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


  • aciel

    if nashville does get renewed then both revenge and nashville should switch timeslots.

  • aciel

    i don’t abc should put anymore new shows because clearly so far all of the pilots excluding agents of shield have been flops. so as of now they should focus on maxmizes the audiences for their current shows

  • John A

    People already making Fall 2013 Fantasy Schedules? Cant you wait till like February or March to do that.

  • Jamey

    people crack me up making those fantasy schedules 1 year in advance and put shows like Mixology (which, I am excited for) but have yet to even air a single episode and they just assume that they will be a huge hit and renew them but throw other shows away. I think Super Fun Night is a bubble show. However, I do think it still has a fighting chance. Rebel Wilson is a draw, love her or hate her, she is a draw.

  • Cyrax86

    @Jamey, We’ll see what a draw Rebel Wilson is when Super Fun Night airs after a Modern Family repeat on 10/30…

  • Kyle

    I think Nashville and Super Fun Night will get renewed and Elementary will be cancelled.

  • Jamey

    Im guessing about a 1.8 that night. But what Im saying is that shows like Mixology havent even premiered yet, nothing against Mixology, but what logic is there in people making fantasy schedules for 2014 placing a show on it that hasnt even premiered yet?

  • DenverDean

    Not sure I agree with “44 episode” renewal. Shows like TU (69 episodes), Flashpoint (75 episodes) have been in syndication. Nikita will finish with 73. The first two certainly have more value than 100+ episodes of a serial like Revenge, etc. BoP was in its third season and didn’t get renewed – even though it’s a procedural – bummer ABC. Yes, I know it had a couple of short season, but even GA considers it’s 9 episode S1 and Scandal seven-episode S1 “seasons.”

  • SJ

    As far as ABC comedy backorders, I expect The Goldbergs and Back in the Game to get back-9 orders, and Super Fun Night to get maybe a 3-episode order before Mixology takes over the time slot. Unfortunately, I see no reason in giving Trophy Wife any kind of back order since Suburgatory is already on the bench and it has more episodes (13) than Mixology (10, I believe).

    The decent thing to do at mid-season would be to give Suburgatory the SHIELD lead-in and slide The Goldbergs to 9:30 but ABC will just show it the middle finger as it has all its veteran comedies not named The Middle or Modern Family and let it die after the waning Goldbergs.

    But yeah, Super Fun Night and Trophy Wife are now certain cancellations in my book. The Goldbergs and Back in the Game hanging on in the bottom bubble range.

    As far as the dramas, anything lower than Revenge goes (that means Nashville).

    NBC’s comedy situation is once again dire. I’d like to see Parks and Rec and Community return for their final seasons next year but NBC might just be better off starting from scratch. I still think there’s a chance, however slight, that MJF Show gets renewed.

  • Jamey

    I personally think that CBS, while still in better position than ABC & NBC, is really catching up to them problem wise. They havent launched a true hit in years. What was the last true hit they launched?

  • DM

    Can Bubble Watch please go back to being 5 categories instead of 3?

  • SJ


    I’m guessing SFN does a 1.8 this Wednesday. It will likely get something like 1.3-1.4 when it airs on its own – at best!


    You must have missed the part – or decided to miss it – where Tom mentioned that the mandatory season 4 renewal always happens with shows that have had three FULL seasons, which Body of Proof has not had.

    but even GA considers it’s 9 episode S1 and Scandal seven-episode S1 “seasons.”

    So?! I don’t see how that’s relevant. You’re talking about a show that’s in its 10th season and has been in syndication for ages and a show that will, after this season, need two more seasons for syndication because the first season was so short.

  • Steve

    Suburgatory should get renewed by ABC so it gets to syndication.
    I really like Back In The Game and hope ABC renews it!!!!!!!!!!

  • feinn

    The difference between Reign and Tommorow people is retention .TTP got a .9 for Premiere out of .9 of Arrow , 100 percent retention. Reign only scored .8 out of 1.2 from TVD. Big difference

  • Theoacme

    I like Tom’s approach to the Bubble Watch – I think bubbles are more likely with more data points, and remember, this is prediction as to what will happen at the end of the season, so it is entirely valid not to have many bubbles yet.

    I would have worked in the theme of “crisis” – the Chinese characters for crisis read “danger” and “opportunity”, and all four majors do have both this season. (Surprisingly, the CW’s results leave it safe from crisis, at least at this moment, a refreshing change.)

    I won’t go into all four networks right now, as I have one specific comment to make, based on a show that I do watch very regularly.

    I see two overarching ideas for moving Grey’s Anatomy somewhere other than Thursday 9 ET – Thursdays at 8 ET, or Sundays at 9 ET. Often, the leitmotif of this suggestion would be to place Revenge under the protection of a Scandal lead-in.

    Looking at the Renew/Cancel Index, are you out of your freaking minds, people? Grey’s is the #3 drama on the network, with a 1.41 Index. And it could move to #2 at the end of the season, as SHIELD is not yet stable, and might fall to the Seattle Grace ER (it will get renewed, no sign of danger of that, but it may not be #2 drama at the end of the season.

    There is no sense moving Grey’s to Sunday – that, given ABC’s dramas there, is a death wish, and Grey’s performance does not warrant that (especially as ABC owns Grey’s already).

    Unfortunately, there is one problem with the most best choice for Sunday’s – moving Dancing to Sundays. Two of the judges – Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli – are judges on Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC version of the show, and that airs in England on Saturday nights. Therefore logistically, unless they replace both Len and Bruno on one of the two, there is no way they can move Dancing to Sundays.

    Moving Grey’s to the Thursday death slot makes even less sense. It would make more sense to air Shark Tank there, it’s cheaper, and actually gets decent ratings. Mix in an occasional Super Wipeout, and ABC will do okay there, at least financially.

    Revenge is on season three now – if it were on season two, moving Grey’s to help Revenge might make sense. But I don’t recall a season three show in very recent ratings history (within the past eight years) making a significant move upward, so why should ABC use resources to help a show that won’t likely be significantly helped more than Grey’s would be hurt?

    Oh, Super Fun Night – ain’t. Back in the Game – isn’t. Modern Family – the last show I could not eat or drink during viewing because the jokes would sometimes make me laugh so hard, I choked, was The Golden Girls – and Modern Family is even more dangerous than Saint Olaf :)

  • omabin


    I actually agree with that a lot: ABC should move Suburgatory to 9pm if it is going to launch it on Tuesdays. This being said, I think the show’s best fit schedule wise was the 8h30pm Wednesdays, it should have never left that slot It was by far the year in which ABC’s comedy bock was flowing the best and I think Suburgatory really did a good job in there, as the only show to ever build on the middle. Their comedy situation is so confusing at this point that I don’t even know what to say in terms of “what they should do”

  • John A

    Does Vampire Diaries have a syndication deal yet?

  • susan harrell

    I want to say I saw revolution and elementary and the mentalist my be on the chopping block and Ironside my issue is I have other programs that come on at the exact same time! And my DVR doesn’t catch them all I love all these shows and can only record two at a time and have to watch one of them while doing so I’m not sure how you all come up with the numbers but I’m mad I’m going to have to find another show now we get involved in these characters then u pull them. Its crazy and I’m not a happy viewer

  • Brandy

    @DenverDean, it shows with three FULL seasons, Body of Roof had 3 seasons of 13 episodes.Also, yes there have been a few shows with less than 88 episodes syndicated ,it’s very rare. As to the serial vs procedural type showin syndicatin, Scandal is serialized but has a deal withBET who also marathoned the first two season,DH was serialized but it ws syndicated same BH90210,OTH,The OC.Greys is both procedural & searilized IMO and Nikita is both searilized & procedural.CMT bought andaied Ina marathon the first nine episodes of Nashville which is serialized and WGNAMERICA aired season four of VampireDiaries and season one ofArrowboth of which are searlized( though Arrow has a procedural element too).Sojust causes show is searlized dosent mean it can’t ow won’t be syndicated.

  • beth

    The new ABC comedies are a mystery to me. You’d think TW would certainly be the one to get axed to make room for Suburgatory, but it does have critical support that SFN lacks and some buzz that BiTG is sorely missing, so I don’t know. Also weird that Goldbergs and TW have gotten additional script orders, but SFN and BiTG have not. The only one I am confidently predicting to get a back-nine is Goldbergs, despite the big ratings slips recently, because ABC seems to have a lot of faith in it. It would probably do nicely if they moved it to Wednesdays.

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