As T. S. Elliot once wrote, “April is the cruelest month.”
It’s spring, which means the weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and television networks are in the midst of deciding their 2017–2018 lineups. While many shows have either been officially renewed or cancelled by this point, many more remain in limbo, or, to use the preferred jargon, “on the bubble.”
That said, here are five popular shows whose fates still hang in the balance:
The Fox comedy hit a creative slump after a few extremely well-received seasons, and while season five and the current season six have picked up the pace, many seem to feel that the series has reached somewhat of a natural end, and that the recent season six finale felt more like a “goodbye” than a “see you later” (not that that’s ever really stopped series from being renewed in the past, mind you). The viewership statistics aren’t what they once were, either. However, perhaps the most concerning sign for those holding out hope for a seventh season is how both creator Elizabeth Meriwether and main cast member Jake Johnson seem almost remarkably all right with the possibility. Meriwether recently responded to an inquiry about the fate of her show with the hopeful but not particularly impassioned, “I genuinely don’t know! Fingers crossed.” Meanwhile, Johnson has stated his thoughts on New Girl’s future much more bluntly: “I think after this season it’s done.”
While Deadline’s “status report” on TV renewals described Brooklyn Nine-Nine as a “good utility player” that is “expected to return,” Fox has yet to renew the wacky workplace comedy that fills the Parks and Recreation shaped hole in our hearts, and there’s enough doubt out there that at least one television critic felt compelled to make her case for the show’s renewal. However, in contrast to fellow on-the-bubble Fox comedy New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s co-creator Dan Goor and star Andy Samberg both loudly insist that the show has no intentions of going away any time soon — and that they are acting accordingly. “If you’re asking if we wrote a potential series finale, we did not,” Goor said in a recent interview. “We do not want this to be the series finale.”
While the modern take on Sherlock Holmes that isn’t Sherlock has never had the best viewership ratings, they have continued to go down in season five — though how much of this is the fault of the new Sunday 1o p.m. time slot, which, on CBS, means it is often pushed back considerably later in the night due to football. However, CBS owns Elementary, so the corporation makes a fair bit of profit from off-network syndication, and the show does relatively well internationally. All things considered, this one is very much up in the air.
The CW has already renewed the majority of their scripted series, including all of their DC superheroes. The poor-performing new shows No Tomorrow and Frequency are more or less certain for cancellation, and the Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals also seems to be at considerable risk. Most seem to think that the other remaining unconfirmed series, iZombie, has the better odds of returning, but it has yet to be confirmed. If it does come back, though, word is it might be as a limited run.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
The cancellation of Agent Carter has demonstrated that Marvel/ABC synergy has its limits. While Agents of Shield has considerable value as a vehicle for promotions and tie-ins to the super-profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe, the upcoming Marvel’s Inhumans series, set to premiere on ABC this fall, could spell trouble for Agents of SHIELD, even if it does get renewed for season five. The show’s ratings plummeted pretty early on in season one and have stumbled along since (this season’s are barely above those of Agent Carter season 2, which got the axe), though it has managed to develop something of a fandom, as Marvel properties are wont to do. While the more recent plot lines have been better received, they have heavily included Inhumans, including the revelation of a main character as an Inhuman. Though a certain amount of overlap is to be expected, one would think that the introduction of Inhumans will require Agents of SHIELD to move in a different direction, if it sticks around. If the goal is to keep a Marvel presence on network television, regardless of ratings, Inhumans might spell trouble for Phil Coulson and the gang.