Continuing our love of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption (PTI), here's a quick PTI-style "Toss Up". This is normally the spot where I'd get to crush Bill like a bug, abuse him for early favoritism of Eleventh Hour, and early disdain for The New Adventures of Old Christine. But here, we agree on just about everything. BORING!
Toss Up: Biggest Surprise Renewal: Dollhouse or Scrubs?
Gorman: No question, Dollhouse.
In hindsight it looks to me like it was a combination of magically cheap future budgets for the show and Fox being a bit Whedon fan gun shy, still, over the Firefly cancellation.
My second biggest surprise would have been Better Off Ted. It did even worse than Scrubs, and had no syndication economics behind it to give it added economic reason for continuing.
Seidman: Definitely Dollhouse.
Dollhouse had a trend of progressively lower ratings to the point where they were very low. Not only was I surprised, I was shocked.
For a show that started out with decent ratings for a Friday, but then just kept going down...even factoring in that they were airing it in what is typically, other than for CBS, the "Friday Night Graveyard", and even factoring in the relatively good DVR viewing numbers, I was still very surprised. For me, its renewal was a "miracles can happen" moment!
While the Scrubs renewal was surprising given it seemed common knowledge that it was in its last season, and even the show's creator said it was in its last season, the world of renewals for 30 minute sitcoms works a bit differently than it does with hour-long scripted dramas. To the point where even another season of According to Jim would've surprised me less than Dollhouse.
Biggest Surprise Cancellation: Eleventh Hour, Reaper, My Name is Earl or Samantha Who?
Seidman: Who comes up with these ridiculous questions!? None of the cancellations were surprising to me, and nothing that comes even close to evoking the kind of surprise the Dollhouse renewal did. I'll go with My Name is Earl, and not so much because it was canceled by NBC, but rather that it hasn't yet been picked up by FOX (who produces it). FOX is apparently shrewder with its own funds, and apparently the studio won't give it to the network for as little as Sony must be charging FOX for 'Til Death. It's being widely reported that TBS is interested in picking up Earl though.
Reaper didn't fit the target audience of the CW (women 18-34), and though Eleventh Hour had decent ratings overall, in its timeslot with the good lead-in it had, we'd heard CBS wasn't thrilled with it. Despite critical acclaim, Samantha Who? didn't get good numbers when it didn't have Dancing With the Stars in front of it, and apparently it was relatively expensive to produce for the ratings it was generating on its own.
Gorman: Why isn't Privileged on this list? I kid...
No individual show cancellation shocked me. I expected at least one of My Name is Earl, Medium, and Chuck to get the boot, but not all three and that's exactly what happened. For me the biggest surprise would have to be a toss up between Eleventh Hour and Without A Trace. It did surprise me that both were canceled.
More likely to be canceled before it finishes the season, Dollhouse or Accidentally on Purpose?:
Gorman: I believe it was you who comes up with these ridiculous questions! If the question is which show will get yanked before the ordered episodes all air I wouldn't say either Dollhouse or AoP. AoP has to do *really* badly to get yanked early (ala Ex-List) and I just can't see that happening in its plumb time slot. CBS stuck with Worst Week through nearly its entire run in a similar spot.
And an early yank to me has to be caused by a big down surprise. How could there be a big down surprise for Dollhouse? It's numbers were already terrible!
If I look at where the big downside surprises which might cause an early yank could come, they're heavy on ABC. Either Shark Tank, which I can see not even making it to the fall after cratering in the summer, or take your pick among the Wednesday shows. On NBC, I like Parenthood for the early crater and yank.
Seidman: If Dollhouse doesn't air at least all of the 13 episodes that have been ordered so far, I will be as surprised as I will be when it gets a third season. Since I hear there are extra points for answering the actual question though, no matter how ridiculous it is, I'm going with Accidentally on Purpose. It is airing on CBS which generally has a higher ratings bar and has good results with their Monday comedy block built around Two and a Half Men. Any show that doesn't perform well there will have a short leash, but the odds are it will perform OK.
I agree with Bill about searching for the first victim among ABC's planned Wednesday comedy block. Hank, The Middle, Cougar Town and Modern Family. So many choices! I'm going with one of them, but I'd like to see at least one week of data like I did with The Unusuals before making a call.