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


  • David Howell

    Agree with AO. CBS have crumbling comedy options. They set up this schedule to create a breakout newbie – especially Thursdays – and appear likely to come up empty. Millers is a low-end BBT retainer already, Crazy Ones isn’t holding that, and Monday’s entire schedule is imploding.

    CBS can’t possibly have a worse drama development season than this one, and Men hasn’t got the ratings for renewal at its cost, so no way they don’t go back to three comedy hours, and that’s probably what will hurt M&M. I don’t know which 9pm hour CBS blows up, but it’s one of them. If we assume they blow up the new Thursday one, I think it’ll potentially go like this:

    MON: 8 2BG, 8:30 Mom or M&M, 9 Crazy Ones, 9:30 new singlecam
    THU: 8 TBBT, 8:30 new multicam

    Whatever happens, CBS will renew one more Lorre show than they ought to, as part of the negotiations with him over TBBT. That one will likely be spackle

  • Duarte

    I think The Good Wife will survive one more year and The Mentalist will be killed by Red John

  • anna g

    Nice title Tom :) Eye catching
    As for your predictions – the situation has changed rapidly since last Sunday when CBS shows TM and TGW hit the bottom with 1.3 and 1.2 ratings. monday was weak despite TBBT rerun – last year it was perfoming miracles with ratings above 3.0 but this year it got barely 2.2. Hostages get CW numbers and it’s dead. It must a slap in CBS face – this show has Oscar actors in it. Tuesday looks very good with PoI strengthening each week. Wednesday is so so, nothing to worry about. Now Thursday is a mess. TBBT is huge as always but after that the problem starts. The Millers lose big portion of the demo and The Crazy ones drop as well. TAHM is a shadow of what it was even last year when it aired after TBBT. Elementary is sinking fast – I have not expected this show to drop to 1.5 so rapidly. It had 2.1 rstings week before, but honestly I don’t like any episode of season 2 so far – the writing has become the problem – stories are convoluted and boring and I canno fell the chemistry between Holmes and Joan as I did in season 1. as for Friday schedule, Undercover boss seems to be the weakest link here and the yesterday preliminary numbers 1.8 are probably inflated by NLCS game. Hawaii Five-O is the strongest show on Friday and it stabilizises the entire evening.

  • Fake Me Out

    Perhaps it’s too late/early but I think your last sentence in the Mom paragraph is missing it’s point … “does begin to.” ???

    Although I’m warming up to Mom a little bit, it’s still a stretch … or perhaps it’s just the heat has been turned on in the apartment. Some of the bits just seem to me to be too far over the top … trying to get your son to wear his sisters underwear? Really? Taking his pants off in a dollar store to change? Really? Rather than being funny it seems to be a blueprint on how to turn your son into a future serial killer.

  • Niallerz24

    I dont like the bubble watch anymore. I preferred with the 5 categories: Certain Renewal,
    Likely Renewal,
    On the Bubble,
    Likely Cancellation
    Certain Cancellation.
    The 5 categories gave a better picture the three categories don’t show a true picture.

  • ErwanFromFrance

    I just hope that Revolution, Parenthood, Hart Of Dixie, Carrie Diaries, Brooklyn 99 and Michael J Fox Show will be safe !

  • Tran

    Nashville will survive. That simple.

  • Duarte

    @Tran I’m not complete sure about that.

  • Mark L

    Lena, check the last line of the article – “Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.”. That’s why they don’t mention Nikita.


    Hope Nashville could suivive after all.

  • ivy

    H50 moved to renewal predicted–Yipee!

  • Chris J

    For NBC:

    I agree with most of your predictions. Parks will probably be renewed and used for spackle next season, as NBC would be better off trying to relaunch their comedies again next year rather than keeping any if these duds. If Community does well in January it could see a spackle order as well.

    As far as dramas NBC renewed 5 last year, so if none of the midseason dramas take then Parenthood or revolution could see renewal. I’d say a no to Revolution unless it gets a special deal with Netflix or something to make it cheaper for NBC (kinda like other low rated dramas on cable such as Falling Skies and The Killing). Parenthood is an expensive show, but it has been doing excellent on Thursday 10pm compared to anything else NBC has put there the past 3 years.

    Anyway both dramas chances I think rest on the success of Chicago PD. If it sinks I’d say Parenthood comes back for a final season. If CPD does well or at least average both Revolution and Parenthood are done (or renewed and moved to Friday/Sunday?)

  • Eelna

    What’s wrong with you? Reign is on the bubble, not cancellation predicted. The numbers are better then mondays and even the rerun was doing better than hod or batb. It still had the same rating point like ttp.

    By the way, lead in never works, if no one is interested in watching it. Shows like batb or the secret circle dropped very fast and i think reign can be steady, because there were a lot of people watching it fridays and not thursday.

  • Tukan

    You guess too much in my opinion.. It is hard to predict for example the fate of B99 or Parks and Rec. I would put them in the bubble.. and also Goldbergs could improve. Its still quite early and its hard to predict that much…

  • Ted Craig

    ABC has wanted five hours of comedy for years, but the execs might rethink that based on this season’s weak performance.

    TGW and Parenthood are on the wrong side of the syndication gods. They have enough episodes and can now be cut loose.

    I still suspect M&M is being scheduled to accommodate Melissa McCarthy.

  • Jon

    This column has become a joke with almost no purpose. Its basically become useless. A bubble watch should have bubble shows. Your list has only two. This is way too early to be that certain either way that your bubble list looks like it should in may not October.

  • Noel

    The Carrie Diaries had bad premiere numbers and it didn’t get canceled, so Reign is stull doing relatively well. And Star Crossed doesn’t have the potential to get that good numbers. Elementary would be a nice syndicated show, so hopefully CBS will consider that.

  • Carmen

    From Tom Shaw opening narrative:

    If it (Mindy) is getting that worst rating even after airing behind New Girl, what happens when it moves elsewhere?

    Who knows, perhaps not even as well as it is now, but using New Girl as an example of strength is a poor premise this year. That show has dropped quite a bit.
    Perhaps people are starting to realize it never has had anything going for it beyond Zooey Deschanel’s charisma.

  • CBSviewer

    There’s a lot of cancelation predicted for ABC.

    Next season Schedule:

    8:00 – Dancing with the Stars
    10:00 – NEW DRAMA

    8:00 – SHIELD
    9:00 – NEW DRAMA
    10:00 – Castle

    8:00 – The Middle
    8:30 – NEW COMEDY
    9:00 – Modern Family
    9:30 – NEW COMEDY
    10:00 – NEW DRAMA

    8:00 – NEW DRAMA
    9:00 – Grey’s Anatomy
    10:00 – Scandal

    8:00 – Last Man Standing
    8:30 – Suburgatory
    9:00 – Shark Tank
    10:00 – 20/20

    8:00 – Once Upon a Time
    9:00 – Revenge
    10:00 – Nashville

    Thoughts ?

  • Anthony

    My only disagreements this week involve the Fox comedies. I agree with your text that I am not sure which one (or ones) will be renewed. I just think you need to put them in the bubble category rather than in Cancellation Predicted category. I could see both Mindy and B99 returning next season. B99 is getting the Superbowl exposure, which is a sign of faith. Also both shows are produced by Universal so they could likely broker a deal to keep both on the air at a bit of a discount.

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