Disclaimer: the following is not intended to provoke fans, and is not a commentary about FlashFoward’s quality. It is about what I think ABC will do (and should do) based on FlashForward’s ratings performance.
Lots of chatter about the possibility of a FlashForward renewal in light of Kristin Dos Santos stirring fan hope that the show could be saved by international licensing. My bet is that all of that chatter is coming from show producers, or from actors who perhaps aren’t aware that the huge international ratings successes, as with the success in the US, all came pretty much with the show’s first few episodes.
For me, the answer to the question in the headline is: yes. Unquestionably yes. Sure, I was surprised by the Dollhouse renewal, but I see one huge difference between the two shows.
When FOX renewed Dollhouse it was really merely an issue of cost. There was no issue of opportunity cost. The only thing giving Dollhouse another shot really cost FOX was whatever the show cost (which we hear wasn’t all that much.) There wasn’t a big opportunity cost though. If they didn’t air Dollhouse on Friday night they’d air repeats of House or unscripted content.
It’s different with FlashForward. ABC is very unlikely to announce a fall schedule with any scripted content on Friday, as is pretty much any network not named CBS. The opportunity cost to keep FlashForward around Sunday-Thursday is high. Why keep around a show that you promoted heavily, whose ratings have shriveled up both stateside and abroad when you can devote the hour to a new show that at best will be a breakout hit and at worst be not all that much worse than FlashForward?
You have a show that was promoted very heavily, that is now a ratings dog in the USA and doesn’t have fantastic ratings abroad, that didn’t sell a ton of DVDs with the “half season” DVD and that has had a lot of producer turmoil. The odds of the show ever seeing much ratings improvement from where it is now are bad.
That adds up to…
Renewal Prospects: Bad. Very, Very Bad
Despite reports from the likes of Kristin, FlashForward’s chances for renewal seem pretty dire. Is it possible that ABC will keep one new scripted show around just so it can say it didn’t cancel all its new dramas that debuted in the 2009-10 TV season? Sure, that’s possible.
Is it possible that even though V‘s ratings are still (albeit now somewhat modestly) better ABC would keep the show it produces from its own studios (FlashForward) rather than the one it doesn’t (V)? Yep, that’s possible, too.
But even with all that, I wouldn’t give FlashForward better than a 5% chance of renewal. Not 0%, but much, much closer to zero than to fifty-fifty.