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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  • K

    Criminal minds is a lock to be renewed, especially since CBS renewed both TAR and Survivor (whose ratings are similar to CM)

  • David


    Why post such an obvious point then? There’s no doubt Criminal Minds is going to be renewed, the only reason it’s not yet is due to cast negotiations. And do not compare scripted and unscripted ratings – they are not the same.

  • jj

    Castle has sunk this year? Are we watching the same show and seeing the same numbers?

    BoP definitely deserves a renewal.

  • Jonay

    @David it’s hypothetical relax! (-_-)

  • CBSviewer

    @ K

    Production costs are not.

  • Colin

    Why is Cult say canceled/final season? How is it a final season

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Why is Cult say canceled/final season? How is it a final season

    copy/paste accident or subconscious desire to attract nitpickers. Maybe both.

  • omabin


    Bravo, I agree with everything you’ve written and you’ve explained it way better than I would be able to. It was the essential message of my post but I was unable to make it come across. Thank you! I agree with everything 100%.

  • BenA


    The fact that Hannibal dropped 18% in week 3 and dropped an even further 28% in week 4 is not a very good sign. As much as I’ve heard good things about the show, NBC will probably cancel it and a very slim chance (at best) of it getting a second season on another network (aka when NBC cancelled Southland, TNT picked it up for the rest of its run).

  • Anthony Parello (AP076)

    @ David
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 3:59 PM
    “Please tell me in what instance would the President of the United States ask ABC to renew Body of Proof?”

    If there was an episode where Dr. Megan Hunt Medical Examiner (Dana Delany) had Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on her autopsy slabs, perhaps ;-)

  • CancelationBeaver

    What will happen if CBS moves Criminal Minds to Friday ? I know it’s very unlikely but think about it. If CBS moves Hawaii Five-0 to Friday it will get, at most, a 1.5 (which is now good for CBS on Friday) but Criminal Minds could get a 1.8-2.0. Look at my schedule and tell me what you think of it.

    8:00 – How I Met Your Mother (Final Season, 24 episodes)
    8:30 – Mom (13 episodes) / Crazy Ones (13 episodes)
    9:00 – 2 Broke Girls (24 episodes)
    9:30 – Mike & Molly (22 episodes)
    10:00 – Beverly Hills Cop (13-24 episodes)

    8:00 – NCIS (24 episodes)
    9:00 – NCIS: Red (13-24 episodes)
    10:00 – Intelligence (13-22 episodes)

    8:00 – Survivor
    9:00 – NCIS: Los Angeles (25 episodes)
    10:00 – CSI (23 episodes)

    8:00 – The Big Bang Theory (25 episodes)
    8:30 – Two and a Half Men (23 episodes)
    9:00 – Person of Interest (22 episodes)
    10:00 – Elementary (24 episodes)

    8:00 – The Good Wife (18 episodes) / Undercover Boss
    9:00 – Criminal Minds (22 episodes)
    10:00 – Blue Bloods (22 episodes)

    7:00 – 60 Minutes
    8:00 – The Amazing Race
    9:00 – Hawaii Five-0 (22 episodes)
    10:00 – The Mentalist (18 episodes) / Hostages (13 episodes)

    I know it’s not realistic but i really want to know what you think of it.

  • Anthony Parello (AP076)

    @Ben A

    “NBC will probably cancel it and a very slim chance (at best) of it getting a second season on another network (aka when NBC cancelled Southland, TNT picked it up for the rest of its run).”

    More like impossible. The Southland pick-up was because NBC had a second season filmed that they decided they would not want to air. In effect they cancelled it before it aired its first season two episode.

    The assumption is TNT then swooped in and bough episodes that were not going to see the light of day on the cheap. They subsequently made major budget cuts, especially around casting (and improved the show in my opinion) so that the show could continue on TNT.

    BTW, has anyone heard about renewal. I am assuming no news is bad news as I believe they had announced renewal by this point last year and it never helps when 3 of the principals are in pilots this season :-(

  • Tom Shaw

    @David: “Do you think CBS is likely to go ahead with a 2hr Thursday comedy block?”

    I have no idea. On one hand, CBS needs some of their new comedies to succeed soon, as HIMYM is ending, Mike & Molly is only a minor success (by CBS standards) and doesn’t warrant the lead-in, and Two and a Half Men will end one of these years. CBS can’t possibly incubate that many new shows this season with only one slot to work with. NBC’s block is effectively dead as far as 9pm competition goes. In addition, CBS’ comedy development has a lot of big names involved for just two shows to be picked up.

    The flip side is, many of those shows above are ending soon. So CBS wouldn’t just have to have multiple successes this year, they would need multiple successes in the next few years as well as the above shows get phased out. (Keep in mind, CBS’ comedy successes in the last half decade only consist of 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly, although A) CBS only tries a few new shows a year, and B) Ratings standards are extremely high on CBS.)

    (CBS’ now annual 4 repeat comedy Thursday performed as well as usual a couple weeks back.)

    With CBS’ level of need, I strongly suspect they try more than one new show in Fall. Whether they do that by expanding to two hours on Thursday, or by holding Mike & Molly in some way, probably depends on how the comedy pilots turn out.

  • Bigbrotherfan

    Hanniflop= canceled
    Deception= canceled

    Happy Endings= Canceled
    Red Widow= Canceled
    Malibu Country= renewed for 13 episodes
    Nashville= Renewed
    Rev and Once= Renewed

    Carrie Diaries= Canceled

    Golden Boy = Canceled
    Vegas= Canceled
    Rules= canceled
    CSI NY= You got me. I really don’t know what to think there.

  • Jacob

    I think it is too early to tell if Hannibal will be renewed or not. The thing is Hannibal’s finale is in June, so will NBC renew or cancel it on May 13th or wait.

  • Chris J

    Honestly, NBC is at the point that anything, literally ANYTHING can do as well or better than their current comedies in ratings. It seems that the comedy average outside of The Office, is about a 1.1, and anything new that debuts in the fall can likely match or easily exceed that.

    NBC needs to start strongly considering moving their comedy bloc off of Thursday, where CBS is eating them up and I can’t imagine what would happen to NBC if CBS did pursue a 2 hour comedy bloc on Thursday.

    As much as I’m against it, NBC’s comedies could be good counter programming to ABC’s on Wednesday. NBC’s comedies for the most part appeal to men 18-34, which ABC’s appeal to women 25-54.The reason I have been against NBC moving comedies from Thursday in the past was because there 1 hour bloc on Wednesday has been a failure for years. But maybe if they launch an all new bloc with stronger comedies it could be more successful, and take on ABC?

    Anyway, NBC needs to keep TNN and Whitney in the grave where they belong. All they need is Betty White and Go On/Community as spackle, nothing else.

    Also next season NBC won’t have a place for Celebrity Apprentice or Biggest Loser because of the Olympics. I’m sure either of those realities could be used spackle as well and both would get higher ratings than Whitney or New Normal.

  • alvar

    why would NBC even consider continuing comedy on Thursdays? They can’t compete with CBS and ratings have been all but disastrous.

  • Jon


  • A

    I have a feeling that Nikita will get a final 13 episodes and air October-January and BatB will be give a 13 ep second season and replace Nikita in February.

  • HV

    I think it’s about time to move Malibu Country, Community, and Go On to renewal predicted and Rules of Engagement to cancelation predicted.

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