Bubble Watch: A Look At NBC - Five Seasons and a Cancellation for 'Community'?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

January 4th, 2014

Community -- Season 5

As we start off the new year and the networks slowly bring their schedules back online, I am continuing my network-by-network review. Next up, NBC, which brought back a show frequently mentioned around here…

Five Seasons and A Cancellation?

As a Milwaukeean, I have a soft spot in my heart for Community, as creator and once-and-future-showrunner Dan Harmon grew up here. (Danny Pudi also went to college at Marquette.) So it pains me to admit that the numbers for the season premiere were a mixed bag.

One on hand, both half hours rated higher than any of the NBC comedies have in months.

On the other hand, Community usually rates well after returning from a hiatus, then sinks to the average. Thursday’s numbers were barely above Parks and Rec‘s average to start with. In addition, it did nothing for the rest of the comedy block, as The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves The World both recorded series lows.

I think Community’s fate depends on NBC’s scheduling next season. If NBC airs four comedies on Thursdays, then it makes a far more attractive spackle option than any of the freshmen comedies so far. If NBC drops to two comedies on Thursdays, or one of the midseason comedies catches on, then its run is probably over. At this point I think NBC likely drops down to two comedies until they get a hit (we’ll get some hints once we see how many comedy pilots NBC shoots), so I’ve put it in “Cancellation Predicted” for now.

Burn After Airing

ABC will likely soon disavow all knowledge of The Assets, as it recorded the worst in-season drama premiere rating on the Big 4 ever. While the mini-series was probably never intended to be a hit, and simply thrown under The Olympics for February sweeps, ratings this poor will probably lead to it being replaced by Scandal reruns before long.

The NBC Fall Summary

Chicago Fire

Pro: Ratings well above the network average.

Con: Frankly hasn’t seen much long-term growth paired with The Voice.

Odds of renewal: 99%


Pro: The NBC average has dropped enough that Revolution isn’t doing much worse than it. If NBC has no spring drama successes, a renewal is probably better than rolling the dice yet again.

Con: The show is still below average. As a second year show, the renewal would essentially be for 46 episodes, which is a big bet for a show doing this mediocrely this early on. NBC can create two drama “successes” a year from whatever airs after The Voice – will NBC have room for this in the 15/16 season?

Odds of renewal: 41%

Law & Order: SVU

Pro: Ratings above the network average. Most of the long-term cast has been let go to make way for cheaper, newer cast members. Syndication money.

Con: Extremely old. If Chicago Fire and PD both catch on, NBC might consider Dick Wolf covered.

Odds of renewal: 85%


Pro: With syndication money, good spackle option.

Con: Not a hit. Not well loved by the network. NBC may have less comedy hours next season.

Odds of renewal: 40%

Parks and Recreation

Pro: Better ratings than the other Fall comedies. Syndication money. As a solely Universal production, the best spackle option on the table. Losing some (of the most expensive) cast members.

Con: Not a hit. If NBC drops to two comedies on Thursdays, NBC might just roll the dice with four new comedy orders.

Odds of renewal: 90%

The Michael J. Fox Show

Pro: The Michael J. Fox name.

Con: NBC’s biggest disappointment of the year.

Odds of renewal: 1%

Sean Saves the World

Con: The ratings are terrible. Given a partial backorder.

Odds of renewal: 0%


Pro: The most critically acclaimed drama on the network. Syndication money.

Con: The ratings are below average. Already over 88 episodes. Probably loses a head-to-head fight with Revolution for renewal. Large cast.

Odds of renewal: 30%


Pro: Needs a fourth season for syndication.

Odds of renewal: 100%


Pro: The ratings aren’t terrible for NBC, for Friday, for 10pm. The international co-production could be cheap enough for NBC to air again.

Con: The ratings are still pretty bad. Rumored production problems. It seems like NBC has more international co-productions than they have room to air them.

Odds of renewal: 25%

The Blacklist

Already renewed.

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


Show Network Status
Back In The Game ABC Canceled
Lucky 7 ABC Canceled
How I Met Your Mother CBS Final Season
We Are Men CBS Canceled
Nikita CW Final Season Finished
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
Beauty & The Beast CW Cancellation Predicted
The Carrie Diaries CW Cancellation Predicted
The Tomorrow People CW Cancellation Predicted
Almost Human Fox Cancellation Predicted
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
Raising Hope Fox Cancellation Predicted
Community NBC Cancellation Predicted
Dracula NBC 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
The Crazy Ones CBS On The Bubble
Mom CBS 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
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
CSI CBS Renewal Predicted
Elementary CBS Renewal Predicted
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewal Predicted
Mike & Molly 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
Reign CW Renewal Predicted
Supernatural CW Renewal Predicted
The Vampire Diaries CW Renewal Predicted
Bones Fox Renewal Predicted
Family Guy Fox Renewal Predicted
The New Girl Fox Renewal Predicted
Chicago Fire NBC Renewal Predicted
Grimm 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
The Blacklist NBC Renewed


  • Bradley

    I agree with everything but your view on Parenthood. I think it will be back. It grows .5 a ratings point from its lead in. And it’s the only drama they get any recognition for.

  • Kate

    Isn’t that ABC insert about The Assets and Scandal out of place in a weekly review on NBC? Merely referencing the Olympics doesn’t make that paragraph relevant to NBC’s lineup.

  • Alex C

    People need to stop jumping to cancellation conclusions about “Community” Too early for that.

  • Spudda

    you give Community a 40% chance or renewal? Thats about 35 points higher than I give it

  • JakeWisconsin

    I don’t think NBC can afford to cancel that much. I think Revolution and Parenthood come back and maybe Community come back, too.

  • Theoacme

    @Kate – This is not just NBC – Tom has elected to review network-by-network mid season, but The Assets is breaking immediate news, and entirely relevant to Bubble Watch, and he did so before the NBC show-by-show rundown.

    Tom – Given that its ratings are well above the network average, why would it matter that Chicago Fire did not have long term growth out of The Voice, as you stated, considering NBC’s other problems? I would say 100% renewal for Chicago Fire, especially if your cons about SVU turn out to be prescient.

  • freakinalex

    As much as I love Community, I knew at the end of last season that, if it got a 5th, that would likely be the last. NBC really screwed themselves by firing Dan Harmon for season 4, and many of the fans jumped ship because the first half of the season was pretty iffy. Now Chevy Chase is gone and Donald Glover is leaving halfway through this season.

    Granted, both of this week’s episodes were better than the entire fourth season, but that means nothing if no one’s watching. I can see some of the fans who were on the fence watching the new ones on Hulu and then maybe getting back into it enough to tune in and bring the ratings up a bit, but I kinda doubt it.

  • David F

    If Community’s ratings stay above a 1.0 I think NBC will keep it around. It’s still above all of NBC’s new comedies, and they will likely order another 13 episodes just in case next seasons new comedies tank too.

    Also, with Chevy Chase and Donald Glover gone, wouldn’t season 6 would be a lot cheaper to make than previous seasons?

    Honestly, as long as we get a finale that can serve as a series finale (unlike season 4) I can live with season 5 being the last season. Heck, I’m grateful we made it to season 5!

  • Pepper

    I think Community is at 50/50 right now. With pretty much everything else so poorly rated, I think the show will make one final spackle renewal, unless NBC drastically cuts its comedy hours.

  • Theoacme

    @JakeWisconsin: Look at the pilot season for more clues – but I could see NBC cancelling both Revolution AND Parenthood, and SVU as well.

    I would rank their chances of renewal as follows:

    SVU – 66%
    Revolution and Parenthood – 33%

    As for Community – too soon to tell – more ratings waypoints needed, and what is the state of NBC’s pilot season for comedies – Tom’s comments on 2 or 4 comedies on Thursday is the big mystery for the Peacock in 2014. I would not give a firm guess yet, not sufficient data. But if the ratings do fall to 0.9 or so, I would say 20%.

  • Ultima

    I don’t think NBC can afford to cancel that much.

    NBC only needs nine hours of scripted shows for the fall (three hours of The Voice plus three hours of The Biggest Loser and/or Dateline) and The Blacklist, Grimm and Chicago Fire will certainly be renewed.

    That leaves six hours of fill. If they devote four hours to new shows and have one midseason drama hit, then they really only need to renew one more veteran drama (out of Parenthood, L&O SVU and Revolution) and could cancel all of their comedies (unless one of the new ones hits obviously).

  • TV Addict


  • Fake Me Out

    I neither root for the success nor failure of Community and if it lives or dies is meaningless to me … that being said …

    How on earth can NBC expect to pull itself up if it’s going to renew shows that debut in the low 1.x range and, likely, drop to or below 0.9 before the end of the season? Community has enough in the can for syndication, cutting stars to save probably doesn’t save enough plus it also likely means further ratings weakness as those stars fans drift away when the stars leave.

    IMHO NBC would be better off taking that money and putting it towards 4 new comedies with 6 episodes each to see if something hits … expand the hit(s) if any and let the others expire after 6 eps. … rinse, repeat until you have a good base of 4 shows to try to rebuild Thursdays’ comedy block.


  • The 47th

    I’m still shocked at how few shows are on the bubble this year.

    Hopefully NBC executives take more factors into account when they decide on Parenthood’s fate. It has improved its timeslot numbers VS previous years and each time it grows more from its lead in. So maybe they can use that loyal viewership for spring 2015, replacing one of the failures.

  • Samunto

    Community is a toss-up. I say 50%. Let’s see how the ratings do in the coming weeks.

    Completely disagree about Revolution. Show has been very steady in it’s slot though basically buzzless. This is coming back- probably also as a truncated 13ep series.
    Also depends on how Crisis, Believe and Chicago PD will.

  • Samunto

    Oh, and The Blacklist not Parenthood is the most acclaimed NBC drama.

  • alvar

    NBC should scrap the Thursday comedy block entirely and just launch two new comedies behind The Voice on Tuesdays until something catches on. And Parenthood does pretty well to rise above a poor lead in.

    As for Thursdays, freshman hit The Blacklist would be the perfect solution. Person of Interest is gone, the CBS comedies aren’t catching on and Grey’s Anatomy is getting old. The Blacklist would hold the same appeal to viewers who tuned into former Thursday powerhouses like Person of Interest or CSI. I could easily see The Blacklist building its audience in an earlier timeslot coming out of the Winter Olympics. And that would open up Mondays to launch a new drama behind The Voice.

  • DenverDean

    Re: REV “the renewal would essentially be for 46 episodes….” NOT TRUE. As we’ve seen with Nikita (73), Flashpoint (75), The Unit (69), Leverage (75), the four full season order (88), is no longer the “guarantee” mark. As you’ve stated in the Renew/Cancellation Index, the Bear does not speculate on episode numbers. I could see REV getting a full third season and, possibly, a half season (if the 3rd season ratings stink) to get the numbers close to 75. However, the serial nature of REV, like the other REV(enge), will cap its value on the syndication market.

  • DenverDean

    Darn it, sorry for the consecutive posts.

    SVU is safe as long as Mariska wants to be a part of the show. They dropped three original actors during past two+ seasons, so budget has to be manageable, the repeats still do very well, so I’m certain USA would take additional inventory. I just don’t see it being cancelled outright. If on the off-chance the other dramas become hits, I could see a 16-episode “final” season (and used to replace a fall failure).

  • PRW

    NBC already has 3 comedies ordered to series.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures