Bubble Watch: Will The Olympics Have NBC Back In Bed With 'Community' and 'Whitney?'

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

May 5th, 2013

Whitney - Season 2

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.

Last Bubble Watch of the 2012-13 Season

If history holds, we'll know all renewals and cancellations from the 2012-13 season by the end of next Friday, May 10, so by next Sunday nothing will be on the bubble.

Not much new this week, but Family Tools debuted on the list with cancellation predicted.  So what of the 7 shows remaining on the bubble? Here's an early glimpse at some of my "Oddsmakers" picks for Tuesday's Renew/Cancel posts where Bill & I will give our "percentage of renewal" chances picks for all shows not already renewed or canceled (not just bubble shows). My percentages for the bubble shows could change (dramatically) between then and now.

Body of Proof:  I'm leaning towards renewal (55%).

How to Live With Your Parents: not a lot of ratings history to make a pick,  and it's ratings are in the "could go either way" band. A true toss-up! But, 50% in oddsmakers is cowardly, so leaning towards cancellation (45% chance of renewal).

Malibu Country:  If ABC sticks with a Friday comedy block, it definitely has a shot, but even then I'm leaning towards cancellation (40% chance of renewal).

Rules of Engagement: Unlike the others, this one isn't a true toss-up based on ratings. But its ratings have been good enough where wheeling and dealing (Sony is involved in the show's production) to keep the show around as schedule spackle didn't seem completely ridiculous. But I'm more than leaning towards cancellation (33% chance of renewal).

Community: Of all the NBC comedy bubble shows, I like Community's chances the least. I'm still leaning towards renewal (55%)

Whitney: More than leaning towards renewal. (75%).

Go On:  Even more more than leaning towards renewal than Whitney (85%)

Speaking of NBC's bubble comedies...

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 another piece this week involving, you guessed it, schedule spackle. Tom thinks about things much more from a scheduling perspective than I do. I haven't spent any time thinking about what NBC will stick on Fridays next season. Tom has!

Will The Winter Olympics Give Whitney Another Shot?

NBC has a major project for this upcoming season: Rebuilding their comedies. With The Office finished, NBC only has one comedy with the numbers to (barely) warrant renewal: Parks & Recreation. Add the new Michael J Fox show (with 22 episodes), and that still leaves probably two more new shows in Fall (and possibly two more in Spring as well).

Complicating matters is the 2014 Winter Olympics. Running from February 6th to February 23rd, it provides NBC with a platform to launch new comedies on February 27th, but also a problem: they have to come up with shows to cover until January 30th, itself the first day of the February 2014 sweeps.

Let's say NBC starts The Voice on September 9th (and why not, given how well it worked out this year). That means we'll probably see NBC's comedies premiere on September 19th. That gives NBC 20 weeks it has to cover until the Olympics. Even assuming NBC takes weeks off for Thanksgiving, Holiday specials, New Year's, etc., that's well over 13 weeks. I find it unlikely NBC keeps an Animal Practice-level flop on the air until the Olympics.

Or to summarize, NBC will be launching more Thursday comedies than ever before, will have every reason to delay starting new comedies until February, and will need extra episodes to cover until the Olympics. That's the perfect recipe for spackle in bulk. I expect NBC to again schedule an hour of comedy spackle on Fridays.

Now, which shows? That's the difficult question. I expect at least three shows to get spackle orders. In order of likelihood, by my estimation:

  • Go On - Produced by Universal, NBC may want to give it another shot.
  • Whitney - Produced by Universal, held up okay in various time slots.
  • New Normal - Not produced by Universal, and the numbers have dropped to "ugly even for NBC". However, NBC may want to give it another chance, may see some value in keeping Ryan Murphy happy, and may want to demonstrate to showrunners that NBC will give their shows every chance. (If there are any "political" considerations, they are positive.)
  • Community - Yes, it could use 4 more episodes for domestic syndication. However, it already has a cable deal, there are no showrunners NBC wants to keep happy, and numbers have dropped down to nothing special. (I also still wonder if Sony/Comedy Central won't go the Futurama route and give it a made-for-DVD wrap up movie they can chop up into 4 episodes.)
  • 1600 Penn / Guys With Kids - Admittedly only given one chance, but the numbers are bad and there no showrunners NBC will want to keep happy (Fallon should already be covered with The Tonight Show).

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
Family Tools ABC Cancellation Predicted
Happy Endings ABC Cancellation Predicted
Red Widow 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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  • ryan

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Michael J Fox comedy isn’t successful. I don’t think it will flop, and I expect it to debut big, but Go On showed the challenges of having a sitcom around topics that aren’t funny like death or diseases. Maybe it’s because I’m too young to remember Michael J Fox before he had Parkinson’s, but I don’t plan on watching his show.

  • Dan

    @Chris J – The only reason I wouldnt say launch 2 comedies GTuesday at 9 is because ultimately that is a bad slot for comedies. They will be going up against DWTS Results likely, NCIS Red likely and FOX’s comedies. Since Revolution is likely sticking on Mondays at 10, and likely Chicago Fire’s spinoff will air post CF, NBC would more likely want to launch a drama out of The Voice in the more competetive Tuesday 9 slot rather than air a drama Wed at 8 where they have failed. Whitney was low rated but high rated comapred to all other comedies except Office and Parks and did consistent for Wed. Since theres no Office or 30 Rock and Parks & Go On may be the only returning comedies Thursdays it might be wise to keep comedies limited to Thurs 8-10 and Wed 8-9. NBC had way to many comedies last fall and that was there downfall.

    I agree that MJF should air at 9 followed by Parks but that would be a big risk putting an unestablished comedy in the slot but the show already has a 22 episode order so its likely that it could assume the 9:00 slot.

    If either Go On or Community would be held until midseason it would without a doubt be Community since the show maybe has a year left while Go On may have more. But I’m thinking Community could be like 30 Rock was and air its final season Sept-Jan rather than Feb-May.

    Basically I’m not sure how 3 dramas would work out Wed but NBC could try it.

  • HV

    Two problems with your schedule: MJF won’t be at 9:30. Family comedies don’t do well there. Switch it and Parks & Rec. Also, only one new comedy? NBC has a ton of great (sounding) comedy pilots!

  • Dan

    @HV – Ok maybe MJF will be at 9 and Parks may air at 930 but it would be a risk no matter where they air.

    Also I didn’t say one new comedy, I had 2. Michael J Fox thurs and maybe one on Wed after Whitney. Maybe Community will air midseason allowing for one more new fall comedy on Thurs (along with Parks, Go On and MJF) A lot of new comedies didn’t work for NBC last season so the less comedies the better. This seasons track record

    Go On – Started out promising but has gone done to garbage levels. Will be the save face comedy renewal.
    The New Normal – started out well but has dipped down to garbage levels worse than Go On. Will be axed after 1 season.
    Animal Practice – Garbage ratings, axed after 7 eps.
    Guys With Kids – Started ok but again crumbled to crap levels. Will be cancelled
    1600 Penn – Did terrible throughout its 13 ep run. Will be cancelled
    Next Caller – cancelled before it aired
    Save Me – Pushed to summer, will be cancelled

    So many promising shows don’t always equal success. If NBC has a few comedy’s then they will be fine. Parks & Rec has a few more years left, Go On and Whitney can rebound and MJF will probably be a success.

  • Chris J


    Go On did pretty good in the fall and had no problem beating New Girl in ratings. Fox’s comedies are pretty weak, and honestly there’s stronger competition on Wednesday at 8pm (X Factor, Survivor, ABC Comedy bloc) than Tuesday 9pm.

    Also this season Chicago Fire beat expectations without a VOICE lead in, and is now out-rating The Voice-boosted Revolution. If NBC launches a good drama with decent buzz it won’t need The VOICE lead in. NBC’s comedies on the other hand have had a difficult time launching without any help.

    Whitney is as weak as the rest of the lot. For the season it ties duds such as Animal Practice and Up All Night in season average ratings, and Guys With Kids actually ended the season with a higher 18-49 average. Of course Whitney has the advantage that it already finished it’s second season, but in my opinion, that mean if NBC renews Whitney now, they committed to 2 full seasons to get it to syndication.

    This season Whitney was pulling 1.0s, next season it may dip to 0.7s or worse. Would that be worth the investment for NBC, when new comedies will probably do better?

    Anyway, I agree with what you said about NBC launching too many comedies last fall. They took a gamble and it seemed successful at first since all of their new comedies, with the exception of Animal Practice, were out rating 30 Rock and Up All Night. Sadly they all crashed in the Spring, but at least they took a risk.

    This year I hope NBC can stabilize the lineup. Mondays, Wednesday and Friday are pretty set and stable. They just need to figure out Tuesday and Thursday next year and I hope that’s where all of their attention goes versus last year when they seemingly threw everything everywhere to see what stuck.

  • Chris J


    I agree Parkinson’s can be a touchy subject, but there are things they can do to make the show funny, without being sad like Go On can be at times. They can play with the format and maybe make it mockumentary style. Let the whole show be a parody of itself. That could be funny, and mockumentaries work for single cam comedies (Office, P&R, Modern Family).

    If it’s just another “heart warming” comedy that shows the struggles of MJF’s life then I agree it probably won’t last. People watch comedy to laugh not to get their hearts warmed, and if it relies on stereotypes or slapstick (New Normal…) I won’t be watching for long.

  • Bill


    Thanks for the reply and clarification! I knew multi-cams are shot in front if a live studio audience, and probably should have worded my question better so I apologize for that. I had specifically been wondering about “pre-recorded”laugh tracks that are added in after taping-like MASH did! There we go, that’s the kind of pre recorded laugh track I was wondering about and how many current multi-cams insert pre recorded laughing later. It’s hard to tell what’s from the actual audience at the tapings, and what’s been added in later. But thank you for the reply!

  • Theoacme

    NBC Fridays: Why not Dracula, Grimm, and then Hannibal on Fridays?

    A bit expensive for Fridays, but it would help give NBC an identity as a “go for it!” network, and the theme would probably work, too.

    Two hour Datelines (with as much Keith Morrison as possible) as supplemental schedule coverage, would work nicely, as the typical Dateline story theme fits with this Friday schedule.

    Not sure what else NBC could add to fill Fridays out – non-major sports, a la Wide World of Sports? (Keeping Bob Costas off the street and in the studio, as busy as possible, is probably a wise use of NBC’s cash.)

    Or, another horror show – “Where In The World Should Matt Lauer Be Defenestrated?” – and have Gary Busey and Meat Loaf host…

  • Marc


    8:00 Whitney
    8:30 NEW MULTI CAM Comedy”

    I just think it is a horrible idea to use Whitney as an anchor for ANYTHING. My wife and I actually enjoyed Guys with Kids, but it never had much of a shot with Whitney’s 18 viewers leading the night. If you cancel GWK, I’d cancel Whitney and just start over. Of course, by the end of their runs, Go On and New Normal were starting to make Whitney look like ratings gold…

    NBC is just a mess.

  • HV

    I think that NBC will renew Parks and Recreation and Community today or tomorow, and then save the renewals of Hannibal and Go On for the upfronts, where Deception, Whitney, The New Normal, Guys with Kids, 1600 Penn, and Up All Night will all be canceled.
    Who else thinks that NBC will renew a couple of comedies early (at least Parks and Recreation)?

  • Rave Mystery

    Only the networks know what they are going to renew and what is with comparing shows to justify why the one you like should be renewed? I want another season of Whitney but let’s all come to reality people all NBC comedies/sitcoms haven’t been doing well, some got under 3 million. If NBC renews some of these shows it they better make sure they promote them right and put them in good time slots.

  • Marius

    Whitney, 1600 Penn is out. That’ll lighten the bubble list for next week.

  • Cassie

    1600 Penn was a show that really sucked! Deception sucked no one knew who Vivian’s killer was. I am hoping that Scandal, Revenge, Castle, and Body of proof get renewed. I am so glad that the following, the good wife, and Revolution are renewed.

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