TV hits and misses: We predict the 2018-19 season
Let's get this over with: We blew it last year in predicting that ABC's reboot of "Roseanne" would flop. But in our defense, the cast's appearance at last year's upfronts was incredibly awkward and did the opposite of building confidence in the show's return. (So, really, read on!)
We empathize with advertisers that must predict a full three months out—and in some cases, a half a year out—which shows to bet on. But that's how TV works, and while there continues to be fewer and fewer trailers for us to assess during May's dog-and-pony show, it's a tradition that prevails. So we're going to take some educated guesses and predict which crop of next season's shows will live beyond their freshman run—and which do not stand a chance.
If the successful revivals of "Will & Grace" on NBC and "Roseanne" on ABC are any indication, CBS should do just fine with its reboots of "Magnum P.I." and "Murphy Brown." For the eye network, which has already successfully rebooted shows like "MacGyver" and "Hawaii Five-0," "Magnum P.I." fits right in. This time around the title character, Thomas Magnum, originated by Tom Selleck, will be played by Jay Hernandez ("Friday Night Lights," "Scandal"). It's pretty standard fare for CBS, but missing one crucial component: Selleck's mustache.
"Murphy Brown" is sure to get plenty of attention amid the current political climate and the clips teased by CBS promised the show would tap into current events. There were plenty of Trump jabs and it appears to be leaning heavily into the theme of fake news. Candice Bergen, who plays the title role, applauded the journalists in the room while slamming Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity. "We want to be really timely, that's why we didn't film a pilot," Bergen said. "If we had, we'd already be several major headlines and a dozen Stormys out of date."
Speaking of reboots, The CW will revive "Charmed" next season. It's a much better choice than this season's refresh of "Dynasty" (it was renewed but is one of the lowest rated series on broadcast). For one, there's relatively more awareness of the show, which is about three sisters who are witches. The series will air on Sunday nights, making it the first time The CW is programming the night with originals. But the reboot has already gotten some pushback after The CW described it as a "feminist" reboot, implying the original wasn't.
The return of "Last Man Standing" on Fox is likely to get plenty of sampling after fans bemoaned its cancellation on ABC last season. The Tim Allen comedy returns to Friday nights in the fall, and its middle-America sensibilities are expected to do well on the heels of hit "Roseanne."
Similarly, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," which moves from Fox to NBC next season, has a loyal following that should move along with it. NBC had been closely following the comedy, which is produced by its own Universal TV, since it passed on the opportunity to pick it up for the 2013 season, and is certainly looking to keep it around at least for a few more seasons.
There's also "The Village" on NBC. If you can get past the title, which makes the show sound like a thriller, the drama about a group of people living in a Brooklyn apartment has a similar tone as "This Is Us." The question is if there is any tissues left for a show like this.
ABC did a good job picking up comedies that fit in well with its family-friendly fare. "Single Parents" has a strong ensemble cast that includes Brad Garrett as, unsurprisingly, single parents who work together to make it through the day. And "The Kids are Alright," about a family with eight boys growing up in the 1970s has similar vibes as other successful comedies, ABC's "The Goldberg's" and "Young Sheldon" on CBS.
Clearly, we're suckers for ensemble tear-jerkers, and the alphabet network's new drama "A Million Little Things" looks like it will deliver. The show is about a group of friends who, after one of them commits suicide, realize they need to start really living.
But perhaps the most enjoyable trailer shown during ABC's pitch was for a spin-off of the reality show "Dancing With the Stars" featuring pint-sized ballroom dancers. The "Juniors" edition had everyone in Lincoln Center smiling, and given the stability of the original, "Dancing With the Stars: Juniors" should be a reliable addition.
ABC's "Whiskey Cavalier" is already marked for death thanks to Jimmy Kimmel. "We're also picking up a show called 'Whiskey Cavalier.' It took a while, but we finally came up with a title that's worse than 'Cougar Town,'" the late-night host quipped. "'Whiskey Cavalier' is described as a high-octane hour-long action dramedy that follows the adventures of a tough-but-tender FBI super-agent Will Chase, whose code name is 'Whiskey Cavalier.' Should we cancel it now or should we wait until you leave the room?"
The audience burst out laughing when later in ABC's presentation Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, introduced the show. Then stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen stumbled through their stage time. Dungey attempted to save things, telling the audience: "When we're celebrating Season 10 of 'Whiskey Cavalier,' I'm going to bring Jimmy back out here and we will talk about it." Good luck with that.
ABC's "The Fix" is bound to get lost. Yet another legal drama, this one is about a Los Angeles district attorney who after a devastating defeat prosecuting an A-list actor for double murder goes into hiding. She emerges eight years later when the same actor is a suspect in another murder. It's interchangeable with another new legal drama, "Proven Innocent," on Fox, about a woman who having been wrongfully convicted of a murder when she was a child now works to exonerate the innocent. It's also likely not to make it to a second season.
Fox spent some of its presentation touting how much younger its audience is compared with other broadcasters. Then it unveiled its new comedy, "The Cool Kids," about a bunch of old people living in a retirement home. Not cool.
CBS made some good strides toward diversifying is programming beyond white men. One such effort is "The Neighborhood," starring Cedric the Entertainer, who is upset when a Midwestern white family moves into his predominantly black Los Angeles neighborhood. But the trailer felt like CBS was simply trying to diversify the faces on its network, not make a compelling show.
"God Friended Me" was another odd edition to CBS' Sunday night lineup. Starring Brandon Michael Hall, the show follows an outspoken atheist who receives a friend request from God on Facebook, essentially becoming an agent of change. While the trailer was more compelling than expected, the title will certainly be a turnoff for many.
NBC's "New Amsterdam" will likely be another victim to a sea of medical dramas like ABC's "The Good Doctor."
As for last year, we did make some correct predictions: NBC renewed "Will & Grace" for not one but two seasons; CBS' "Young Sheldon" was the first new broadcast series to get a full-season order last September, just two days after it premiered, and was renewed early in the new year; ABC will bring back "American Idol"; and while not necessarily a big ratings hit, "The Gifted" was renewed by Fox for a second season.
We we're also right in betting that ABC's "Alex Inc." and "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World," would not see second seasons; that CBS' comedy "Me, Myself & I" would be axed; and that NBC's "The Brave," despite getting the coveted slot after "The Voice," would fail to perform.
Still, we're ashamed that we picked NBC's "Rise" as a show that would be a hit; we never even watched it. We expected the "The Resident" to fail, but it has been renewed for a second season on Fox, and while we contend ABC's "The Mayor" really had potential, it failed to find an audience.