Bubble Watch: Too Soon to Downgrade 'Hannibal?'; ABC Needs Procedural Schedule Spackle Like 'Body of Proof'?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

April 28th, 2013

body of proof april 22

When it comes to bubble status, like the Renew/Cancel Index we're focusing on the likelihood that a show will be renewed **for next season** (2013-14).  Certain shows are toss-ups where based on the ratings, the renewal decisions could go either way and not be surprising.

Here, “canceled” is used interchangeably with “won’t be renewed for next season” and is not meant to imply a show will be yanked off the schedule in the current season though obviously the two outcomes are not mutually exclusive. The semantics police and lawyers should feel free to break out the handcuffs and plead their cases in the comments. 

This Isn't The Renew/Cancel Index

Though the basic methodology is the same (intra-network relative ranking of shows by adults 18-49 ),unlike the Renew/Cancel Index which predicts what would happen if the season ended now, Bubble Watch prognosticates about what will happen by May. The two are still usually closely aligned, and almost certainly very closely aligned towards the end of the season.

Lots of drama renewals from NBC and a couple from CW on Friday.  A few quick items and then a piece on the merits of schedule spackle from long-time reader and smart guy Tom Shaw who might be taking over Bubble Watch next season.

Beauty and the Beast renewed!

Though I put Beauty and the Beast back on the bubble last week, and might have upgraded it again this week had it not already been renewed, I did have it as a likely cancellation for a month. For the week or two of that period where The Carrie Diaries hadn’t been moved to predicted cancellation I’m fine with that choice. The other few weeks though, the many of you who were in the “they’ll cancel one of those shows, but not both!” camp had it right!


What's ailing Hannibal goes beyond the NFL Draft.  I was going to wait until next Sunday, May 5 which will be the last Bubble Watch of the season (because before Sunday, May 12 rolls around we should know all the renewals and cancellations) to downgrade Hannibal, but why wait? If it jumps 30% to a 1.3 next week, I'll move it back to the bubble.


Some are making something out of CW announcing the renewals of Beauty and the Beast and Hart of Dixie but not Nikita. At least for now, I’m making nothing of it. Abysmal ratings are nothing new for Nikita, and if the CW has ridden out its lousy ratings this long to drag it along to the necessary episodes for stripped syndication I'll be very surprised if it's not given at least a partial order.  A Nikita cancellation after three seasons would definitely be the biggest surprise of the season for me.

The Neighbors & How To Live with Your Parents

I’ve put How to Live with Your Parents back on the bubble and still like The Neighbors chances better. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll be surprised, but still not nearly as surprised as if the CW doesn’t renew Nikita!

The text below comes from long-time reader Tom Shaw who has thought a lot about renewals, cancellations and scheduling needs. Tom was the person who coined the phrase "schedule spackle" in the comments way back when, so it's appropriate to introduce Tom with a piece on schedule spackle.  Tom thinks about things much more from a scheduling perspective than I do. I haven't spent any time thinking about what Fox will stick on Fridays next season. Tom has!

Spackle Detail: The Silver Lining for Body of Proof?

By Tom Shaw

As we head into the renewal announcements, the one category the internet as a whole tends to whiff on are the "spackle" candidates. A quick refresher:

Every Fall, networks try new shows. Some of those new shows will fail so badly they need to be yanked off the air.

Something needs to air in their place. Networks have learned the hard way that trying to promote and launch a new show over one to two weeks in that same slot rarely works.
The best option networks have is to fill in those holes with "spackle" - pre-existing shows with established audiences (even if those audiences are smaller than average) that networks can drop into those slots with little promotion. Procedurals and broader comedies work best.

Over the last few years, most networks have learned to have their cake and eat it too by scheduling their spackle options on Friday. Those premieres are usually delayed 2-4 weeks to give the networks time to evaluate the new shows. This allows the networks to have a replacement show ready if a new show fails, while also avoiding eating $20+ Million on a spackle order that sits on the shelf until Summer if the new shows succeed.

So what sort of spackle options does each network have?


Drama: Only Castle and... Body of Proof really fit the mold. While Castle has sunk this year, there's been no indication ABC will pull it off the Fall schedule, leaving Body Of Proof as ABC's only option. I now expect a renewal for Body Of Proof.

Comedy: Suburgatory, The Neighbors, and How to Live... could all be fighting for spackle spots on Friday. Unless ABC hates their comedy pilots and expands to two hours on Friday, I think Malibu Country is dead and Last Man Standing depends on pilots.

CBS: Renewals all but finished.

Drama: The Mentalist and probably The Good Wife are Friday bound, as already syndicated shows nearing the end of their runs. The Mentalist in particular is prime procedural spackle, and I am waiting to see Friday numbers before declaring next season its last.

Comedy: CBS has quite a few comedy pilots with prestige names to fill only one slot. A sign of CBS expanding comedy to two hours on Thursday, or will CBS hold Mike & Molly (hitting 88 episodes this year, owned by WB) for spackle in case new shows tank (or both)?

CW: Renewals are all but finished.

Drama: CW has now picked up their spackle options in Heart Of Dixie & Beauty And The Beast. I expect one to be initially scheduled on Friday in Spring.

FOX: Renewals are finished.

Comedy: I expect Raising Hope and probably Mindy Project to start the season out on Fridays @ 8, to cover any failed comedies on Tuesday.

Drama: Unless Fox somehow can move Glee or Bones to Friday -- itself all but requiring Fox to stick with the semi-disastrous Four Comedy Tuesdays)-- the only real options they have are to a) Schedule a new show for Friday and hope it both succeeds there and transfers, and/or b) Move the likely Friday comedy spackle block to cover a failed drama. Neither sounds wise in the short run, so I expect Fox to sit on any failed drama (a la Mob Doctor this season) until The Following and whichever drama gets the Super Bowl premiere can start.


Drama: Unless Law & Order: SVU starts on Friday (itself unlikely because of comedy spackle), the only spackle option is Grimm, which NBC has only used in emergencies. That said, I expect The Voice's halo to prop up any struggling new dramas until NBC can launch replacements after the Olympics.

Comedy: The biggest mystery left this Spring. NBC has one comedy with ratings arguably worthy of continuing (Parks & Rec) and too much time to fill. I expect NBC to go with two hours on Thursday and one hour of Friday comedy spackle - and NBC gives Go On, New Normal, Whitney, and Community spackle orders with so many unproven Thursday shows.

Tom Shaw is a computer programmer from Milwaukee, WI. Bereft of Lost theories to argue about, he's spent too much time attempting to figure out the TV industry.

Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.

Show Network Status
666 Park Avenue ABC Canceled
Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 ABC Canceled
Last Resort ABC Canceled
Private Practice ABC Final Season Finished
Zero Hour ABC Canceled
Made in Jersey CBS Canceled
Partners CBS Canceled
90210 CW Canceled/Final Season
Cult CW Canceled
Emily Owens, M.D. CW Canceled
Gossip Girl CW Final Season Finished
Ben and Kate Fox Canceled
Fringe Fox Final Season Finished
The Mob Doctor Fox Canceled
30 Rock NBC Final Season Finished
Animal Practice NBC Canceled
Do No Harm NBC Canceled
Office, The NBC Final Season
Smash NBC Canceled
Red Widow ABC Cancellation Predicted
Happy Endings ABC Cancellation Predicted
CSI: NY CBS Cancellation Predicted
Golden Boy CBS Cancellation Predicted
Vegas CBS Cancellation Predicted
Carrie Diaries, The CW Cancellation Predicted
Cleveland Show, The Fox Cancellation Predicted
Touch Fox Cancellation Predicted
1600 Penn NBC Cancellation Predicted
Deception NBC Cancellation Predicted
Guys with Kids NBC Cancellation Predicted
Hannibal NBC Cancellation Predicted
Up All Night NBC Cancellation Predicted
The New Normal NBC Cancellation Predicted
Body of Proof ABC On The Bubble
How to Live with Your Parents... ABC On The Bubble
Malibu Country ABC On The Bubble
Rules of Engagement CBS On The Bubble
Community NBC On The Bubble
Go On NBC On The Bubble
Whitney NBC On The Bubble
Castle ABC Renewal Predicted
Revenge ABC Renewal Predicted
Suburgatory ABC Renewal Predicted
Grey's Anatomy ABC Renewal Predicted
Last Man Standing ABC Renewal Predicted
Middle, The ABC Renewal Predicted
Modern Family ABC Renewal Predicted
Nashville ABC Renewal Predicted
Neighbors, The ABC Renewal Predicted
Once Upon a Time ABC Renewal Predicted
Scandal ABC Renewal Predicted
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
Nikita CW Renewal Predicted
Parks & Recreation NBC Renewal Predicted
2 Broke Girls CBS Renewed
Big Bang Theory, The CBS Renewed
Blue Bloods CBS Renewed
CSI CBS Renewed
Elementary CBS Renewed
Good Wife, The CBS Renewed
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewed
How I Met Your Mother CBS Renewed
Mentalist, The CBS Renewed
Mike & Molly CBS Renewed
NCIS CBS Renewed
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS Renewed
Person of Interest CBS Renewed
Two and a Half Men CBS Renewed
Arrow CW Renewed
Beauty and the Beast CW Renewed
Hart of Dixie CW Renewed
Supernatural CW Renewed
Vampire Diaries, The CW Renewed
American Dad Fox Renewed
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Bones Fox Renewed
Family Guy Fox Renewed
Following, The Fox Renewed
Glee Fox Renewed
Mindy Project, The Fox Renewed
New Girl Fox Renewed
Raising Hope Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Chicago Fire NBC Renewed
Grimm NBC Renewed
Law & Order: SVU NBC Renewed
Parenthood NBC Renewed
Revolution NBC Renewed


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  • s0303

    just realized i don’t watch any shows on abc anymore…they got rid of cougar town and i gave up on ouat…no wonder i just noticed they haven’t renewed anything yet :)

  • S G Sims

    If Malibu Country is dead, who are you going to pick at? That show has been your kicking rock from the beginning. I love the show and hope you are dead wrong!

  • Tim

    Could there be a reason that ABC has not announced the obvious renewals of Modern Family, Grey’s, and Scandal besides contract issues?

  • Carmen

    “. We will put the imaginary guns to our head on May 7, if prior years are any guide waiting until then won’t take us completely off the hook with the NBC predictions, but if it does it won’t bother me!”

    Fair enough!

  • Jared

    I LOVE seeing Beauty & the Beast in the renewed column!

  • J Edward Sharp

    @ SG SIMS/agree 100% with you. Hope the show makes it for another season.

  • outlawz

    C.Beast.S should give golden boy n vegas another season great shows put them on saturday

    08; 2 1/2 man
    30; new comedy super cycle
    09; vegas/golden boy 15 ep. each
    10; tgw or h50 or tm or one of them reality show

  • Fred

    Low expectation Friday is a valid reason Malibu Country might be renewed .
    ABC has been winning on Fridays this season . Considering how terrible HE has been performing , MC’a chances are increased.

  • Potato

    Hannibal and Community will be spackle. And possibly Go On. Any more Whitney will be entering it in the race for syndication and I think they’ll cut their losses. And I don’t care how politically correct the new normal is, it hit a 0.7, so it’s not coming back. (and, for the record, can we stop referring to a show where a ten year old orders breast milk from Ebay and fights with her mother about wanting to drink it as “politically correct”?)

    This week will either seal HTLWYP’s fate or keep it a big question mark, depending on if the ratings drop again or stabilize/go up.

    Yeah, fox is pretty much stuck with whatever they put out in the fall for the second year in a row, unless they move a midseason replacement in early. Man, that is an empty network!

  • mulscu

    about HANNIBAL i dont know but i really wonder how GILLIAN ANDERSON being in the last few eps that i guess air in june will effect the ratings.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “I can’t speak for Bill, but when there is no gun pointed at my head and I don’t really have an inkling one way or the other, with rare exception I’m not into picking simply for the sake of picking. We will put the imaginary guns to our head on May 7. if prior years are any guide waiting until then won’t take us completely off the hook with the NBC predictions, but if it does it won’t bother me!”

    We are of similar minds.

    As anyone who reads the site knows, I will make predictions based on one episode’s ratings, but in the case of three NBC sitcoms, and a few ABC shows, the situation is muddy enough to keep me on the fence until May 7.

    And my guess is that we won’t have heard about the NBC shows before then.

  • Bizarro

    I have a feeling Nikita will not be renewed until May, right before the upfronts when they announce the other 4 or 5 scripted dramas (including midseason) they pick up. I think the CW is trying to figure out how many episodes they should give the show’s final season between 13 to 22. Since its passing by because of syndication, the CW is not going to announce its renewal early because its not doing that great to begin with.

  • r0ckmypants

    @outlawz – You win for worst scheduling suggestion of the day… maybe of the year.

  • David


    He also wins for most spelling mistakes and incomplete sentences.

  • Brian

    This was a very good and interesting article..and i just hope ABC will renew Body Of Proof for another season, it has an established following and can bring in up to 8 million viewers a week , and has been doing so..it deserves to be saved!…as well as the many other shows you mentioned!

  • omabin

    While interesting to read, I disagree with a lot of what been written by Tom:

    Main points:
    – In general, I vastly disagree with your generalization that networks will schedule shows to fridays just with the possibility of plugging them elsewhere in a matter of three weeks. While I do agree that is the modus operandi of both FOX and NBC, I have seen no indication to suggest that is the way CBS, ABC or CW operate. According to your theory, why wouldn’t ABC have premiered the highly risk block HE/AP23 in early fall and then replace it with LMS/MC? Also, when was the last time any of these three networks have sheduled filler shows to fridays, only to move them to weekdays later? I think your theory of Spackle definitely has a lot of merit but I think you use the friday thing too much – most of the times, they renew the shows and hold them until needed (see rules of engagement, body of proof, touch, Whitney, community). CBS, particularly, loves its stability way too much to hold a drama as spackle like that IMO, especially since they already have undercover boss to do that exact same job.

    In particular:
    – Caste is down 12% so far (2.0 vs. 2.3), while the average scripted show decline this year is actually 14% – this cannot be classified as sinking (this is a minor point, but still)
    – I agree with the Body of Proof prediction, even though I think there is a chance that ABC puts it on its fall schedule to reach syndication faster. Probably not though, it is more likely that it is hold as spackle, but I wouldn’t expect a friday placement at all.
    – Again, you speak as if ABC only regards Friday as spackle which I don’t think is the case. I doubt they will move Shark Tank from Fridays unless they are serious about a 2 hour TGIF, in which case they won’t take the sitcoms away from there just like that again. My guess? The Neighbors is canceled, Suburgatory is renewed (maybe held until midseason, yes, but not for sure), and Parents is renewed (contingent on having decent ratings the next 2 weeks)
    – CBS Sundays = CBS Fridays at this point as far as its dramas are concerned. Not exactly, but almost. I doubt they will care enough to move Sunday dramas to Fridays nor I would see the point of doing so. As I’ve said, Undercover Boss is the ultimate spackle for CBS.
    – I agree with the Mike and Molly as spackle prediction if the move to 2 hours doesn’t happen.
    – I think Beauty and the Beast will be scheduled to Fridays yes, but again not as spackle. The CW had multiple problems in weekdays last year and they didn’t move nikita, at that point still in its second season. Why would next year be any different with Beauty and the beast?
    – Fox is hard, but I agree that Raising Hope and the mindy project should be shipped off to fridays, but not to come back later but to stay there. As for dramas, I kind of agree with your prediction, even though I would do something very different. I also dislike the idea of a 2hour comedy block. I think they are better of with a new drama + new girl + new comedy
    – I think NBC will stick to Thursday comedies next season. Whether it is Parks and three new comedies, or Parks+Community and 2 new comedies remain to be seen. I expect more new comedies after the olpympics. I wouldn’t be shocked with a spackle order for Go On but I wouldn’t see the point with only 2 new comedies being launched and with the olympics right in february. Unless they retool it and basically launch it again after the olympis, which is very unlikely IMO. The New Normal would shock me. Whitney although not shocking is, IMO, unlikely.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Also, when was the last time any of these three networks have sheduled filler shows to fridays, only to move them to weekdays later?

    there may be other instances, but CBS announced Rules of Engagement as *Saturday* spackle last season even though it never wound up airing there. As originally written Tom had implied that as a possibility for CBS with Mike & Molly.

  • Jamey

    @brad Suburgatory is also not owned by abc :)

  • Cyrax86

    Interestingly the first season of Body of Proof was scheduled to air on Fridays in the Fall of 2010 but all of their dramas flopped so the premiere of BoP was pushed to March 2011 for Tuesdays.

  • omabin

    @Robert Seidman,

    Yes, I actually thought of the Rules example. But with CBS I was thinking more in terms of dramas. I actually think they are likely (or at least that they should) hold Mike and Molly to midseason to premiere 2 new comedies if they refuse the comedy hour expansion, but as far as dramas are concerned, I doubt they would hold a returning drama to midseason in addition to undercover boss, it doesn’t seem a CBS-y thing to do and I don’t remember (of course I can be wrong) them ever doing so.

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