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


  • Tony

    Posted October 20, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Hate to be blunt but Meghann hasn’t missed any point. They are absolutely correct. Having a large DVR audience means nothing, plenty of shows have been cancelled with a large DVR following. I suggest not being so dismissive with opinions you don’t agree with.

    Try reading my post again before you post such opinions yourself. I was simply saying that hopefully CBS will see that THERE is an audience for Elementary. They just need to find a way to get live viewers vs dvr. Nowhere in my post did I say Elementary won’t be canceled. Maybe I should have made my post simpler for those who can’t comprehend easily.

  • KC

    You have to give The Good Wife and The Mentalist the benefit of the doubt, for now. I think a lot of the viewing of those shows are coming from DVR. Lets wait until after December (end of Sunday night football) to make decisions about them.

  • TV Viewer

    I, and many other posters, felt that Hawaii Five-O was more of a “bubble watch” show than a “cancellation predicted” (as first listed when the list was put out in September) program. It is doing okay for a Friday night show and CBS has been having way too many problems this season.

  • Reprise

    @Meghann you’re missing the point
    @Try reading my post again before you post such opinions yourself
    @Maybe I should have made my post simpler for those who can’t comprehend easily.

    I’m sorry but your statement to me is laughable. Not only did you not understand the point I was trying to make here, you also did not understand that you answered Meghann with irrelevance and were utterly wrong in what you said, and continue to say too.

    There’s no point being rude when there’s no need to be. You clearly don’t like being wrong and I’ll leave at that.

    I could read your post a thousand times and it wouldn’t change the fact you are incorrect in your assumptions and are grasping at straws.

  • James S

    The problem with the Michael J Fox show is not Michael J Fox, it’s the rest of the cast. To be fair, the criticism prior to broadcast was how would Michael be able to lead a show since he was always playing off another character but he’s done quite well. I mean he illness tells but he’s been pretty good and rather funny at times. The problem is most of the remaining cast are rubbish. The writing is too scripted, so seems like we’ve seen it all before and the other characters lack personality, they are far too rigid. The woman playing the wife and the one playing the daughter are ok but the others are all pointless!

  • Ultima

    Lets wait until after December (end of Sunday night football) to make decisions about them.

    You could say that about every show that’s not a lock for renewal or cancellation. Spring ratings matter, not fall ratings. Yet here we are, day after day, week after week, trying to guess what will happen. The Good Wife and The Mentalist don’t get some magical exemption because they don’t air on time and go head-to-head with Sunday Night Football.

    Last year, both shows’ spring ratings were ~10% below their fall ratings (which is on par with the drop for TGW the previous season). Subsequently, I wouldn’t expect any more than a 1.3 average for The Good Wife and a 1.2 average for The Mentalist for March/April/May.

  • Colin

    The thing that amazes me most about abc’s scheduling is why they are wasting the slot after modern family with sfn, that show was going to live or die on the lead anyway, whereas either of the Tuesday comedies would have seemed like a far better fit especially trophy wife with its own unconventional extended family group dynamic.

  • Meghann Z.

    People said the same thing about The Good Wife, and look at what happened to that: a double syndication deal with Amazon and Hallmark Channel.

    Point #1: The split syndication deal for TGW took two years to negotiate because CBS couldn’t get their asking price for it from a single syndicator. They settled for less than they wanted.

    Point #2: TGW had lots of media and Emmy attention in its prime. It also had better ratings. In its second season, TGW only went below a 2.0 once, to a 1.9, and that was in spring. At this time last year, TGW – despite airing on Sundays – had done a 1.8, 1.7, 1.7, 1.9 so far into the season. TGW didn’t even hit Elementary’s current low of 1.5 until January, and again that’s on a SUNDAY.

    point #3: Elementary’s DVR ratings have been flat for some time. It doesn’t gain new viewers via DVR, the same people have been DVRing it and now the live viewers it did had are switching to DVR. Bad sign. Even if you believe DVR has any impact (it doesn’t) Elementary’s DVR numbers in the demo are about the same as Vegas’ DVR numbers in the demo this time last year, and tell me what good that did Vegas.

  • Reprise

    @Meghann Z

    Well said. It’s a shame that some people can’t see that, and continue to ramble on about DVR viewership actually meaning something significant. Had a chuckle at some saying that the show is faltering because it doesn’t have Person of Interest as a lead in(A genuinely funny excuse that). Though there’s no evidence either way to suggest the show had any kind of impact on the numbers which were dropping during Season 1 anyway.

    The 2 hour Season 1 finale pulling 8.98 million viewers, 2.0 18-49 said it all. It had a repeat of The Big Bang theory which had a viewership of 11.83 million 3.3 18-49. But still the finale numbers were weak. It was easy to see the collapse coming.

    Hitting 1.5 18-49 4 episodes in to a 24 episode Season 2 is VERY alarming.

  • James

    I’m more optimistic than you, Tom! I for sure think that at least 2 of Nashville, Reign, Revolution, Parenthood, and the Goldbergs will be renewed. Possibly 3.

  • Ultima

    Hitting 1.5 18-49 4 episodes in to a 24 episode Season 2 is VERY alarming.

    Only if it doesn’t bounce back from it. An occasional low rating (or high rating) is meaningless in the long run.

    It’s a shame that some people can’t see that, and continue to ramble on about DVR viewership actually meaning something significant.

    Elementary getting the best drama DVR ratings on CBS might be meaningful if CBS could reschedule it in a way that could potentially increase its live viewership, which is what the other commenter (Tony?) was referring to. Unfortunately for him, CBS has no where to move it to.

    Tuesday 10pm is probably not happening. Person of Interest needs episodes and if it stabilizes or starts growing on Tuesday (looks that way), then it’s going nowhere.

    Monday 10pm is an option, but not necessarily a good one for Elementary. If CBS decides to shuffle their comedies so that they have a good 9:30pm lead-in for a drama, then Intelligence will end up getting that timeslot. A move to Monday could mean a weaker lead-in and more competition (Blacklist & Castle vs Scandal & Parenthood) for Elementary.

    The best chance Elementary has at translating those DVR views into live views is ABC swapping Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy! ;)

  • Tony JJ

    Nashville will be renewed unless it falls closer to a 1.0, but ABC is having an awful year for new dramas besides AOS. Killer Woman looks DOA, Mind Games could surprise but looks very cable-ish and very niche like Lucky 7. Resurrection I think has the most potential, but the sunday 10pm timeslot will be an uphill battle.

    I think The Goldbergs is the only comedy guaranteed a full season. Trophy Wife I have a feeling will get a chance behind Modern Family, it is the only comedy owned by ABC besides the Neighbors, plus creatively the show is thriving and it fits very well with Modern Family. Back in the Game isn’t a bad show, but I think it is the weakest show quality wise between the 3 family comedies, something just doesn’t make me anticipate watching the show. Super Fun Night will probably get a back order undeservingly.

    Suburgatory will probably be placed behind Goldbergs and if I had to bet, I’d say Trophy Wife gets the slot behind the Middle and Mixology goes after Modern Family. ABC really has a terrible comedy situation, Trophy Wife should go after Modern Family, but Mixology SHOULD NOT go after The Middle or The Goldbergs. Very unpredictable of what ABC will do.

    The Mindy Project could sneak in a third season renewal unless Dads keeps rising.

    I think Two and a Half Men will end early this year and allow a midseason comedy to debut in it’s slot. and if they feel necessary or Chuck Lorre insists, it could come back as spackle next season, but the show I don’t think deserves it’s spot on the schedule next year, but will get it due to Chuck Lorre, the show has died long ago.

  • Tony JJ

    Elementary will go to Sundays get two more seasons for syndication and die there. Ratings are awful, the only thing that makes the ratings look good is that it has stiff competition from Scandal.

  • Paul P

    NBC next Season:
    Monday: The Voice
    Tuesday: The Voice
    Wednesday: The Voice
    Thursday: The Voice
    Friday: The Voice
    Saturday: The Black List/ SNL recap
    Sunday: Sunday Night Football

  • TVDude

    I think if Parenthood holds where it’s at, it’ll be renewed. I haven’t seen a show perform as well in that time period as this over the long term in several years. If NBC thinks something else will rate better there (over the long term), sure, they’ll cancel it, but history has proven that almost anything else will rate below a 1.0 after just a few episodes. Last year, this time period was so bad, NBC ran out of shows to toss there and had to repeat SVU.

    Revolution is still doing OK in the time period compared to the disaster that was the Wednesday comedies. The problem is that it’s a bit more expensive than the Wednesday comedies were. If it gets renewed, it’ll probably be for 13 episodes unless all the other new shows fail.

  • HeadlessHorseman (formerly JacobYates)

    Elementary is at Vegas levels. No way it sees a season 3 unless it can get above 1.8 for the rest of the season. Then it will be pushed to Sundays for 2 more seasons to reach syndication and be cancelled.

  • HeadlessHorseman (formerly JacobYates)

    If Nashville stabilizes it will probably be renewed for season 3, but I’m not certain ABC would leave it in its current time slot. It is usually a good spot to launch a new show, so I can see ABC moving it, just don’t know where.

  • HeadlessHorseman (formerly JacobYates)

    Mindy Project is dead. Being the lowest rated of the 4 Fox comedies with the New Girl lead in and far weaker competition than B99 and Dads, it’s definitely gone in May.

  • HeadlessHorseman (formerly JacobYates)

    Revolution falling below 1.5 is bad news. It needs to get back up above 1.5 and fast. Even on NBC, a 1.4 will only cut it on a Friday night, which I could see it being moved to next season, should it make it.

  • Jimmy TV

    I’ve got it on good authority that Goldbergs and Trophy Wife are getting a back nine and s2 order.
    not sure this prediction is correct.

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