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Sunday, September 14, 2014

FALL PREVIEW 2014: The Sophomore Class

Today is my official kickoff to the fall season with a week-long preview to the new year. Each day will have a preview of that night of programming. Before I start, here is a look at the sophomore class. This blog focuses a lot on the newbies so below are the ones that won't get as much attention, but are fortunate enough to be returning for a second season.

Past Sophomore Class Previews: 2013   2012   2011

This is also the beginning of the fifth year of the blog, so here's a look back at each season of newbies and where those shows are (or aren't) today:

2010-11
40 new shows
10 returned for a second season (25%)
5 are still on the air and entering season five (Mike & Molly, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, The Voice, Bob's Burgers)

2011-12
47 new shows
20 returned for a second season (43%)
9 are still on the air and entering season four (Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Last Man Standing, Scandal, Celebrity Wife Swap, 2 Broke Girls, Person of Interest, Grimm, New Girl)

2012-13
33 new shows
9 returned for a second season (27%)
7 are still on the air and entering season three (Nashville, Chicago Fire, Elementary, The Mindy Project, The Following, Hannibal, The Taste)

2013-14
43 new shows
12 returning for a second season (28%)
and here they are!

THE BLACKLIST (NBC) - The most hyped returning show was the biggest new hit for NBC new years and the biggest new hit of the 2013-14 season. It is clear that NBC's top priority this season (more than any new show) is continuing to keep The Blacklist hot. It will start the season still airing on Mondays at 10pm after the strongest part of The Voice's season. Then in November, it goes on hiatus for just over two months to make room for State of Affairs. When it comes back, it gets the coveted post-Super Bowl slot before becoming the anchor of the new Thursday night lineup. At least that's the plan for now and I do see that staying though I guess it's possible it could come back to Mondays if State of Affairs bombs. I watched all of season one and enjoyed it for the most part though I felt the quality was a little inconsistent. Hopefully some of the problems have been ironed out for the new season.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) - Even more than The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was easily the most hyped show going into last season. By all accounts, it failed to live up to the hype. Yet it actually did decently, just not when compared to what people expected. Now it gets another chance. The good news is it gets to move an hour later to Tuesdays at 9pm and away from The Voice and NCIS. The bad news is it has sure-to-be-dreadful lead-ins and fans still seem quite mixed on quality, though the consensus seemed to be it got better at the end of the season. I watched the first episode but this wasn't my cup of tea.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX) - It seems like it's been forever since Sleepy Hollow was on, and that's because it ended its season after just 13 episodes in January. But things went quite well for the show until then as it was one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for FOX. The question is, what direction will it go in for season two? Will it take advantage of its genre lead-in (Gotham) to give FOX its strongest night? Or will it go the way of The Following and collapse in season two after so much time off? I'm pretty high on Gotham so I'm inclined to say Sleepy Hollow is going to have a solid second season. I watched the first several episodes but didn't stick with it. A little too wacky for me.

RESURRECTION (ABC) - ABC was having a pretty disastrous new season for dramas outside of Marvel when this show surprised everyone by premiering the Sunday after the Oscars to huge numbers. The bad news was it went on a steady decline through its eight episode run, but it had so much room to fall so it earned itself a second season. The trajectory did not look good for this show and I see no reason that will change even if lead-in Once Upon a Time gets a "Frozen" bump. I watched season one the whole way through but I don't plan to continue. There are always shows that get bumped for news ones for me and this is definitely going to be one of them.

CHICAGO PD (NBC) - Chicago PD was a middling success in its first season. It did best when it was crossing over with Chicago Fire or Law & Order: SVU, but it had trouble gaining any traction on its own. NBC seems pretty committed to the Chicago franchise so I think it's likely we'll continue to see crossovers and attempts to get this show to thrive on its own. I watched season one and I'm going to start watching season two but I had a hard time staying interested in the episodes that didn't involve Fire crossovers. It could be a candidate for replacement on my list, but we'll see.

MOM (CBS) - There are three sophomore sitcoms that are being pushed hard by their respective networks desperate to turn their modest season ones into hit runs. Mom on CBS is one of those shows. It always did OK last season but never really broke through. CBS is giving it the prime opportunity to find a new audience by airing it after The Big Bang Theory for a month on Mondays before regular lead-in 2 Broke Girls takes over. It is also airing on TBS for a month in a special arrangement. I think it has a good chance to improve its ratings in season two, but I'm not sure if I'll watch or not. I was mixed on it in season one though I loved Allison Janney. I'll give it a chance to keep me interested.

THE GOLDBERGS (ABC) - The ABC show getting a big second season push is The Goldbergs. After floundering on Tuesdays but not completely sinking, ABC is giving it a timeslot upgrade by moving it to Wednesday nights after The Middle. On paper it seems like a perfect fit and the summer reruns have seemed to indicate that it is a very compatible show. Of any second year show on any network, this is the one that seems like it has the best chance to go up in the ratings. If it doesn't, it will be a disappointment. The Goldbergs really found its groove creatively in the second half of season one and I can't wait to see season two, plus there's finally a show to enjoy between The Middle and Modern Family!

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (FOX) - The big comedy push on FOX is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show was one of the lowest rated to get renewed but it had major creative support including Golden Globe wins for the show and Andy Samberg and an Emmy nomination for Andre Braugher. Now it will be the first live-action sitcom to air on FOX Sundays in years. It is nestled between The Simpsons and Family Guy, which is a good thing in the fall thanks to the football lead-in. It will have a better lead-in than it had at any point last season but compatibility could be an issue as football fans could easily switch over to Sunday Night Football at 8:30pm. I don't see it soaring but the creative support should get it a third season. This was my favorite new show last season and I'm so excited for season two.

THE MILLERS (CBS) - CBS launched four sitcoms last fall and two are coming back. They seem really high on Mom but the show that's actually getting The Big Bang Theory lead-in for most of the season is still The Millers. It was one of the highest rated new shows but a lot of that was due to the lead-in as retention was horrible. CBS must have not had a great development season because this will get another chance. I could see it doing enough for CBS to want it to push it to syndication, but I could also see them pulling the plug if any comedies break out or development is good. I watched a few episodes here and there but didn't really enjoy the show.

ABOUT A BOY (NBC) - About a Boy seemed to actually give NBC something to work with in the comedy department on Tuesdays early on with solid numbers after the Olympics. But it faded down the stretch and now it's headed to 9:30pm as its lead-in Marry Me will get the prime post-The Voice timeslot. However, both shows are a little whimsical and may be good companions. About a Boy probably doesn't need to top what it did last year because that's a tall order. I think NBC would be pleased if it did better than spring 9:30pm occupant Growing Up Fisher. Given the likely disastrous numbers on NBC Thursdays at 9pm for comedy, About a Boy may do enough to keep going. I liked but didn't love season one. It's another "bubble" show on my watch list.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR (FOX) - Masterchef Junior is another cheap option in the Gordon Ramsey empire. It will return to Friday nights and has already been renewed for 2015-16. In a low pressure timeslot, it should do fine.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT (ABC) - After a decent Christmas run last season, The Great Christmas Light Fight will return again in December, presumably to be a one month bridge between Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor again.

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