Week 33 Sitcom Scorecard -- Speak Easy and Carry a Big Nielsen Stick!

Written in Code by Bridger Cunningham

It is a mere two weeks before the exciting Renewal reveal, with 12 shows earning their pass into the 2017-18 Nielsen Speak Easy.  Another 20 are eagerly looking for their password to get into the next seasons' Nielsen spirits, and now two are cancelled.  As announced last week, Matthew Perry ominously announced The Odd Couple was likely cancelled.  And now, Powerless joins the ranks with little surprise.  Debuting at a mediocre 1.1, the NBC Thursday entry lowered the Anemic range to abysmal levels, necessitating a new classification "The Abyss".  Only hours after the announcement, the final contender, Great News, entered the arena with a soft 1.2 and 1.0 delivery, respectively.  Given Trial and Error had the luxury of less Spring Doldrum exposure, the debut ratings are matched by grey area standards.  Deciding the show's percent odds for renewal will be announced in next week's entry, "Between Heaven and Hell", as four episodes will have aired.

Overall, Week 33 delivered a heartier helping of original entries with 18 helpings of original episodes vs. the paltry 11 from week 32.  CBS Mondays and (most of) ABC Tuesday took the week off after enduring weeks of bullying from mother nature's Spring Doldrums, leaving ABC Wednesdays and CBS Thursdays to take the court and fight off ratings erosion.  Final ranks have been declared for 8 shows, leaving the following final ranks for this season's network sitcoms -- Big Bang Theory (1st, duh!), Modern Family (2nd), Mom (11th), The Good Place (12th), Last Man Standing (20th), Dr. Ken (32nd), Powerless (33rd) and Making History (34th/Last).  The Big Bang Theory dodged a bullet and narrowly registered a series low, dropping to 3.15 and now less than one point away from 2nd Place Modern Family.   MF wisely avoided this low-rated week, and The Goldbergs delivered a devastating season low 1.4, dropping its average to 1.77.  Goldbergs overtaking Simpsons for 3rd Place is becoming less probable.  

Speechless still remains in a competitive position to challenge absent Kevin Can Wait for 5th place, albeit it took a hit and dropped to a 1.61 demo average.  blackish took a beating, thanks to two weak deliveries and lost its hold on 7th place, now tied with absent Middle.  The Great Indoors also took a beating and dropped to 10th place behind absent American Housewife.  Mom retains the delta in its final season rank of the 11th place sitcom as it delivered a stable 1.3 and is poised to finish the season above a 1.40.  Further down in the Middle of the Pack, Life in Pieces dropped again.  Mistakes happen, as Man with a Plan was one tick higher.  Now, LIP and MWAP are tied for 16th and will continue to jockey over the next two weeks for 16th.  Superstore experienced another setback, dropping below Last Man standing with a 1.15 average. The Mick ticked up this week, salvaging a 1.14 average.  It airs its season finale on 5/2 and will finish the season with a 1.12 or 1.13 average.  Just call it "Delta" (this week that is)!  Great News debuted at the bottom standard of the Middle of the Pack and will likely proceed into anemic territory.  

The Anemic Range featured more shuffles, as Odd Couple defacto resumed the Anemic range's watershed position.  Bob's Burgers now teeters on a 1.00 average in 25th place, and Imaginary Mary inched downward to a 0.96 in 26th place.  Brooklyn 99 is frozen at its series low which slid to 0.95 in 27th, and Last Man On Earth now rests in a four-way tie for 28th Place with concluded trio New Girl, Real O'Neal's and Trial and Error.  And the bottom three ranks have been cast for these abysmal shows.  For the 20 remaining shows, they must gain entry into the 2017-18 Nielsen watering hole.  Let's examine their code words needed to get past the network's guarded doors:

Modern Family -- Plans for a 9th seasonal entry are welcome with a 90% chance of being welcome.  MF is finishing the season as the 2nd highest sitcom, but is now "ordinary".  It needs to become accustomed to a modest lifestyle, as it no longer barrels in 6.1 Nielsen Demos.  MF's password, should they humble their lips: MODERATION.

Goldberg's -- Beverly Goldberg's brassy and larger than life persona is a welcome and noticeable presence, as she will surely belt out some memorable tunes on the speak easy piano.  Goldberg's is 100% welcome, as they can read the music of Wednesday ratings.  Their password: OBNOXIOUS.  They could have already joined the remaining 12 renewed shows in the bar, but Beverly is too busy arguing her codeword is insulting to her Shrimp Parmesan recipe for laughs.

Speechless -- Noticing the ruckus Beverly Goldberg made, Mia DiMeo is grateful to realize she isn't the only crazy mother on the block and laid low on the radar.  She realizes she too has 100% chances of breaking down the door with JJ's wheelchair, but she has him deliver her word of acceptance -- LESS IS MORE.  Fitting, as this show silently explores issues without the preachy tone of who follows....

blackish -- A 100% welcome guest as well, blackish has wowed ABC with its sturdy Nielsens and boldness in verbally tackling social issues.  After Dre gets done arguing some nuanced point, he inadvertently drops his code word -- ACCLAIM.  He continues to argue, but the doorman shoves him into the club with an ABC stamp of renewal.

American Housewife -- Next in line is never-so-dull Katie Otto.  She trades barbs, passive aggressively insulting the doorman whilst figuring out how she will crack this door open.  She's tackled the mean girls on her block and diffused the PTA.  When asked what does her show offer her network it never had on Tuesdays, she belts out STABILITY!  The doorman smiles, knowing she was always a 100% welcome guests and too stamps her hand with an ABC approval.

The Great Indoors -- Joel McHale's Jack Gordon is increasingly aware he is not as welcome as the last five passes through the door. He argues his show is CBS' third highest sitcom, but that doesn't charm.  The doorman makes him realize TGI was "the average date" powerhouse TBBT courted last season, mainly because of the name.  After exhausting every excuse as to why TGI belongs in the 2017-18 Nielsen Speak Easy, the doorman laughs, telling him his code word shall be 2AM.  As in come back later, if no other options are available and space is available.  Joel McHale shamefully skulks to the back of the line with a 20% chance of entering the establishment...

Family Guy -- A welcome guest 15 times over, the Seth McFarlane Sunday staple is insulted they have to wait in line with the regulars.  However, he humors the doorman, cracking jokes about his competitors' weak contributions in Nielsen spirits.  The doorman laughs, joking that he uttered his key word LACK OF OPTIONS mid-sentence.  "C'mon in, we've been waiting for you!"

2 Broke Girls -- Seeing an abundance of other CBS guests inside the Network Speak Easy, Max Black decides to insult the doorman, mocking the institution and its seating practices.  She mocks how 2BG's had their seat changed 11 times in the last 6 years, as well as network scheduling.  The doorman insults her back, telling her that her show is aged and outsourced.  Should CBS have an available seat, her password shall be YEAST.  As in her show will be treated as the fluff of the network schedule with a 45% renewal rate..

Son of Zorn -- FOX football touted ZORN like one of their cheerleaders, a hot commodity in the fall.  But what does a cheerleader do for the rest of the year when Football goes to sleep, especially when football-inflated Nielsens leave spring stretchmarks and crow's feet?  Zorn realizes their value diminished as they are no longer the young show, and will need to get to know the phrase FILLER to plump up those sagging ratings.  Zorn will be filler if space is available at 45% odds of entry.

Fresh Off The Boat -- Given three guests have been ridiculed for their poor ratings, FOTB is insecure.  However, they have a quiet presence needed among a lineup of blowhards.  The doorman asks Jessica to think about a sitcom in the 80's which had a nice shelf life and no one cared about.  "Mr. Belvedere?"  "Try again." laughs the doorman.  "They tried to cancel that one three times on the air, but you have the right network."  "WEBSTER!?"  "Yes!"  The doorman tells Jessica "Just like your show, /webster was ABC's show that no one cared about."  Jessica is delighted to be deemed 100% welcome, and insulted at the doorman's comparison."

Last Man Standing -- A revered figure in the network TV club, Tim Allen knows he is 90% welcome.  Enriching the Friday banquet table, he is almost certain to enter.  After mincing jokes and wit, Tim Allen drops his password mid-conversation -- CONTRACT.  The doorman tells him a seat is waiting, but he needs to bring this back to drink the spirits.

Imaginary Mary -- A new lamb on the block, Jenna Elfman is modest and tells the doorman she may not gain entry due to her animated friend's expense.  However, the doorman tells her to wait patiently for space, as it is rumored ABC is adding two more seats, even with its 45% chance for entry.  Mary's code word for entry -- IMPROVEMENT.  As in it matched and improved its predecessor.

Brooklyn 99 -- FOX's Emmy-winning sitcom has a syndication deal in hand, yet its Nielsen contributions are abysmal.  However, the doorman recognizes this show is welcome as it doesn't drink the top-shelf spirits of Sunday inflation and contributes more than several of its competitors.  It has a 70% chance of entering if it gets to know the phrase CODE BLUE.

New Girl -- A six-time entry, New Girl's ratings woes are the talk of the town.  Jess knows her value has diminished, but the doorman hints her presence is 70% welcome like B99.  When asked what will get her into the bar, she announces SOPHISTICATION.  The doorman nods and wait-lists her with B99 for the final club entry announcements.

The Real O'Neal's --  Touting unwarranted hubris, Noah Galvin thinks he is the star of ABC.  "Not so fast, sassy." quips the doorman.  "But I'm young, beautiful and an A-lister." snidely comments Galvin's Kenny.  "True to the first two, but the last may not happen." Insults the doorman "But my show has a landmark gay character."  "So do several other shows who are funnier." Knocks the doorman.  "But I have an overbearing crazy mother on my show."  whines Kenny.  "So do several other ABC sitcoms who always managed to break the 1.0 mark regularly." rebuts the doorman.  "But how do I get in!?"  "What would the network need to fit a poorly-rated show like yours in its roster?" questions the doorman.  "EXPANSION?" questions Kenny.  "Yes!" exclaim the doorman.  "Now go wait with that Joel McHale guy at the back of the line, as you need to wait for space to enter."

Last Man on Earth -- The line grows shorter, but LMOE has 70% chances of entering the network watering hole.  It weathered nasty Spring ratings with high retention and needs to figure out how to gain access.  It's codeword -- 9:30!

Dr. Ken -- ABC's lowest rated sitcom appears to be the loser in the pack, resting in the delta of the Anemic range for most of its run.  However, its contributing factor is enhancing LMS' performance, as well as stabilizing ABC's worst timeslot.  When asked what will get him into the Speak Easy, Dr. Ken answers SYNDICATION.  Ding ding ding!

And finally, Great News -- It cannot be determined what code word will save it yet.  Better hope Tina Fey has a following like her Sarah Palin impression.

So who will enter the network's watering hole next season?  Tune in on Friday, May 12 to learn of several show's fates.  And drop by next week for a comprehensive look at shows ranked 20-70% have to defend their renewals.

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