It’s that time of year again. Time when the TV networks release a ton of new shows knowing that only a few of them are going to make it out of their first seasons and even fewer are going to have full runs. In a way it’s pretty wasteful, when you consider the money and hours put into it all, but hey, that’s show business!
To commemorate the new gladiatorial season, some of the Pop-Break staff came together to predict which new series won’t survive. This isn’t a list of what will necessarily be good or bad, though hopefully the good shows will last and the bad ones won’t.
With that in mind, here is Pop-Break’s 2016-17 New Show Cancellation Predictions.
Aaron Sarnecky – Time After Time (ABC)
Show Summary: After Jack the Ripper escapes the police using Wells’ time machine, author H.G. Wells journeys to 21st century Manhattan to track the serial killer down before he strikes again.
Why It Will Get Cancelled: Another network, another time travel show. Time After Time is the second time travel show that will hit the small screen this season, along with NBC’s Timeless. In addition, there are other shows dealing with the subject still on the air, such as The CW’s Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and Syfy’s 12 Monkeys. And let’s not forget BBC’s Doctor Who, which a few years ago celebrated its 50th anniversary and is still going strong. Time travel has become such an overused trope at this point that I expect audiences are going to get burnt out on anything new related to it. I know I am.
ABC has steadily dedicated itself to science fiction/fantasy over the years since the enormous success of Lost, but most of its other efforts, such as FlashForward, V, Pushing Daisies, and Forever have failed. Only Once Upon a Time has managed to do indisputably well, though it did have a short-lived spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. One of the things Once Upon a Time has going for it is it can mine centuries of popular fairy tales and legends for material in a more organic way. Time After Time has its premise but how is it going to extend it? It was actually a book and well-received movie and I have to say the movie format makes a lot more sense (too often the case with new shows). Time After Time will no doubt run into the issue of generating content like Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, a show it bears striking resemblance to. That show had a strong first season but has struggled with balancing episodic storylines with its increasingly complex ongoing narrative ever since.
When It Will Get Cancelled: Based on my best guess, I would say that Time After Time will make it to its midseason point before ABC decides to pull the plug. ABC then has the decision on whether or not it might just want to make the rest of the episodes available on its website so it can free up the timeslot for something that will make it more money. It could do that, or it could move the rest of the season to a different night.
Matt Kelly – Son of Zorn (FOX)
Son of Zorn is a play on the very traditional “divorced dad attempts to reconnect with his son but fails miserably” comedy where the dad in question is a parody of He-Man (the ’80s cartoon/action figure/defender of Eternia) living in the normal world. His kid is normal. His wife is normal. He has a normal job. And wouldn’t you know it, he isn’t very good at dealing with everything, what with his whole being a giant cartoon warrior and all. Oh yeah and the titular Zorn is an animated character in the middle of a live action world. Think of it like a reverse Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Zorn will be cancelled for one of two reasons.
- Zorn might not be any good
The trailers have some moments, but a lot of Zorn just doesn’t seem to gel with the very funny and unique premise of a Masters of the Universe hero dealing with everyman problems. For instance, Zorn’s main workplace issue is not that his menial office job is beneath a great and powerful warrior but with the notion that a man can be managed by a woman, in this case played by Artemis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And listen, I get the joke. He isn’t as progressive as a normal dad because Zapheria is behind the times but not only is that not a super funny joke but it also isn’t very He-Man.
Say what you will about Eternia but it wasn’t sexist. She-Ra was He-Man’s twin sister with most of his powers. She was essentially an equal to He-Man introduced as a role model to female viewers of the show. It just doesn’t then make sense that Zorn would be confused in that situation. It feels like less like poking fun at the cartoon’s sexism and more of a jab against He-Man’s sexist fans. And maybe I’m nit picking but it felt less like He-Man and more like Borat, which in this case isn’t a good thing.
- Son of Zorn is too beautiful for you monsters!
Let’s say the pilot is just a pilot. They’re usually not great representations of the actual show because the writers have to cram the pilot episode with simple jokes and a ton of exposition. So let’s say the second episode is an amazing parody of He-Man that uses the character as a device to make interesting points about being a man and raising a son who is nothing like you. If that is the second episode, this show will be amazing for a season and then it will ABSOLUTELY get cancelled.
I usually give network audiences very little credit. They didn’t watch great shows like Arrested Development, Greg the Bunny, The Tick, Drive (look it up), or Firefly and then all of those shows were cancelled. (Arrested Development came back but was axed on more than one occasion). You know what else those shows I just listed have in common? They were all shows created and then quickly destroyed by FOX. FOX is notorious for cancelling shows too quickly and not giving them time to gain the following necessary to turn them into huge hits.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t have a great start critically or ratings-wise but ABC gave it a chance and now it is the genuinely entertaining and heartwarming superhero drama it was always supposed to be. You can bet if S.H.I.E.L.D. was a FOX show, it wouldn’t have made it to the secret Nazi twist that turned the series around. I think that is what’s going to happen to Zorn. Jason Sudekis, Cheryl Heinz, and Tim Meadows will make Zorn funny. Miller and Lord will write a great He-Man parody. Maybe it won’t be great from jump but it will get there. The problem lies in the fact that if Zorn shows even the slightest weakness, FOX will cut off its head like the falcon from the Zorn trailer. Mark my words.
When it will be cancelled is anyone’s guess. I hope it makes it past seven episodes so that we get to see it grow but something in my gut is saying seven will be the end for Zorn. It just won’t “HAVE THE POWERRRRRRR!” You get it? It’s a He-Man joke.
And if I am wrong, please tweet me when the eighth episode airs and make me feel dumb. I’m @nationofnando
Allison Lips – Downward Dog (ABC)
Downward Dog is a sitcom about a millennial told from a philosophical dog’s point of view. One can only imagine the mileage the producers expect to get from this concept. Is this going to be a Hannah Horvath-clone’s life as told by her dog, who suffers from existential angst of his own? Based on the two and a half minute trailer, it seems like it.
There’s no way ABC will air more than two episodes of Downward Dog. We get it. Millennials are struggling to find their place in the world and dogs get jealous of anything else that demands their owners’ attention. The world doesn’t need a sitcom/dramedy focused on tying those subjects together.
Even though the concept is ridiculous, it’s not completely without merit. However, ABC is absolutely the wrong place for the show. Downward Dog could have been a quirky Adult Swim show, making an irreverent commentary on modern society. The writers also could have toned down the show a bit, made the humans younger, and pitched this to Nickelodeon as “kids find out what their dogs are really thinking when they’re at school.”
Sadly, the show is neither one of those things.
Downward Dog shouldn’t make it past the first commercial break, but it will air one full episode.
Josh Sarnecky – Timeless (NBC)
Show Summary: When a criminal travels back in time to dramatically alter American history, an unlikely trio consisting of a scientist, a soldier, and a historian must follow him to the past and save the country.
Why It Will Get Cancelled: When I look at the list of primetime shows that NBC has aired over the last decade, two major observations come to mind: (1) NBC has a strange fixation with the city of Chicago (the network currently has three Chicago shows on the air and is adding a fourth next year), and (2) the channel has a pitiful track record in regards to sci-fi shows. The only real success NBC currently has in the genre is Grimm, and that soon-ending series is more accurately classified as fantasy. NBC tries every year to set up a new sci-fi series, and each one fails to draw in enough viewers to please the execs. The only real exception to the trend has been Heroes, but even that reasonably successful show was nixed after four seasons. Given this recent history, I think everyone involved with Timeless should be nervous.
Fortunately, Timeless has an interesting enough concept to draw in viewers. Time travel can be an incredibly complicated plot device, but the idea still has tremendous appeal to a wide-range of audiences. For this show to be successful, the pilot will have to tap into this interest and capture viewers not typically attracted to sci-fi. If Timeless was premiering on Fox or The CW, I’d say that this task would have a reasonable chance at success; NBC’s previous failures in the genre, however, make me less optimistic. Unless NBC execs temper their expectations for the show’s ratings, Timeless may not be given much time to prove itself.
When It Will Get Cancelled: While I do think that NBC will cancel Timeless before the end of the season, I believe the network will give the series a reasonable chance to build an audience. Expect to see five or six episodes of Timeless before it’s history.
Josh Sarnecky – This Is Us (NBC)
Show Summary: The show follows the lives of several individuals born on the same day, including a pregnant couple expecting twins, an overweight woman who finds a potential suitor at a weight loss program, and a man confronting the father that gave him up as an infant.
Why It Will Get Cancelled: While This Is Us is also a questionable choice for NBC, the drama has the opposite problem of Timeless. No matter what channel picked up the show, This Is Us would be in danger of cancellation. The issue is that the concept behind the series just seems boring; I can’t imagine anyone who has seen a commercial for the show has gone away thinking that the series is must-see TV or even worth watching at all. Advertised as a representation of real life, This Is Us is banking on the belief that viewers want to see a sentimental dramatization of the lives of regular people. Unfortunately, I just don’t believe that enough viewers will find that concept interesting. Not only do the commercials portray the show as overly sappy, they also telegraph how each of the three main storylines will end. Without intrigue or widespread appeal, This Is Us is likely doomed.
When It Will Get Cancelled: I predict that ratings will be so low following the pilot that This Is Us will only manage to air two to three episodes before being cut. No offense to NBC or everyone behind the series, but expect to see reruns of Chicago Retail airing during this time slot in the not-so-distant future.
Bill Bodkin – Lethal Weapon (FOX)
Show Summary: A quasi reboot/remake of the popular action series. Lethal Weapon follows LAPD officer Roger Murtagh (Damon Wayans) who recently suffered a heart attack, and his new partner, the suicidal former Navy SEAL Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) who just lost his wife and unborn child.
Why It Will Get Cancelled: Lethal Weapon has a lot going against it based on recent television history alone. It’s a high gloss action series and every single year we get a number of big budget slick, glossy action series, and the majority of them fail. Remember last year’s Wesley Snipes thriller, The Player? How about NBC’s Bionic Woman reboot? Or James Cameron’s Terra Nova? Or CBS’ star-studded historical crime drama Vegas? None of them saw a second season, or while some never got past the first quarter of their release. It’s also an adaptation of film to television. Let’s look at the laundry list of failures here — Bad Teacher, Rush Hour, The Client, and most recently FOX’s Minority Report.
Outside of the historical comparisons, this series looks like an unmitigated dumpster fire. Riggs’ story looks way too overwrought, and Damon Wayans just doesn’t seem to fit the Murtagh roll at all. Remember, Riggs is supposed to be both the center of the drama, and the comic relief while Murtagh is the straight man, and the exhausted (and ignored) voice of reason. In the trailers they seem to have forgotten to make Riggs funny, and they forgot to really define Murtagh was a character. This just looks like a terrible, awful, no good mess.
When It Will Get Cancelled: I’ll base this on Minority Report‘s run since I think they’ll have a similar fate. This will run about 10 weeks, and will head into the Thanksgiving holiday before getting cancelled. They put some serious coin in this series, so they’re going to get their money’s worth.