Bubble Watch: Will 'Revolution,' 'Nashville,' 'Elementary' & 'The Mindy Project' Survive The Terrible Twos?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

October 20th, 2013


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** (2014-15).  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.

The Terrible Twos!

For years, you have heard tvbythenumbers repeat that any show with three full seasons (roughly 66 episodes) is virtually guaranteed to get one more season for syndication.

The extension of this is that any show at two full seasons is essentially deciding on a 44 episode renewal.

The problem, especially this year, is that if those sophomore shows are doing poorly, that’s a huge – and lengthy – bet the network has to make.

How those questionable sophomores line up:


Pro: Not doing terribly for 10pm.

Con: “Not doing terribly” equates to just 80% of ABC’s scripted average. Soaps historically aren’t that profitable in syndication. Limited number of alternate timeslots – Revenge is begging to be moved to Sunday @10 next season, which only leaves Tuesday @10 and the good old ABC Death Slot (Thursday @ 8).


Pro: CBS looks like it will have room on Sundays next year; had been doing adequately this season for a 10pm show.

Con: This week’s drop may not have entirely been baseball related – it has dropped every week this season. What is its floor?

The Mindy Project

Pro: Fox is developing as if they will have at least two hours of comedy next season, and will need insurance. AdWeek’s annual estimates suggest the show still has value.

Con: Fox’s worst rated show of the season (just 73% of Fox’s scripted average), albeit only a tenth behind Dads’ cumulative 18-49 rating. If it is getting that worst rating even after airing behind New Girl, what happens when it moves elsewhere?


Pro: Started off in line with how it ended last season – but without the The Voice lead-in!

Con: And then dropped every week since the premiere. A steady stream of new shows started after The Voice means more and more competition for drama space in future years on NBC.

None of these situations are great; until their freshmen fail, I’m not particularly positive on any of the sophomores’ situations.


This week’s premieres and other notable data points:

While The Goldbergs’ lead-in is leveling off, The Goldbergs is not. This week it fell below all the Wednesday options, and I am moving it to cancellation.

(Note: I wouldn’t be surprised by – I even expect - a backorder for The Goldbergs! ABC only has two midseason comedies, Suburgatory and Mixology. Unless ABC kills the Tuesday comedy block – and with the hiatuses they have planned for their dramas, they don’t appear to have the backup inventory to do so – the most likely outcome is Suburgatory replaces Trophy Wife, Mixology takes over from Super Fun Night in March or April, and ABC has to ride out The Goldbergs until May.)

Back In The Game should consider making The Cancellation Bear their team’s mascot, as it is living up to the site’s adage by running faster than the rest of the freshmen comedies (after taking the Modern Family inflation into account). I am moving it to the bubble, as its survival now depends more on how many comedy hours ABC schedules next year – and who is doing the scheduling (more on that next week).

Super Fun Night has now fallen to the level where it likely implodes without the Modern Family lead-in. I am moving it to cancellation.

The Millers and The Crazy Ones have apparently leveled off above the CBS scripted average; no surprise, both were given backorders.

Mom, airing after a (admittedly worse rated than an original 2 Broke Girls) The Big Bang Theory repeat, dropped another tenth… and still was given a backorder. I don’t know if this is the power of the Chuck Lorre name, CBS’ lack of faith in its midseason comedies, or both. The backorder doesn’t sway my opinion on its chances – Mom is still CBS’ worst rated comedy at the moment. That CBS is ending How I Met Your Mother, is unlikely to use Mike & Molly for anything beyond spackle in the future, and is increasingly likely to put a fork in Two and a Half Men does begin to.

Hawaii Five-0 continues to hold up reasonably well, while Blue Bloods has dropped a bit, neither The Good Wife or The Mentalist has impressed without the late NFL game, and now even Elementary has sunk a bit. I wanted to wait until I saw numbers vs. regular competition, but after all of the above, I’ve moved Hawaii Five-0 to renewal – CBS has too many other problems to worry about that show.

Reign’s premiere tied the worst Tuesday -Thursday performer on the CW. With Star-Crossed waiting in the wings, I have to get my “Its reign will be short!” jokes in early as I don’t expect a backorder.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been doing the best of the three mediocrely rated Fox comedies; little surprise that Fox gave it a backorder and the second post-Super Bowl slot. I am still unconvinced which (if any!) of the three get renewed.

Ironside was canceled, with Chicago PD taking over the slot in January. No one was surprised.

Welcome to the Family rose a tenth this week (maybe Eva Longoria helped?); still doing under a 1, no one was surprised when it was cancelled and the 8pm hour turns into Community followed by Parks & Recreation in 2014.

The Michael J. Fox Show fell half a point last week. Turns out it wasn’t due to Glee, as it was flat this week. I am moving it to cancellation. I expect The Michael J. Fox Show to remain NBC’s #1 freshman comedy this year; I no longer see the ratings staying at the point where NBC has anything to lose by not going for another reboot.

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

Show Network Status
Lucky 7 ABC Canceled
How I Met Your Mother CBS Final Season
We Are Men CBS Canceled
American Dad Fox Moving to TBS
Ironside NBC Canceled
Welcome To The Family NBC Canceled
Betrayal ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Goldbergs ABC Cancellation Predicted
Nashville ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Neighbors ABC Cancellation Predicted
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ABC Cancellation Predicted
Super Fun Night ABC Cancellation Predicted
Trophy Wife ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Good Wife CBS Cancellation Predicted
Hostages CBS Cancellation Predicted
The Mentalist CBS Cancellation Predicted
Mom CBS Cancellation Predicted
Beauty & The Beast CW Cancellation Predicted
Reign CW Cancellation Predicted
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Michael J. Fox Show NBC Cancellation Predicted
Parenthood NBC Cancellation Predicted
Revolution NBC Cancellation Predicted
Sean Saves The World NBC Cancellation Predicted
Back In The Game ABC On The Bubble
Two and a Half Men CBS On The Bubble
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC Renewal Predicted
Castle ABC Renewal Predicted
Grey's Anatomy ABC Renewal Predicted
Last Man Standing ABC Renewal Predicted
The Middle ABC Renewal Predicted
Modern Family ABC Renewal Predicted
Once Upon a Time ABC Renewal Predicted
Revenge ABC Renewal Predicted
Scandal ABC Renewal Predicted
The Big Bang Theory CBS Renewal Predicted
Blue Bloods CBS Renewal Predicted
The Crazy Ones CBS Renewal Predicted
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
CSI CBS Renewal Predicted
Elementary CBS Renewal Predicted
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewal Predicted
The Millers CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS: LA CBS Renewal Predicted
Person of Interest CBS Renewal Predicted
2 Broke Girls CBS Renewal Predicted
Arrow CW Renewal Predicted
Hart of Dixie CW Renewal Predicted
The Originals CW Renewal Predicted
Supernatural CW Renewal Predicted
The Tomorrow People CW Renewal Predicted
The Vampire Diaries CW Renewal Predicted
Bones Fox Renewal Predicted
Family Guy Fox Renewal Predicted
The New Girl Fox Renewal Predicted
The Blacklist NBC Renewal Predicted
Chicago Fire NBC Renewal Predicted
Law & Order: SVU NBC Renewal Predicted
Parks & Recreation NBC Renewal Predicted
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Glee Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Sleepy Hollow Fox Renewed


  • zilla-rilla

    First of all. Kudos on the clever title. I chuckled out loud.
    Second, I agree with all the of your predictions other than that for ‘Reign’, ‘The Good Wife’, and ‘The Mindy Project’ – I think they are all still definitely bubble shows. Especially Reign, which has one data point as of now. I’ve noticed you are very stingy with giving shows a spot on the bubble.

  • Lena

    Why do you always forget to add Nikita?

  • Networkman

    Once again, Parks & Rec should at least be on the bubble. NBC should consider simply wiping the slate clean and just adding two new comedies next season. And I would also put Brooklyn Nine-Nine on the bubble. It can’t be certain cancellation when FOX is going to air it after the SuperBowl. They are hoping that it catches on and with the increase viewers from that exposure, it certainly makes it a show that could possibly return for a second season.

  • Jack

    One rating point or not, Reign premiered to the worst numbers in the post TVD slot. The question now should be not whether or not it’s cancelled, but if it’s going to air all ordered episodes.

  • Lily

    Agree with most of the predictions, but think there are much more show on the bubble. ‘The Good Wife’ for example or even ‘Parenthood’ that has been on the bubble since it first aired and somehow was renewed.
    Also believe ‘Nashville’ is still on the bubble. It has a stable fan base, it’s doing REALLY good in markets outside the US, and it’s still early to tell about this season for her, since the show had many changes in the past year and is now growing an audience.

  • Wright

    Revolution and Reign don’t deserve to be listed as cancellation predicted. Both are on the bubble and Reign could keep its premiere rating and shock everyone.

  • Cyrax86

    Nashville will be renewed only if all 3 midseason dramas flop. Out of those, only Killer Women has any chance in my opinion as the other two will go replacing the limited shows and die a quick death.

    Too bad The Neighbors has no chance to survive the terrible two. I just hope all 22 episodes will air properly.

  • Mitchell


    Mid October isn’t too late to join the bandwagon! Everyone else, climb aboard!

  • Igwell

    I’d put American Dad in the renewal tier, since there will be new episodes on TBS.

  • Avery

    My ABC schedule for next year, with some radical changes. First I think they should reduce 1 hour of comedy, its clearly not working.


    08.00 Once Upon A Time
    09.00 Grey’s Anatomy
    10.00 Revenge


    08.00 DWTS/Bachelor
    10.00 Castle


    08.00 Agents Of Shield
    09.00 NEW DRAMA (male skewing)
    10.00 NEW DRAMA


    08.00 The Middle
    08.30 NEW COMEDY (compatible with Middle)
    09.00 Modern Family
    09.30 NEW COMEDY (compatible with MF)
    10.00 NEW DRAMA


    08.00 Shark Tank
    09.00 Scandal
    10.00 NEW DRAMA


    08.00 Last Man Standing
    08.30 Suburgatory
    09.00 Nashville
    10.00 20/20

  • Rob3008

    I’m baffled as to why NBC don’t move Revolution to Wednesday at 10pm to take over Ironside’s slot, at least until January. Surely it would perform much better there?

  • alvar

    Don’t forget The Neighbors, although of course it has no chance of surviving with ratings under a 1.0

  • AO

    I also believe that it’s too early to predict Reign‘s cancelation. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it drops and does get canceled, but we’ve seen The Originals grow and The TP is, so far, steady (though it’s still early for it too).

  • AdamP

    My Bubble Watch:


    Trophy Wife
    Beauty & the Beast


    The Neighbors
    Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
    Super Fun Night
    The Mentalist
    The Mindy Project
    Sean Saves the World


    Last Man Standing
    Back in the Game
    The Goldbergs
    The Good Wife
    The Michael J. Fox Show


    Blue Bloods
    Hawaii Five-0
    Two and a Half Men
    The Originals
    The Tomorrow People
    Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    Parks & Recreation


    Grey’s Anatomy
    The Middle
    Modern Family
    Once Upon a Time
    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    2 Broke Girls
    The Big Bang Theory
    Criminal Minds
    NCIS: Los Angeles
    Person of Interest
    The Crazy Ones
    The Millers
    Hart of Dixie
    The Vampire Diaries
    Family Guy
    New Girl
    Chicago Fire
    Law & Order: SVU
    The Blacklist

  • AO

    I don’t know that Mike & Molly will be used as spackle again. I subscribe to the theory that CBS really wanted to generate some breakout comedy hits this year, with HIMYM ending, TAAHM growing long in the tooth, and 2BG not being the tentpole they wanted it to be. For that reason, they left M&M in reserve. I could be wrong, but assuming it comes back to respectable numbers and is renewed, I think it has a good chance of debuting in September next year.

  • AO

    Sorry for the italics above.

    Meanwhile, Parenthood has a history of stability, staying at numbers that at first seem horrible while everything else on NBC’s schedule slowly drops to meet it. Back in Season 2 the vast majority of commenters here wrote it off early as an obvious cancelation, which, of course, didn’t happen. This might be the Season that that changes, but I’m likely going to wait a couple of weeks to see what happens with it.

  • Liam

    I don’t understand how you can have Reign as cancellation predicted and The Tomorrow People as renewal predicted when they both scored the same ratings. Seems a little premature

  • Amy

    I am not enjoying Revolution as much as I did last year. It’s a shame because it was so good it’s first season. Still love Elementary though, and hope that it lives to see a third season.

  • AO

    I do agree about SFN. It’s ratings are not good, it has little in common with Modern Family and might be hurting Nashville. I’d love them to move it to Tuesday (or off the schedule) in order to try to save one of The Goldbergs or Trophy Wife, either of which seems like it would be a better fit on their family night.

  • omabin

    I am beginning to agree with your predictions more because as the numbers come in you are aligning yourself more with me but I am still annoyed with the fact that you give arguments that justify shows being bubble on the text (as in, could go either way) and then put the as renewed or cancelled like that in the table.

    Anyway, disagreements:
    – The Goldbergs/Back in the Game: if forced to guess, I would go with cancelled for the goldbergs and renewed for back in the game as you did, but I don’t see the point in guessing for now. Let’s see how suburgatory does when it returns, let’s see where both shows level off and let’s see if there is a differential large enough between comedies and dramas on ABC this season. My guess is that they will stick with the 4th comedy hour if only because their flopping dramas are flopping harder than their flopping comedies, not to mention they are harder to replace, which means I wouldn’t make a call on these just yet. You like to mention competition dynamics a lot so it could be worth noting that Back in the Game will have to deal with Idol come spring whereas the goldbergs will be free of the voice. As I’ve said, the gap is not large enough yet to make a call.

    – Nashville: This is the pure definition of a bubble show and I lean towards renewal. I don’t think ABC will launch 4 new dramas again especially when it is likely to need new comedies all over the place again and also likely to make some moves that it needs to promote. This year I think it was an exception because Shield was sort of a self-starter and because they went for the “all new tuesday” thing. If no midseason drama makes it, which is very likely, ABC will already need to launch 3 new dramas as it is. I doubt they will cancel Nashville in that situation, especially as I don’t see the 10pm Wednesdays as a prime slot to launch a new show.

    – The Good Wife: I would leave it on the bubble. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to reduce comedy hours, that Intelligence flops and that the mentalist is a goner, in which case the good wife stays. Or that they hold undercover boss again even if let’s say intelligence does work or the comedy hours stick. There is a number of combinations that result in it staying, so I would hold on the prediction for now. This being said, I am actually ok with you guessing this one for now, I would just be more conservative.

    – Mom: It’s a bubble show. It’s now pulling comparable ratings to two and a half men in a harder timeslot with a weaker lead-in. It’s also probably cheaper. If they stick with 4 hours, they already have 2 slots for new comedies (How I Met Your Mother and presumably held for sparkle Mike and Molly) and I doubt they premiere more than that with so much attention needed on the drama front, so I think Mom gets a pass (if not, it battles it out with Two and a Half Men). If they go for 3 hours, then yes Mom is in trouble (but no more than Two and a Half Men IMO), but there are too many variables to predict so. It’s bubble.

    – The Mindy Project: I now predict it as renewed. It should maybe be on the bubble but its 18-34 are so profitable that I doubt FOX gets rid of it, espeially considering the alternative comedies are younger and pull in the same 18-49 ratings, so there is no upside.

    – B99: It’s too soon to predict cancellation for this one. FOX is invested in it or else they would not give it a post Super Bowl slot. Let’s see how things evolve. Bubble

    – Parenthood/Revolution: These are both bubble shows. I have a hard time imagining NBC getting rid of both, but I also don’t imagine both coming back. Assuming TBL is held to bridge voice cycles again, then the Monday-Thursday lineup with be 3 hours of voice, the blacklist, chicago fire, svu, chicago pd (making a leap here but if it doesn’t make it, only goes to strenghten my argument), 2 hours of comedies because they just won’t give up and 2 new dramas (I don’t buy that they premiere 3 new dramas on the monday-thursday schedule during fall). That would leave one open slot to be battled out between Parenthood and Revolution. I am not sure who would win there. Maybe Parenthood but at this point we have to wait and see how things progress. It’s premature to call for their cancellation.

    – Elementary: I don’t see a compelling case for renewal. It doesn’t have the numbers to remain a weekday and it is already performing at the same level as friday shows and only barely better than the sunday ones which means it would die if moved there. What’s their incentive to keep it and not premiere a new drama there? It’s bubble

    I also find it bold that you put Parks as renewal but I don’t necessarily disagree, especially since it will move to 8h30.

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