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411’s TV Renewal Predictions: Lethal Weapon Benefits From FOX’s Crowded Bubble

April 24, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Lethal Weapon Season Two

Welcome to 411’s official renewal predictions for the 2017 – 2018 television season! I’m Jeremy Thomas and after last season’s late-era run, we’re back to keep predictions going from fall going forward. The fall season is now in full launch this past week and we’re going to take a weekly look at what’s likely to get renewed as well as what you’re not very likely to see come back next year.

This is going to be a pretty short and sweet column each week. I’ll be updating my predictions every Sunday if there’s anything that warrants a move.

How It Works

The categories are pretty self-explanatory: Renewed, Likely Renewal, Bubble (could go either way), Likely Cancellation and Cancelled. It is worth mentioning that some shows will be moved into “Cancelled” status before an official announcement; networks are generally loathe to announce cancellations but there are clear signs when a show has been cancelled. These include a lack of additional episodes ordered for a first season, main cast members joining other shows or pilots and statements made by members of the cast or crew.

A show’s rating in the 18 – 49 demographic generally determines renewal, as that is the demographic that advertisers pay for (and thus determines the show’s profit margin). The 18 – 49 demo rating will be included after the show in the list. However, it’s not as simple as “X show has a higher rating than Y show, so it will be renewed.” There are certain expectations regarding a show’s timeslot; a 10 PM show can easily survive with a lower rating than a 9 PM show. Fridays tend to have lower ratings expectations and a show that is produced by the network’s production company is more likely to be renewed than one that the network has no stake in. International and streaming distributions can influence some shows to survive, but that is by no means a saving grace.

This Week’s Highlights

We’re closing in on the finish line for the 2017 – 2018 season. Three weeks remain until the broadcast networks begin their week of presenting new schedules to advertisers in New York City at the upfronts, and there are still many shows that are waiting on renewal. As we get closer to that time frame, I’m narrowing down my predictions so as to make some final calls on shows. In addition, several renewals have been announced (in part because a hectic schedule cost me a few weeks of posting), resulting in several changes in the overall predictions and statuses. As with my last column, we’re going to break the developments by network and may continue to do so as we get closer to upfronts.

As more midseason shows make their premieres, some seismic changes have been made to the prediction charts this week. We’re getting more and more down to the wire, with just over a month before the network upfront presentations, so expect several announced renewals and unannounced (but reported) cancellations to arrive over the next few weeks. This week, we have a lot to cover so we’re going to break it down by network.

* ABC

ABC has a well-established history of not announcing most of its renewals until the last possible second, so that they can have all the data they need to make the appropriate calls. This year hasn’t changed in that regard for the most part. The renewals of Roseanne and The Good Doctor came as absolutely no surprise, and Modern Family and The Goldbergs were already renewed before the season began. With this past week’s entirely-expected renewal of Grey’s Anatomy, the network still has many shows awaiting an official word of their fate.

ABC’s midseason lineup, sadly, didn’t cleared many situations up at first. With the exception of Roseanne’s success and For the People’s failure, all of the midseason shows have started at just middling rather than disasters or home runs. But subsequent weeks have made a few predictions more secure, if by no means certain. First off is Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19. The generically-named series isn’t exactly riding its predecessor’s wave, but neither was it floundering. The good news for the show is that it has stayed quite stable in the ratings. Right now in ABC’s landscape, it seems like a likely show to return.

On the other hand, Deception is pretty SOL at this point. The show was never in good shape, but it started off tolerably with a 1.2 demo rating. It soon tanked and its most recent episode was a 0.7, meaning the show lost nearly half its audience by its fifth week. There’s no real case that can be made for its renewal at this point. Alex Inc. is still hanging out on the Bubble, but things aren’t good there either. The show has yo-yo’d in the ratings and hit a dire 0.6 last week. There are a couple of weeks left to see if it stabilizes at a higher level, but it needs to do so very soon.

As of now, only Alex Inc. and Agents of SHIELD remain on the Bubble, with the latter show more likely to return thanks to its international sales and strong DVR numbers. Those factors are what have moved Designated Survivor into Likely Renewed territory. The Keifer Sutherland political thriller has performed in a lackluster manner in same-day viewing but as we saw last season, other revenue streams are becoming increasingly important to networks. And to be frank, considering how many shows ABC has cancelled and will still have to cancel, it seems to be fairly likely that Survivor will live to see another year. They don’t have that many pilots in the works.

* CBS

CBS made some big renewal decisions in the last couple of weeks, as it renewed NCIS for a sixteenth season and then gave new seasons to Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, Blue Bloods, Bull, Madam Secretary, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: New Orleans. Almost all of these were expected and predicted, with two exceptions. MacGyver has been on the Bubble, largely because I was cautious about its ratings in the face of two other revival pilots at CBS (Magnum, PI and Cagney & Lacey that could take possibly its place. That said, this isn’t a shocker. Madame Secretary is more surprising, as it marks a full-on miss for me. The show’s ratings have been among CBS’ worst this season and it wasn’t hard to guess that even critical acclaim wouldn’t save it. As it turns out, I was arong.

There aren’t many surprises left for CBS’ potential predictions. Kevin Can Wait and Life in Pieces will almost certainly come back, and Criminal Minds is just waiting on a deal to be worked out (which I expect will happen). Man With a Plan is the least stable of the Likely Renewals but the odds are very good there. Meanwhile, the mass of renewals came with a functional cancellation in Living Biblically. The series has been DOA since it debuted and has been shunted off the schedule. With 9JKL’s cancellation a sure thing, that leaves Instinct as the sole freshman question mark. Much like Alex Inc. on ABC, it has bounced up and down in the ratings. Jumping back to an 0.86 last week was a positive sign, but it’s still on the bottom edge of the Bubble.

That leaves just two shows: Superior Donuts and Scorpion. The former looked bad early in the season but has made a comeback, while the latter has been in jeopardy throughout the year. I’m not quite ready to make a call on either, though right now I think it’s pretty fair to say Donuts has a better shot than Scorpion.

* NBC

NBC is usually the network where we talk about how dire the lineup is, and how some shows many survive only by virtue of being marginally better than the really ugly-rated ones. That’s not really the case this year, to the network’s benefit. That leaves the network in a position to do things that it might not have thought of doing last year, such as cancelling a relative hit in Shades of Blue. The Jennifer Lawrence-led cop drama appears to be going away as a joint agreement between the network and the show’s production company, to be fair. But if NBC was in a tougher place, they’d be moving heaven and earth to keep the show on the air. The network also officially cancelled Taken by pulling it from the air, with remaining episodes burning off after the upfronts. That’s not a surprise.

With the various Chicago series providing a solid anchor for the lineup, things are legitimately looking good. Good Girls is well-liked and NBC has a good deal with Netflix for international distribution, which is enough to likely renew it with its not-spectacular ratings. Blindspot is actually the least certain among Likely Renewals despite it earning big syndication money with another season. Cancelling it would be a surprise, but not a heart-stopper. Meanwhile, Timeless and Champions are as good as done, with abysmal 0.5 and 0.4 ratings in recent weeks that would be a danger zone on Fridays, much less the higher-profile days of Sunday and Thursday.

Right now, NBC’s only real question marks are Rise and AP Bio. I’m on the verge of putting the latter on the Likely Cancelled list, but there’s still some question about that due to the network’s relative dearth of sitcoms. Meanwhile, Rise is well-liked but middling in the ratings, though it has been stable the last four weeks. These ones will likely go right down to the wire.

* FOX

Note: This article was written before a report was published Monday of Clayne Crawford’s on-set behavior threatening Lethal Weapon’s renewal chances. I still think the show is likely renewed, possibly with Crawford somehow replaced. However, I am less confident than I was twenty-four hours ago for obvious reasons.

There isn’t much new to report at FOX, who have the most shows on the Bubble at six. Ghosted, The Resident, The Last Man on Earth, L.A. to Vegas, The Mick, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine are all hard to predict right now for various reasons. Ghosted, for example, has been off the air since January while Brooklyn Nine-Nine took its spot. At the time of its pulling, the supernatural comedy had decent numbers. But will audiences remember anything about it when it comes back? Hard to say.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, meanwhile, is perhaps the most likely show among these to return as it has shown quite the rebound it came back in March. It has been trending down though, so the jury is still out. The Mick’s chances hang in at around Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s; it has stayed largely stable throughout the season, even if that stability is at a mediocre level. Last Man on Earth has survived near-cancellations before and its numbers in recent weeks suggest it may not do so again, but we’ll see. LA to Vegas’ chances depend on whether FOX will give a renewal to sister company 20th Century Fox TV’s show over a series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Universal) or not.

The uncertain status of all of those shows is a benefit to Lethal Weapon, which moves to Likely Renewed this week. Weapon lost some of its shine this season, but has the very definition of solid. As things get closer to decision time, it seems clear that the show will stay. That may come at The Resident’s cost. The medical drama hasn’t been terrible, but hasn’t been great either particularly for a first-season series. With as many shows as FOX seems likely to give new seasons to, The Resident’s prospects are unclear.

* The CW

The CW’s situation this week has little to do with prediction changes, and more to do what it did announce. By that, I mean that the network announced a couple weeks back that Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, Dynasty, Supernatural, and Riverdale had all been renewed for a new season.

The only remote surprise in that group is Dynasty, which I had on the Bubble. The show’s ratings are atrocious — it may just be the first network show in history to be renewed after consistently going below a 0.2 in the demo rating. But with The CW expanding to Sundays next season and Netflix providing an international revenue stream, The CW decided it was worth bringing back. Even those won’t save Life Sentence though, which is actually at an average below a 0.2. It doesn’t have the brand recognition that Dynasty does and is a certain one-and-done.

That leaves iZombie for the network, and we may not even get the answer for this until after the upfronts. As it stands I have it on the Bubble, but it’s important to note that this may be an example of a network really meaning it when it says they’re waiting until later before making a decision. (That is, for the record, the generic PR line for “it’s cancelled but we don’t want to say it.”) iZombie hasn’t been in good shape, but it is outperforming Dynasty and Jane the Virgin, albeit on a higher-profile night in Mondays. I feel like it will probably come back, though I want to see another week or two of data before making a call.

ABC

Renewed:
* Roseanne (4.23)
* Grey’s Anatomy (1.97)
* The Good Doctor (1.79)
* Modern Family (1.64)
* The Goldbergs (1.49)

Likely Renewal:
* Splitting Up Together (1.44)
* American Housewife (1.24)
* Black-ish (1.19)
* Speechless (1.13)
* Station 19 (1.11)
* Fresh Off the Boat (1.02)
* How to Get Away with Murder (0.94)

Bubble:
* Alex, Inc. (0.97)
* Designated Survivor (0.74)
* Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (0.50)

Likely Cancellation:
* Deception (0.85)
* The Crossing (0.81)
* For the People (0.71)
* Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (0.67)
* Marvel’s Inhumans (0.61)

Cancelled:
* The Middle (1.41) – Final season previously announced
* Scandal (1.14) – Final season previously announced
* The Mayor (0.82)
* Once Upon a Time (0.50)
* Ten Days in the Valley (0.35)

Too Early to Call:
* Quantico (Premieres April 26th)

CBS

Renewed:
* Big Bang Theory (2.79)
* Young Sheldon (2.25)
* Mom (1.48)
* NCIS (1.42)
* Bull (1.19)
* Seal Team (1.04)
* Hawaii Five-0 (0.99)
* SWAT (0.97)
* NCIS: New Orleans (0.97)
* NCIS: Los Angeles (0.95)
* Blue Bloods (0.92)
* MacGyver (0.85)
* Madam Secretary (0.65)

Likely Renewal:
* Kevin Can Wait (1.21)
* Life in Pieces (1.14)
* Man With a Plan (1.01)
* Criminal Minds (0.99)
* Code Black (Premieres April 25th)

Bubble:
* Instinct (0.95)
* Superior Donuts (0.91)
* Scorpion (0.81)

Likely Cancellation:
* 9JKL (0.96)

Cancelled:
* Me, Myself & I (0.99)
* Wisdom of the Crowd (0.91)
* Living Biblically (0.70)

Too Early to Call:
* Elementary (Premieres April 23rd)

NBC

Renewed:
* This Is Us (3.07)
* Will & Grace (1.48)
* The Good Place (1.14)
* Superstore (1.05)

Likely Renewal:
* Law & Order: SVU (1.28)
* Chicago Med (1.27)
* Chicago PD (1.20)
* Chicago Fire (1.10)
* Good Girls (1.06)
* The Blacklist (0.96)
* Blindspot (0.64)

Bubble:
* Rise (0.92)
* AP Bio (0.76)

Likely Cancellation:
* Law & Order True Crime (1.05)
* The Brave (0.92)
* Great News (0.73)
* Timeless (0.65)
* Champions (0.53)

Cancelled:
* Taken (0.44)
* Shades of Blue (Premieres Midseason)

Too Early to Call:

FOX

Renewed:
* The Simpsons (1.65)
* 9-1-1 (1.59)
* The Orville (1.25)
* The Gifted (1.01)

Likely Renewal:
* Empire (1.91)
* Star (1.35)
* Bob’s Burgers (1.19)
* Family Guy (1.14)
* Lethal Weapon (1.03)
* Lucifer (0.85)
* Gotham (0.80)

Bubble:
* Ghosted (1.17)
* The Resident (1.09)
* The Last Man on Earth (0.81)
* L.A. to Vegas (0.76)
* The Mick (0.73)
* Brooklyn Nine-Nine (0.72)

Likely Cancellation:
* The X-Files (0.96)
* The Exorcist (0.42)

Cancelled:
* New Girl (0.70)

Too Early to Call:

The CW

Renewed:
* The Flash (0.83)
* Supernatural (0.58)
* Black Lightning (0.57)
* Supergirl (0.55)
* Riverdale (0.51)
* Legends of Tomorrow (0.48)
* Arrow (0.46)
* Jane the Virgin (0.24)
* Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (0.22)
* Dynasty (0.20)

Likely Renewal:

Bubble:
* iZombie (0.25)

Likely Cancellation:
* Life Sentence (0.17)

Cancelled:
* Valor (0.21)
* The Originals (0.4) – Final season previously announced

Too Early to Call:
* The 100 (Premieres April 24th)