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


  • Bright

    @Tom, you have absolutely no mercy. Lol. love it. I’m very curious to see how accurate your predictions turn out in May.

  • Raykov

    I think some of you are bashing waay too much season 4 of Community. It was a decent season – we had the Huger Deans, Muppet episode, Origins episode… and the finale was the best finale they’ve done so far – it had paintball, the dark side and 2 characters graduating. The only thing I didn’t like was the Changnesia, but they had to find a place for Chang and it was better than him being a student in season 2… So far season 5 sucks – it’s like that last season of Scrubs everyone pretends it never happenned (ironically mentioned in the premiere)… On the renewal side – it still has a shot of being renewed – they still wouldn’t have hit the 100 episode mark after this season and NBC could just use it as a spakle OR Comedy Central may decide to launch all-new episodes next season, but I don’t see the #sixseasonsandamovie not happening

  • PRW

    How I would schedule NBC for 2014-2015

    **All fall orders are for 10 episodes and all Spring and Summer orders are for 13 episodes unless otherwise noted**


    F: Football Night in America, Sunday Night Football
    Sp: SPORTS NIGHT IN AMERICA, The Apprentice


    F: The Voice*
    Sp: America’s Got Talent*
    Su: Biggest Loser, Last Comic Standing

    * 3 hours, voting goes on until Sunday evening as to cash in on DVR and reairs through the week on other NBCU channels


    F: Community (10 episodes + 2 hour series finale movie), WELCOME TO SWEDEN, Parenthood, EMERALD CITY
    Sp: Parks & Rec, TOOKEN, Psych (Moved from USA, final season), MURDER SHE WROTE


    F: CONSTANTINE, The Blacklist (22 episodes), SVU (22 episode final season)
    Sp: Crossbones, The Blacklist (22 episodes), SVU (22 episode final season)


    F: Grimm, Dracula, Chicago Fire
    Sp: Revolution, Hannibal, Chicago PD


    Sp: BAD JUDGE, BITCH OFF THE OL’ BLOCK, Hollywood Game Night, Dateline NBC
    Su: MAYBE IT’S ME, THE BASS PLAYER, The Million Second Quiz, Dateline NBC


    Sports and NBCU encores (mainly from NBC, Syfy, and USA)

  • JJF

    I’m wondering if any mideseason comedy will survive on NBC. The bar is low so even if it only pulls mediocre numbers, it could still snag a renewal.

  • Dan S

    Both Community and P&R are in the same boat. Both shows have enough episodes for syndication & are drawing similar low numbers in the 18-49 demo. I think if 1 show goes so will the other. My guess is NBC will cutback on comedies next season & will see shows like Maya Rudolph variety show replacing them. Revolution is the wild card here but unless it’s numbers improve I’m afraid that show is done. NBC’s fortunes are on the upswing & will look at cutting any deadwood holding them back

  • jupiter2765

    you should do the same for abc scripted shows and look at their odds for renewal next sunday

  • reidjr


    What series?

  • CrimTV

    I hope that About a Boy is a hit and not another ‘Go On’.

  • PRW


    Tookin (Tina Fay pilot), Welcome To Sweden, and Working The Engels

  • David

    I think the likelihood NBC tries Maya Rudolph’s variety series next fall is quite high considering their current comedy fortunes and the buzz it’s getting (as evident by the commenters on here). They also have Tooken, Working the Engels and Welcome To Sweden, along with several other comedy series in development. So it’s hard to get a clear read on what they’ll do with comedies next season, but I’m certainly in agreement that if only one show gets a spackle renewal, it’s Parks and Recreation. It’s a Universal TV show and Community comes from Sony, which I understand will do almost anything to get a renewal (Happy Endings), however it’s just seems more likely that Parks will be renewed. However, I do see a scenario where Community and Parks could both be renewed, or both be cancelled. As for NBC’s dramas, Law and Order: SVU will be renewed over Revolution and Parenthood, without a doubt.

  • Michael1

    I like “Community”, but I wonder if network TV is the best place for it. It has many great standalone episodes, but it seems afraid to really go anywhere, and when they try to it doesn’t seem to work. I guess the premise of the show kind of painted itself into a corner, because college is about change. I wonder if the best thing to do would be to somehow pair it with the new “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” by either selling “Community” to the CW or having the CW sell WLIIA to NBC. I’d love to see new episodes, any way I can get them.

  • Kissan

    This is what NBC should do for 2014/2015:


    8:00-The Voice(fall)/Biggest Loser(winter)/The Voice(spring)
    10:00-The Odyssey(new series)


    8:00-About A Boy
    8:30-Marry Me(new series)
    9:00-The Voice(fall)/Space Race(new series,winter)/The Voice(spring)
    10:00-Chicago Fire


    8:00-Night Shift(fall)/Murder She Wrote Reboot(spring)
    10:00-Chicago PD


    8:00-Maya Rudolph Variety Show(new series)
    8:30-Tooken(new series)
    9:00-The Blacklist
    10:00-Tin Man(new series)


    8:00-Community(13 episode final season,fall)/The Wolfman(spring)
    8:30-Parks & Rec(13 episode final season,fall)/The Wolfman(spring)

    I think Believe, Crisis, Growing Up Fisher, SSTW, MJF Show and Dracula will all get cancelled in May. If Night Shift does good, Revolution get cancelled. If Night Shift does bad, Revolution get renewed but only for 13 episode third season. Parenthood renewed for 15 episode final season for Sundays midseason 2015.

    Anybody got any thoughts?

  • Kissan

    NBC should promote About A Boy, Growing Up Fisher, Night Shift, Hannibal, Believe, Crisis, Revolution and Chicago PD HARD during the Olympics.

  • CrimTV


    NBC should promote About A Boy, Growing Up Fisher, Night Shift, Hannibal, Believe, Crisis, Revolution and Chicago PD HARD during the Olympics.

    I would expect that they are already planning to

  • Shepherd


    I love the title of the post! Yea for Mill Town! lol. Anokijig?

  • Brad


    “Nikita (73), Flashpoint (75), The Unit (69), Leverage (75″”

    You’re comparing a CW Show, a Canadian produced show that CBS picked up the rights to air, a show CBS canceled 5+ years ago, and a TNT show.

    Terrible, terrible examples.

  • Jerry

    This is yet another year to watch whether syndication saves shows from cancellation, especially with two dramas producing less than average ratings for their networks, which are Revenge and Hart of Dixie.

    What do I think? I think it will be a final season for both. I just don’t see Revenge churning out any more viable storylines and sustain viable ratings (and many predict, it should be a one-season show to begin with, given its premise). Right now I am really watching Revenge to see how it ends.

  • Theoacme

    @Denver Dean – and don’t forget, besides the fact that USA is a Comcast/NBCU property (internal bookkeeping helps SVU there), that SVU also airs Mondays on MyNetwork TV (the added inventory might be welcome to them as well)…

    …so as long as Mariska is on the show, and doesn’t demand a huge raise, SVU may break the original L&O record of twenty seasons, no movie required :)

  • Ray

    Why is The Goldbergs listed as “Cancellation predicted”. I think it should at least be “On the Bubble”. ABC is bound to renew one freshman comedy this season, and we already know Back in the Game, Super Fun Night, and Trophy Wife are pretty much out. The Goldbergs is at least stable & solid, and actually is compatible when sandwiched in between The Middle and Modern Family. I wish ABC scheduled the comedies like this:

    9:00 – Last Man Standing
    9:30 – Back in the Game

    8:00 – The Middle
    8:30 – The Goldbergs
    9:00 – Modern Family
    9:30 – Trophy Wife / Suburgatory

    8:00 – The Neighbors
    8:30 – Super Fun Night / Mixology

  • Tom Shaw

    @Kate: 1) I didn’t want to have a “This week’s premieres” section for just one show, 2) this formatting lets me keep the “Burn After” joke, and 3) I originally was planning on a longer bit on the difficulties period shows have in the demo, but I pulled it (I’ll probably bring it back when The Olympics take over).

    @Theoacme: There is no difference between Fire and Grimm’s chances, I just wanted different numbers to emphasize the syndication factor.

    @The 47th: Let’s be clear, just as many shows are on the bubble as usual. My view when I took over Bubble Watch was that no show ends the season on the bubble – they are either canceled or renewed. Therefore any week a show is listed on the bubble is wrong in the end. So I’ve intentionally gone out on a limb on as many shows as possible – almost all my long term bubble candidates are schedule and financial questions. E.g. You tell me if CBS keeps 8 comedy slots and I will move The Crazy Ones today; you tell me if Warner Bros’ accountants prefer to take more of a loss with guaranteed syndication money for 2.5 Men or less of a loss with dubious syndication chances for Mom and I will move those two.

    @Samunto: There’s a difference between critical acclaim and popular acclaim (and if you value your sanity, you won’t try to figure out what criteria the Hollywood Foreign Press Association uses for acclaim, though it seems to boil down to star power, pretty young acctresses, and history of doing dumb things while intoxicated).

    @DenverDean: There’s not enough evidence yet to suggest that 88+ still isn’t the financial sweet spot. Most of your examples have extenuating circumstances – Flashpoint was a Canadian show (they occasionally get sold into US syndication, like Da Vinci’s Inquest, but it is rare), Leverage was a cable show (they aren’t sold into cable syndication), and Nikita had historically bad numbers (what fourth season it got smells like the mathematically smallest loss they could come up with between domestic money lost and international sales penalties). The Unit, like Heroes, only aired half a season in 07/08 due to the WGA strike. It’s entirely possible CBS and Fox would have ordered a ~13 episode final season to get The Unit over 88 had there been no strike.

    The larger point is it is too early to declare “88 or bust” dead yet. It is one of the topics I will be covering later in the year, once we get renewal info on some of these shows.

    @PRW: I’m aware (yep, its another future topic), but, again, NBC could go with one hour, order four comedies (to have backups in case both Fall shows fail), and cancel all their current comedies. If NBC shoots 20 comedy pilots as well, then yes, their keeping 2+ comedy hours is a given.

    @jupiter2765: Yes, I’m finishing up with ABC next week.

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