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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  • Becca Keener

    Thanks Bill for your comments about Malibu Country. It does not semm in ABC”S best interest to cancel the show. It helped Friday night ratings and that says a lot. No show on Friday night is going to hold the same ratings every week;this is sports night, shopping night anf TGIF night. I think the show will be back :maybe, with a few changes and better writers. Reba is the best and her talent does not go unnoticed. She just needs better writers and help from ABC with promos.

  • Fred

    Friday is the least of ABC’s problems. They win the night almost every week!. They shouldn’t mess around with it.

    The problems are:

    Sunday 8:00-11:00. OUAT is steadily dropping, same with Revenge. The 10:00 slot has been very week for quite a while.

    Monday 8:00-10:00. DWTS may be a powerhouse with overall viewers and provide good material for the weekly ABC press release, but it skews way too old. BACHLEOR may not pack in as many viewers but there are more younger viewers watching. At least CASTLE is fairly strong at 10:00.

    Tuesday- The entire night. The recap DWTS is not necessary anymore. ABC needs to make more room for a higher rated show. SPLASH and the various sitcoms ABC tried out, performed terrible. BODY OF PROOF has around 10 million fans, too bad most of them are older than 49. I still think ABC should renew it. It does OK for a 10:00 procedural.

    Wednesday- 8:30 and 9:30 slots are pretty weak. Even 8:00 MIDDLE and 9:00 MODERN FAMILY are suffering some ratings erosion this season. Still safe but a bit worrisome. NASHVILLE at 10:00 does just OK. NASH might improve a bit on Sunday 10:00.

    Thursday 8:00- is a disaster for ABC. That slot needs to be filled with either a cheap profitable contest or a strong scripted show. GREY’S at 9:00 and SCANDAL at 10:00 are very solid.

    ABC needs to correct the myriad aforementioned weakness by FALL 2013.

    Here is what I propose:


    BACHELOR-8:00-2 hours
    NASHVILLE- 10:00


    DWTS-8:00 2 hours- I really would like to shift this show to summer, but ABC will renew it for the FALL 100%


    NEW SHOW- S.H.I.E.L.D.
    NEW SHOW- 10:00-Bring back BOP later in season.


    NEW SITCOM-8:30- Allow SUBURGATORY to return later in the season
    NEW SITCOM- 9:30- Allow NEIGHBORS to return later in the season
    REVENGE-10:00- Should perform better here. Less competition than SUNDDAY.
    Maybe the show will be great again in the original time period!!


    SHARK TANK-8:00 better this than wasting expensive scripted shows.
    SCANDAL-10:00- I know its tempting to move this powerful show, but its SO perfect here.


    SHARK TANK-Why not a double run of this VERY profitable contest.

    This night is working way to well to mess with it.

    4 new shows. 3 hours of new programing. 2 new 1 hour programs and 2 new 30
    minute sitcoms.

  • SteveO

    @ Fred
    I love your schedule. Except How to Live will prob end up at 9:30pm on Wednesday, leaving only 1 sitcom debuting this fall, so let’s try Neighbors and Suburgatory on Fridays at 9. Single cams won’t work on Friday. If the King John pilot is decent, poor Reba might be gone :(

  • Fred


    Thank you. I think its a biit too early to predict How To Live’s future . It’s been dropping weekly.
    However ABC can bring it back later in the season.
    I really want ABC to find suitable companions for Middle & Modern while they are still strong enough . Time is running out.

  • Fred

    I apologize for my spelling errors. I’m forced to use phone at the moment and spell check is a disaster! Btw, Family Tools just might become a hit and force a cancelation of one of ABC’ s weaker sitcoms.

  • Rollie Dethloff

    Does anybody else see OUAT bombing on Tuesdays?

  • Joy


    I was actually reading these comments because of the NBC shows, but I just saw your post and had to respond…

    Who on TV has a bigger fan base than Reba? Seriously, I just asked my officemates what actor/actress on TV has the biggest fan base and this is what came up: (and these are all actual quotes, and the only quote from me is “What about Reba?”)

    “Ashton Kutcher?” “I don’t know. I feel like a lot of people have turned on him since the divorce?”
    “LL Cool J?” “No. He doesn’t perform any more so now people just a think of him as a mediocre actor.”
    “Tina Fey?” “No, her show isn’t on the air anymore.”
    “Maybe Jim Parsons?” “Yeah, he could be.” “I hate that show, but he’s really good on it.”
    “What about Reba?” “Oh yeah, she has to be.” ‘Is she technically an actress?” “You suggested LL Cool J!” “That’s true. Yeah, if she counts I think it has to be her. People love her.” “Yeah, my mom is a Reba fanatic.”

    That was the actual conversation.

    Now, I’ve never seen the Reba show or this new one, and I can only think of one of her songs, but I don’t question the fact that she’s a HUGE star. She’s sold over 55 million albums! (just looked it up) That’s crazy. Now, I imagine that her fans skew older and red statey, but it’s still as big a build in audience that I can think of on TV.

    Anyway, to get to what I originally wanted to talk about…

    Don’t cancel Hannibal!

    It’s the best network show that I’ve seen in years! It’s going to get a huge boost next year because both of the main actors are going to get nominated for Emmies (sp?) Seriously, I can’t believe a show this good is on NBC and the fact that it might now get cancelled is so depressing. What does NBC have to lose? Just give it a second season!

  • Keith Benicek

    Where in the hell did you learn how to “NOT WRITE”. Your comments section is impossible to follow and appears to use “Code” that normal human-beings at not privy to. WRITE LIKE A HUMAN, a NORMAL ONE and knock off the code and Grammar from another planet. Plain full sentences that MAKE SENSE!!

    Geez, I’ve only been a EDITOR for 35 years, what do I know? (MORE THAN YOUR CRAP Writing Style!)

  • HV

    I highly doubt Family Tools will be a hit but I also highly doubt that ABC would cancel the show after airing two episodes.

  • Theoacme

    @Joy: 50 million albums, over how many album releases, over how many years, adds up to not enough discrete fans to save Reba – sorry, the Nielsen demo ratings are what counts to the networks (unless the Syndication Bear is around – see Nikita)…

    …too bad, Reba does well enough on Friday to stay IMO, unless they have something better.

  • bluejays

    Why why why do people think that Elementary is going to move to another week night? Why would CBS do that? They only place they’d move Elementary to that makes sense is a Sunday or Friday – and they won’t do that until year three or four- when it has a syndication deal.

    I must be missing something but I don’t see how it makes sense for them to move Elementary to Monday’s? Unless the theory is its to keep it in a weeknight slot to hopefully let it reach syndication and free up the easier Thursday slot for a new drama?

    But bearing in mind how few moves CBS generally make I don’t see it happening.

  • S g Davis

    I love the comments that are positive for Reba and Malibu Country. Hoping for a second season. Should know soon.

  • Steve

    Ok my take-
    ABC- How to Live, Body of Proof, Castle, Last Man Standing, Greys, and Suburgatory are all renewed. Grey’s will be for final season, LMS and HTL will be Friday Shows.

    CBS- Golden Boy, Rules of Engagement, and Criminal Minds Renewed. GB moves to Fridays in the cancelled CSI: NY time slot.

    NBC- Community, Go On, Hannibal, and Parks and Rec are renewed.

    CW- Nikita gets renewed barely.

    That is my take. CBS will not cancel Rules as it is a great filler for the network. I believe Golden Boy will get a second season to see if it gets better (its a good show just has a bad time slot at 9 on tuesdays). Last Man Standing keeps its Friday time slot and a new comedy follows, as well as maybe one or two more to bring back TGIF! And I believe Grey’s Anatomy will air for its final season next fall/spring.

  • Steve

    bluejays- Elementary will not move, it will stay on Thursday nights following Person of Interest and TBBT and 2 1/2 Men. The only other spot it would work would be to take the 10/9pm slot on Tuesdays if Golden Boy is cancelled. But the overall lineup on Thursdays is amazing, and it leaves viewers really no need to turn the channel.

  • Cory

    I disagree about Grimm being a spackle show. It may have started out as one but I personally feel like the recent move to Tuesday is an indication that the network believes Grimm can be successful in a non-Friday time slot. I believe the network has been wanting to move Grimm off of Fridays for quite some time but hasn’t been able to because of scheduling. Now that other shows are ending their seasons they have moved Grimm as a “ratings tester” and will likely keep Grimm in the Tuesday time slot for the entire next season.

  • David Howell

    I don’t envy anyone with the NBC choices.

    Community should get some sort of order. Maybe there’ll be a 13-episode order on NBC, then a short season 6 airing only on Comedy Central who have the syndication deal, which then ends with a feature length series finale. Ergo, #6seasonsandamovie, of sorts. ;)

    Seriously, it’s too young-skewing to not be the pick of the NBC sitcom morass.

    TNN is first to go for me. I’d also cancel Go On but they won’t and they will regret it (see also: Smash). Guys with Kids honestly has a chance, which isn’t a popular opinion on here – single vs multicam arguments, plus the case for keeping the successor to Leno onside. That’s possibly worth it for the sake of a tick or maybe two.

    Body of Proof will be renewed. My fantasy scheduling has DWTS having a winter run and Tuesday being as it is this spring (filler/DWTS/BOP) to break up a SHIELD-led all-new Tuesday schedule into two rerun-free blocks in fall and spring. Given the show’s legendary cheapness, I wonder if ABC aren’t seeing this as an equivalent to Wife Swap or Supernanny – bargain spackle that can also sell, a bit, in syndication because episodes are self-contained.

  • RedBlueDragon24

    Question- How can Hannibal have such poor ratings yet so many good reviews? People Magazine gives it 4 stars and both the New York Post and IGN.com give the show great reviews saying it’s a terrific show. It seems to me that NBC needs to market Hannibal better so more people tune in at 10/9 central on Thursdays. Either that or Nielsen needs to start taking into account online viewings of episodes. Hannibal definitely should get a season 2 either way. To all you people who aren’t currently watching Hannibal- What are you waiting for? If you watch Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, and/or The Following, but your not watching Hannibal you don’t know what your missing. Watch it. I promise you you’ll be pleased.

  • Cassie


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