It's easy to look back at the fall season in retrospect and say you could have seen the success or cancellations of certain series coming. But trying to predict the success of the new series of the season isn't quite as simple. There's the matter of considering the plot, the stars, who's behind it, the network it's airing on, and what it's airing against. We took all of that into consideration when we attempted to predict which new network TV comedies and dramas would be hits, and which would flop.
It seems important to note that this list is not about predicting which shows we'll like or dislike. As anyone familiar with the primetime television game knows, the best shows don't always see the success they deserve, and other shows somehow managed to survive season after season, despite not measuring up to our standards for good television. Our opinions of the plot did factor into our predictions, but in the end, we rated the shows by their predicted success rate, not the quality of the programming. (In a perfect world, the two would go hand in hand.)
How it works:
As you'll see, each series has a number next to its title. To compile this list, each of us used a score of 1-10 - with 10 being the highest predicted rate of success for that series and 1 being the lowest. The number next to each title is the average score earned based on the scores given to it by those of us who contributed. This list includes the top five predicted winners and the bottom five predicted cancellations based on average score. You can see the full list of series (including the ones that fell somewhere in the middle) and their average scores down below.
Elementary - 8.72
Airs: Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the fact CBS has chosen to do a take on Sherlock Holmes around the same time Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s Sherlock has made its mark on many an American home. If anything, this controversy has only served to boost a show that CBS was already touting via corner pop-ups on TV screens months and months ago. Sure, Elementary will be airing on Thursday nights, which is a notoriously tough spot for TV, but it has enough going for it that the show should stick around on the network for a while.
Elementary has several standout premises, including a female take on Watson and star power from Kill Bill’s Lucy Liu and Trainspotting’s Jonny Lee Miller. Plus, the CBS drama will get a boost from the highly touted Person of Interest airing prior. Lastly, Elementary will be airing in the 10 o'clock slot. Its only big competition will be Scandal and Rock Center, which is a joke. If the new Sherlock Holmes show doesn’t make a clean sweep of the hour, we will be astounded.
Arrow - 8.64
Airs: Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
The CW has already shown that they can successfully bring superheroes to live action television, and Arrow is poised to continue that success. With the Smallville audience ready and waiting, Arrow should slip easily into the space it left behind. Arrow is up against The X-Factor on Wednesday night, which is already looking to have a strong season ahead, but the audience for the two is very different. There’s no real competition for Arrow in its time slot, especially for viewers seeking drama, action and adventure. CW viewers are going to tune in for this show, and it will likely win over some new converts the network as well since the other options are some mediocre-looking comedies and the tired Survivor.
Stephen Amell is well-cast as the handsome, troubled billionaire whose life is changed after 5 years stranded on an island. The CW has once again managed to bring a superhero to life minus some of the cheesier side of comic book crime fighters; they’ve followed the no tights and no capes rule that worked for Smallville. Arrow looks dark, gritty, sexy and exciting. It’s the right show on the right network at the right time, and Arrow is poised to be a bulls eye shot for the CW.
The Mindy Project - 8.26
Airs: Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on Fox.
The Wednesday 9-10:00 p.m. time slot is actually pretty tight, especially when it comes to half-hour comedies, but The Mindy Project seems primed for success for several reasons. First and foremost, the talent behind the project is staggering with the very funny Mindy Kaling leading a great team of writers that includes former staffers of Community, The Simpsons and, of course, The Office. It will also be interesting to see how many fans of the workplace sitcom will follow Kelly Kapoor to her new gig, we would wager quite a few since the former is clearly on the way out.
Joining Kaling in front of the camera is Chris Messina, Anna Camp, Ike Barinhotz (hilarious!), Richard Schiff and Stephen Tobolowsky! Not to mention a slew of guest stars from various television comedies like the great Bill Hader and Ed Helms. It also won’t hurt that the predictably ‘adorkable’ new show will follow Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl, a similar female led, looking-for-love sitcom that broke-out last season and should provide the best possible lead in for the, uh, new new girl. It looks fresh and a little raw for network, like the PG-13 version of Lena Dunham’s Girls. And that just might work.
Vegas - 7.88
Airs: Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.
If ever a show sounded like a raging success on paper, it’s Vegas. When it debuts on September 25, it’ll do so on the most popular network (CBS), with a pretty decent time slot (Tuesdays/ 10 EST), against marginally successful competition (Parenthood, Private Practice, local news). More importantly, it will offer potential viewers two leads who have toplined successful projects before (Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis), a story written by the dude (Nicholas Pileggi) who penned one of the more beloved gangster stories ever (Goodfellas) and a basic subject that by definition blends crime, sex appeal and nostalgia (the history of Vegas).
Obviously, people aren’t going to continue tuning in if Vegas is profoundly awful, but half the battle of succeeding as a new show is convincing people to tune in at least once. Viewers will almost definitely come out in droves to see what this show is offering. If it’s decent, it’ll be able to retain most and refine its game as it goes. Plus, like Spartacus and other efforts focused on a specific time period, there’s a natural rise and fall element many will likely want to stick around for. We're not sure we would bet it all on Vegas, but we’d certainly put a few hundred bucks down and cross our fingers.
Nashville - 7.7
Airs: Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
Taking over the time slot vacated by Revenge (which was bumped up to Sunday nights), Nashville comes from Thelma & Louise writer Callie Khouri mashes drama with country music, with its focus on an older country singer who finds herself facing steep competition in the form of an up-and-coming young artist. Given the growing popularity of drama series with a musical focus (Smash, Glee), Nashville's premise should grab people's attention from the start. Factor in the country music twist, and it seems like there's a built in audience for it.
Beyond the music, the series boasts a solid cast, which includes Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton and Heroes' Hayden Panettierre. The series' competition isn't all that bad by comparison to some of the other new series. Nashville has CSI to contend with on Wednesday nights, along with NBC's new drama Chicago Fire. And it looks like Britton will face off against her last series American Horror Story in the 10:00 p.m. time slot. Factor in the country twist, the solid leading ladies, and an intriguing premise, which could offer plenty of drama, we think Nashville's going to be one of the front runners among the new series this fall.
And here are the bottom five new series on the list.
The Mob Doctor - 4.24
Airs: Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.
Not only does the show come across as a throwaway pitch randomly pairing two popular TV genres but Fox didn’t even have the creativity or the care to come up with a title to hide the fact. The Mob Doctor - at best - sounds like the name of an SNL sketch and at worst something developed during an intense bout of Whose Line is It Anyway?. Quick, shout out characters commonly seen on television... Mobsters! Doctors! Mob Doctors! Beyond the terribly unimaginative title lies what looks to be an even more terribly executed show.
Don’t believe me, watch the first episode and see the mob boss order a hit using a bouquet of flowers clearly not concerned with how many people could have seen ‘KILL HIM’ scrawled on the dangling card. And it’s sad to see William Forsythe reduced from recurring as a real gangster on Boardwalk Empire to what seems to be a glorified cameo with all his scenes set on a driveway. With star power like the girl from My Boys (Jordana Spiro) and Michael Rappaport, The Mob Doctor may be the lone one-hour drama in its Monday night time slot, however, the popular reality shows, not to mention Monday Night Football, should leave few eyes for the new series.
The Neighbors - 3.74
Airs: Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.
With its post-Modern Family time slot, The Neighbors should have an advantage over other series, however its goofy premise may not fit the tone set by the other three family-focused comedies on ABC's Wednesday night line-up. Created by Dan Fogelman, The Neighbors stars Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito, and follows a typical suburban family that moves into a gated community, which they soon learn is populated by aliens.
TV has a shortage of sci-fi comedies these days, and as a fan of science fiction, I'd say that's a shame. But with memories of shows like ALF, Out of This World and Small Wonder - with 3rd Rock from the Sun probably being the most recent successful American sitcom with an alien twist, The Neighbors could either be a comeback for the genre or a dated-feeling sitcom about suburban aliens. We're banking on the latter. The only comedy airing against it on network TV is NBC's Guys with Kids, but even with minimal genre competition and a prime time slot, we're thinking this one will have trouble finding an audience.
Animal Practice - 3.3
Airs: Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.
Other than Justin Kirk, we're not sure what Animal Practice has going for it. It’s possible that enough people will find the monkey cute enough to give this show a go – at first – but it’s a gimmick that will get old in a hurry. We don’t see anything to indicate that Justin Kirk will be given decent scripts to work with; animal jokes are easier, and we suspect they’ll take the easy way. NBC has been struggling in the comedy department pretty much since Friends went off the air, coincidentally the last, or maybe only, time a monkey actually worked on a sitcom. Although they may have some potential with other new comedies they’re introducing this fall, it's doubtful Animal Practice is going to do the network any favors in their goal to regain the glory days of must-see TV.
If we're wrong and Animal Practice succeeds, it will be another sad nail in the coffin of smart comedy. But in spite of the number of people actually watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, we still have some faith in television viewers, and predict that Animal Practice will be the one finding itself in an early grave instead.
666 Park Avenue - 3.1
Airs: Sundays at 10/9c on ABC.
ABC’s 666 Park Avenue doesn’t premiere for another few weeks, but the show already has two huge problems. First, the subject matter is positively bizarre. That might be attract a few million extra curious viewers who wouldn’t normally tune into ABC, but there’s also a high percentage of people who would never consider watching a show about an apartment manager who might be the Devil. To succeed on network television, a program needs to cast a wide net. This one overtly does not.
Second, 666 Park Avenue is positioned opposite Sunday Night Football and The Mentalist. Is there a worse time slot on television? Both of those programs regularly do eight figures and have extremely devoted fanbases. We can’t imagine many straying to pick this new offering up, even if it does have the dude from Lost. Its only hope is to generate great buzz early on and use that word of mouth to convince potential viewers they need to get in on “is he the devil?” water cooler conversations. We're not confident that’ll happen, but at least that’s a possible route to success.
Emily Owens, M.D. - 2.94
Airs: Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.
Emily Owens, M.D.’s problems begin with its mouthful of a title and continues through a cast that is less than star-studded and faces some pretty intense competition. When Emily Owens, Md. first airs on October 16, it will be going up against shows with earlier premiere dates and much more star power. You would think the CW’s upcoming show might be able to find a way to stand out, due to it’s focus on a female character; however, the show will air up against female-centric comedies, New Girl and The Mindy Project on Fox, and Don’t Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 on ABC. Honestly, nothing about this timeslot looks good; NBC is also busting out its highly touted new comedies Go On and The New Normal during the 9 o'clock hour and CBS has the highly watched NCIS: LA airing as the show’s only hour-long competition.
The one thing Emily Owens, M.D. has going for it is that it will air on the CW, a network notorious for letting lower rated shows stick around for at least a couple of seasons. We don’t expect this one to make much of a mark on anyone’s radar, but it may not be destined for immediate cancellation, either.