After pinpointing the new series I think will succeed last week, I now shift my focus to those I would not get used to. Once again, my benchmarks include the network, time period, competition, lead-in, critical acclaim, social-media potential and the quality of the show itself. And my picks – or pans, in this case – follow my recent two weeks at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, where no one will exactly tell you his show stinks.
That is my job.
Since choosing the first series cancellation of the season is always an interesting task, let me begin with my pick: the reboot of classic 1973 theatrical "The Exorcist" on Fox. Yes, I know -- Fox first introduced "The X-Files" on Friday back in 1993, so the network brass must automatically assume science fiction is a draw on the evening. But the list of genre failures since those early "X-Files" days is lengthy ("M.A.N.T.I.S." "Sliders," "The Visitor" and "Harsh Realm," to name a few). The lead-in program, "Hell’s Kitchen," is just plain tired. And the younger fans potentially interested in this type of dramatic storytelling will probably be out ringing in the new weekend.
Unless the DVR usage is ample, I can already see the proverbial Fox executive head rolling once the ratings for "The Exorcist" are in.
Action drama "Lethal Weapon," the second revival on Fox (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.), will certainly rate higher than "The Exorcist." The lead-out is potent "Empire," and the "halo effect" could mean viewers tune to Fox while waiting for "Empire" to start. But since the last installment in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise was 18 years ago, why the sudden need to recreate what already seems dated? What am I missing here?
CBS, meanwhile, seems to think a revival of action/adventure "MacGyver" will offer stronger lead-in support to older-skewing Friday night lead-outs "Hawaii Five-O" and "Blue Bloods." Let me tell you a secret: The original "MacGyver," which aired on ABC from 1985 to 1992, was never a ratings success. So keep the expectations low and keep in mind how challenging it is for any series to find an audience on Friday, when the HUT (Households Using Television) levels are sinking. Opposite "Shark Tank" on ABC, the biggest adventure "MacGyver" might face is finding viewers.
I would also not expect much from upcoming Fox Thursday 9 p.m. drama "Pitch," which tells the tale of a young pitcher who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball. At the press tour, Dana Walden, Co-Chairman/CEO, Fox Television Group, said "Pitch" is "clearly going to be a show that’s strong with female viewers." But my crystal ball tells me these women will be more interested in ABC’s competing "Notorious," which out of enduring chick-magnet "Grey’s Anatomy" looks like a solid fit until "Scandal" returns in midseason.
"Pitch," which has the disadvantage of airing out of modest "Rosewood," faces another potential obstacle. Historically, there has never been a successful scripted series – comedy or drama – focused on baseball. Do "Bay City Blues," "Ball Four," "A League of Their Own" or "Clubhouse" ring a bell?
Heading over to comedy, NBC is hoping the recent one-time-only airing for "Superstore" out of the Rio Olympics will ignite interest in the sophomore comedy as the Thursday 8 p.m. anchor. It needs the lead-in support for newbie "The Good Place," featuring Kristen Bell as a selfish woman who dies and, due to a clerical error, ends up under the guidance of Ted Danson in heaven. Once the home to those classic "Must-See" Thursday night comedies, the NBC of today does not seem to realize that these single camera offbeat comedies just do not register among the masses. Plus, competing "The Great Indoors" on CBS will have the advantage because it airs out of "The Big Bang Theory."
Last week I touched on Matt LeBlanc as the misguided father of three on CBS’ "Man With a Plan," who learns parenting is the toughest job out there. Crank up the canned laughter! So let me shift my attention to "American Housewife" on ABC, the tale of an average wife and mother ("Mike & Molly’s" Katy Mixon) who realizes—egads!—she will be the second fattest woman living in Westport, CT, now that her rotund neighbor is moving out. Naturally, she must find a chubbier woman to replace her. Do I need to say more?
Finally, given the lack of ratings for "Jane the Virgin" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" I was surprised The CW picked up "No Tomorrow," a fantasy/comedy combo focused on a couple who embark on a quest to fulfill their bucket lists. Since the traditional CW viewer just does not seem invested in anything of a romantic nature (the remake of "Beauty and the Beast" was never a hit), why waste the lead-in support from "The Flash"?
While upcoming drama "Riverdale," based on the classic Archie comic book series, might have been the ticket to a successful CW show with a romantic undertone, the network decided to make the tone dark and creepy. But since "Riverdale" is slated for midseason, I will save that for my picks and pans for early 2017.
"American Housewife" (ABC) – Tuesday 8:30 p.m.
"The Exorcist" (Fox) – Friday 9 p.m.
"The Good Place" (NBC) – Thursday 8:30 p.m.
"Lethal Weapon" (Fox) – Wednesday 8 p.m.
"MacGyver" (CBS) – Friday 8 p.m.
"Man With a Plan" (CBS) – Monday 8:30 p.m.
"No Tomorrow" (CW) – Tuesday 9 p.m.
"Pitch" (Fox) – Thursday 9 p.m.