Week 34 Sitcom Scorecard -- Between Heaven and Hell Rests 12 Comedies

 Written Dodging the Flames from Below by Bridger Cunningham

Friday the 12th is a mere week away with 20 shows’ fates still undecided.  12 were renewed, 2 Cancelled, and the remaining 20 have been divided appropriately leaning between Heaven and Hell.  Before delving into the rewards and punishment of this week’s entry, let’s discuss the situation at hand with May Sweeps.  Those following the Nielsen Demo figures hoped the pressure would lighten up on the Spring Doldrums leaving sitcom ratings tattered.  Sadly, new lows were reached or tied this week despite an impressive bounty of 26 original sitcoms offered this week.

The Big Bang Theory tied its series low with a 2.5, yet aided its syndication hand to its fellow neighbors.  Big Bang lite, aka a common rerun, scored the 3rd highest sitcom entry this week with a 1.6, aiding its fellow ailing sitcoms against Spring Doldrums.  Meanwhile, Modern Family registered series low 1.7.  Impressively, The Simpsons held in line with its February/early March post-Football deliveries with a 1.0.  It appears the ratings race for 3rd Place has been quashed, as 4th Place Goldbergs lost its footing on matching or overtaking Simpsons.  Both ranks have been called as final and the spoils enjoyed by both shows.  Kevin Can Wait made a mild rebound to a 1.2 rating this week, the same rating Speechless delivered a 2nd week in a row.  Their battle for 5th Place is ongoing as they are a mere 0.03 apart in spacing.

             The Middle received a stab from the devil’s Nielsen pitchfork, registering a similar series low 1.2.  However, so did blackish, and both rest in the throws of 7th Place in their ongoing jockeying.  American Housewife also donned that trendy 1.2 number, while The Great Indoors experienced a devastating blow with its first fractional delivery of 0.8.  The tie for 9th Place has been determined as 9th Place belongs to American Housewife, and The Great Indoors will take 10th.  Mom proved to be the greatest MVP this week, scoring the largest boost thanks to albatross TGI moving to Mondays and a TBBT rerun fueled the evening's remaining roster.

Down in the Middle of the Pack, Family Guy also picked up the 1.2 trend, preserving most of its season average.  Man With a Plan narrowly dodged a fractional delivery after final adjustments, and Life in Pieces bested MWAP thanks to TGI's move.  It currently holds 16th Place and may emerge the victor in that race.  Superior Donuts experienced the same fractional scare as MWAP, yet held the lead for 18th against Fresh Off the Boat.  Superstore registered a repeat series low and ended in 21st place with a 1.13.  As predicted, The Mick ends the season as the Delta position of The Middle of the Pace.  It went out with a 0.7 whimper despite blasting gunshots like its principle did in the titular season finale.  

The Anemic Range experienced more movement from its active shows.  Bob’s Burgers dropped below the 1.00 limbo line, and Brooklyn 99’s disheartening 0.6 delivery Tuesday left it in a 4-way 25th Place tie with the concluded trio who will be discussed below.  Imaginary Mary took a hit with a new low 0.7, dropping to a 0.92.  Last Man on Earth had a stable delivery like Simpsons and retained much of its season average, while Great News was sliced by the Nielsen machete, hemorrhaging a massive 0.20 in one week.  Due to Great News’ dismal drop to a 0.90 rating, Dr. Ken’s “Final Rank” status was removed as it appears Great News is descending downward.  And Making History was stable.  Sigh.

20 sitcoms are still up in the air for renewal/cancellation.  8 have a surefire probability for renewal – 7 contenders on ABC, and one on FOX.  CBS made a broom sweep renewal of 6 sitcoms, and NBC locked in their Thursday anchors, FOX renewed 3 sitcoms, and ABC chose the Middle for an early renewal.  12 Sitcoms rest in Purgatory’s clutches, ranging between 20%-70% chances of renewal.  None too surprising, all but one in this boat has delivered fractional ratings.  Divides have been drawn, as these shows rest Between Heaven and Hell during this crucial week and are fighting each other for survival.

As the fear-filled 12 sitcoms wonder what awaits them, they are divided up into four arenas and led away by their networks.  The first to be called before the ABC jury was by highest rating.  Sadly, that was The Real O’Neals.  They pleaded they had critical acclaim on their side and some interesting characters.  Next, Imaginary Mary is asked to step forward and defend renewal.  They pointed out the evident fact that IM was right in line with its predecessor it stands next to, and updated the family sitcom premise.  And finally, biting his nails, Dr. Ken is dragged forward and tell the jury why it deserves a third season.  Dr. Ken points out his show has lasted the longest behind Last Man Standing, with a slew of predecessors such as Malibu Country, the Neighbors and Cristela burning off within one season.

The three ABC shows are to take a seat, as the network judge issues the following statement:

                “You three are dispensable at best to ABC.  Eight other sitcoms perform better than you, and we need one or two spaces for new sitcoms to have a chance.  It is a The Real O’Neal’s made the cut last year, as 0.8 ratings were unacceptable that season.  But they were given a chance to grow in the fall, coupled with the fact that ABC needed more sitcoms on deck for the sitcom expansion.  Everyone else seemed to take to the changes except this show.  Chances of renewal are 20%, as the only way ABC will air this show again is if they need room for other sitcoms or want to air you in the Summer.”

                “The same can be said for Imaginary Mary.  While this is a cute sitcom, the animated portion is costly, and your performance matched the O’Neal’s.  This argument may either save or seal your fate, as you could be the next desired filler show.  Unfortunately, the odds reduced with that 0.7 rating this week, downgrading to 20%.”

                “And Dr. Ken’s ratings seem to be the biggest joke about the show.  It spent the majority of the season in last place, only rising as others fall.  It is punctured by an invasive laugh track and has a specific audience and humor.  However, there is some marketability with Dr. Ken.  It is halfway to the finish line for lucrative syndication deals.  And like the other two lost souls, Dr. Ken suffered a poor timeslot.  Regardless if ABC expands its sitcom floor, the odds are higher to make money from Dr. Ken.  Though its ratings are its biggest joke, it has a 70% chance of returning.”

                “The lesson to be learned here is opportunity.  High Nielsens are not the only renewal factor here, as you would have all been shoved down the escalator t hell the first time you delivered a fractional demo.  But rather, it is about compatibility and portability.  The weak shows will just have to move around or take the slots no one wants.  All of you will wait till next week and see if ABC opens up more real state.  At least one of you will not be back next season, though all three of you may be sent down below.  Beware….”

               The three shows exited the chamber, humbled to realize the graveness of their next week.  The next two shows were summoned forth by the CBS jury – The Great Indoors and 2 Broke Girls.  Like the band of three ABC shows, both were asked to defend their renewal.  “We rip on the millennials.  Everyone hates them!” joked TGI.  “We rip on stupid people standing next to us.” Bit back 2 Broke Girls.  “We have a marquee star who brings the viewers.” Declared TGI.  “We have Stifler’s mom, and a horse!”  “We gave the Big Bang a nice workplace neighbor.” Inched TGI.  “We’ve never been the Big Bang’s neighbor!” declared 2BG.  The CBS judge intervenes, declaring the following:

“Knock it off you two!  We get you have both mastered tasteless jokes.  Okay, we get that The Great Indoors is a great vehicle to beat the young millennials over the head.  And we get 2BG swims in the toilet fishing for jokes.  Gut guess what?  CBS left you out of their early renewal, demonstrating a loss of faith in you two.”

             “The Great Indoors, you were handed the greatest launch for a successful show, and you squandered it.  Imagine if a fellow show used that space such as Life in Pieces, Superior Donuts or even your fellow neighbor defending their renewal.  It is evident all would have outperformed you.  And it shows dissension when the network moves your last two shows so late in the season.  It doesn't help that your permanent move allowed two struggling shows to thrive, deeming you the rock around Thursday evening's neck.  That, tripled with delivering CBS’ lowest-ever aired sitcom rating places you at a 20% chance for renewal.”
             “And 2 Broke Girls, you are a guest on CBS’s schedule.  So banking up episodes is inconsequential to them.  You have had a long, hearty run, but your material and premise is waning via writing.  If you contest that statement, need I point to the plane and riverboat farce this season.  However, there is still some premise and life left in this show.  It is a proven fact new shows are a risk, and one or two are bound to burn off.  This may be 2 Broke Girls’ ticket  back into the schedule.  Although our records indicate you have already been bounced around 11 times on the schedule, you will likely retain a few more moves if you return next year.  You have a 45% chance for renewal.  Any last words from you two shows?”

             “Bite me CBS!” Spits 2 Broke Girls.  “We have a horse and syndication; we’ll be sure Chestnut dumps a big pile of Brooklyn on your floor before we exit!”

              As the CBS shows make their rude exit, they are shuttled away with ABC.  Elsewhere, the room is divided in two by network.  FOX’s jury room is overcrowded.  “I would ask you to defend your shows, but all of you rate in the anemic range.” Branded the judge.  “But I don’t rest in the anemic range!  I am in 15th Place with a 1.28 average.” Declared Son of Zorn.  “Nahh, you don’t.” corrected the judge.  “You are merely inflated.  Tell me how does a valuable show range from a 2.4 to 0.6?  You had enhancements, so get back in line!”  (Son of Zorn skulks back into line with the other four shows).

              “As I was saying, you are all anemic.  But guess what?  So is the rest of your network!  Even Empire is just an ordinary show now with a 1.9.  The problem is, where are you five going to fit?  Brooklyn 99 and New Girl, you are aging.  Last Man on Earth, you are barely past the 50-yard line needed for syndication.  And you two other shows worth forgetting, you’ll see that syndication line.  In about…. 7-10 years!”

              “New Girl, I foresee a partial season at the least to give you a proper sendoff.  Brooklyn 99, what else does Fox have going on Tuesdays?  And Last Man on Earth, you have the least desirable timeslot aside from Fridays and Thursdays in entirety.  I would forecast all three of you have 70% odds of returning to our screens.”

               “But what about us?” questioned Making History.  “Do I really have to speak the obvious here?” laughed the judge. “I’ll be kind and call you both, a 20% chance.  As in if Fox is hurting for filler, you will be called back next year!  Both of your shows deplete ratings from the schedules.”

              Over in the NBC chamber,  Trial and Error  and Great News entered, fearful as they saw the previously called sitcoms on trial exit the chambers, never to be heard from again.  As they were seated, the judge declared the following:

              "Since you entered the season so late and have so little history, I will not ask you both why your shows should survive next year.  Both of you are equally matched in sophistication and avoid such nuisances as laugh tracks and toilet humor.  However, NBC has a full and successful schedule.  They hemorrhage successful dramas, and their sitcoms rank in the bottom of the genre in demographics.  You are both fighting for survival, so I suggest you both duke it out in your next place."

             "Where is that?" both inquired.  "You're going to test your survival at Fractional Lake.  Follow the bailiffs."  As both journeyed out of the chambers, they were led to what appeared to be a peaceful spring retreat with familiar guests.  All the shows with a 70% survival rate or less.  "Beware of the lake.  It looks peaceful swimming in fractional waters, but a show killer lies under the surface of the water."

             Trial and Error and Great News dipped their toes into the waters, joining nine other shows swimming in fractions.  Absent from the pack was 2 Broke Girls, who refused to step into the fractional waters having come close.  Little did they realize two other shows, The Odd Couple and Powerless, swam the waters recently and are missing.

             Tune in next week, as a bloodbath of cancellations befalls the 12 shows by sundown on Friday the 12th....

             If you are a new or returning show, beware of the fractional waters.  You could get pulled under just as this camper did from her canoe...


1st: The Big Bang Theory (duh!)
2nd: Modern Family
3rd: The Simpsons
4th: The Goldbergs

9th: American Housewife
10th: The Great Indoors
11th: Mom
12th: The Good Place

20th: Last Man Standing
21st: Superstore
22nd: The Mick
23rd: The Odd Couple

33rd: Powerless
34th: Making History.


The Great Indoors
Son of Zorn
The Odd Couple (Deceased)
Trial and Error
The Real O'Neal's
Imaginary Mary
Great News
Powerless (Deceased)
Making History

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