Bubble Bustin’ Weekend: NBC saves “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; more shows canceled

Leah Remini (l.) and Kevin James on “Kevin Can Wait”.
(Photo By Jeff Neumann/CBS via Getty Images)

Fox and NBC save shows; why do the networks cancel all these shows in a three-day window?

The Bubble didn’t just burst on Friday for several on-the-fence shows…it exploded.

According to TV Line, a total of nineteen shows were canceled in twenty-four hours’ time between Thursday and Friday – not unusual for this time of year as the major networks shape up schedules for next season ahead of the upcoming week’s network upfronts. While the broadcast networks continued sweeping out programming, two networks added programs cast off from others.

In a surprise move, NBC late Friday night picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a sixth season after Fox canceled it after five. This comes despite the comedy averaging less than a 1.0 Nielsen rating over the years. Universal Television – who parent is NBCUniversal – produces Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Fox decided to pick up Last Man Standing after getting its cancellation on ABC a year ago.  The move generated strong reaction on social media – but negatively from fans of Fox’s three recently canceled sitcoms, including Brooklyn. It also signals a shift away from single-cam comedies from the network overall as Fox is preparing for life without its sister studio as it is being sold to Disney – or someone else.

The cancellations continued however into its second day with a total of eleven series getting whacked. ABC bore the brunt, cancelling Alex, Inc; The Crossing; Deception; Designated Survivor; Kevin (Probably) Saves the World; and Quantico. Also, Inhumans was finally canceled six months after its final episode aired; and for good measure, ABC canceled The Mayor again doing so in January.

NBC dropped four shows on Friday: The Brave, Great News, Rise, and Taken, while Fox added Lucifer and Chicago-shot The Exorcist to its casualty list. Earlier this week, The CW dumped Valor and Life Sentence.

As of this writing, CBS so far can canceled three shows: Kevin Can Wait, Scorpion, and Superior Donuts. And a few shows are still on the bubble: Despite series star Gillian Anderson passing on another season of the show, Fox has punted on a decision to bring back X-Files, basically letting the decision rest in Chris Carter’s hands. ABC has yet to decide about the fate of Agents of SHIELD, whose season finale may provide a hint of things to come – or not to come:

There were also plenty of renewals as many shows came off the bubble. ABC renewed How To Get Away With Murder for a fifth season; CBS renewed a volley of programs including Criminal Minds, Elementary, Man With A Plan, Life In Pieces, and in a surprise, Instinct. Fox also officially picked up last-minute renewals for Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy, though their fates were never in doubt.

A note about this “Bubble Bustin” stuff – after the very lackluster results for Inhumans last fall after its eight-episode run had completed last November, it took ABC six months to announce the show’s cancellation. Six months. So I’m wondering…why does the major broadcast networks wait until the days before the upfronts to cancel shows?

I find it ridiculous for ABC to wait this long to cancel Inhumans. The show had no realistic chance at renewal so why wait half a damn year? The headlines we see about “20 shows canceled in 24 hours” makes the industry look bad and you wonder why the network television business is no longer respected. Look, network television is losing viewers – especially younger ones year after year and this “collusion”- type stunt a measly three days a year hurts the credibility of the major networks and the TV business in general – especially when cable networks and streaming services and even syndicators make renewal/cancellation decisions year-around.

What’s worse, the timing of these cancellations are plain awful as The Last Man On Earth and Scorpion ended their seasons on cliffhangers.

Fans of these shows and the people who work on them – whether behind the camera or in front of – deserve better. Tugging along their heartstrings just to build some phony drama before upfronts is crass and cruel.