Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Two Weeks, About a Boy/Growing Up Fisher

We'll do these two in tandem since they are somewhat connected. Anyway, the new comedies About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher did not exactly have the traditional week one and week two since they had Olympics previews (2.2/2.0) and then pilot repeats (2.3/2.0) before the actual regular timeslot originals began. But we'll use the first regularly scheduled originals, which had a respectable 2.5 (About a Boy) and 1.9 (Growing Up Fisher). The Voice led in with a 4.1 demo (including a 4.4 at 8:30), which was actually up from the 3.7 (4.0 at 8:30) that had led into the pilot repeats the week before.

After three different airings in roughly the same ratings arena, the shows took their first noticeable downturns for the second in-timeslot episodes. About a Boy was down a somewhat disturbing 20% to a 2.0, while Growing Up Fisher shed just 11% to a 1.7. It is worth noting that a perhaps significant part of this can be explained by the Daylight Saving effect coming into play on this night, depressing The Voice (3.5) by 15% week-to-week.

Before these shows premiered, I was reasonably confident that this would be a Renew (AaB)/Cancel (GUF) situation. Now, I'm less confident. There's certainly a level at which Cancel/Cancel would happen, but I could see NBC making a renewal even at modest reach levels for "face-saving" reasons. (Two straight years with no new comedy renewals is quite embarrassing.) Based on how they were scheduled, Cancel (AaB)/Renew (GUF) seems quite unlikely. Even if Growing Up Fisher overachieves expectations, NBC clearly prefers About a Boy since it got the direct post-Voice slot, and it's hard to see Fisher having enough heat to actually pull ahead of a Voice lead-out in raw numbers. And that's probably what it'd take to flip the script.

Implied in cutting those two possibilities is a Renew for About a Boy.What happened last week is worrisome, but the drop was exaggerated by DST, and the show is still reasonably ahead of even what I would consider the "face-saving" territory. Plus, it won't have to face both of its comedy logjam competitors New Girl and The Goldbergs every week going forward (NG is in repeats tonight).

That leaves Fisher, whose steadiness makes this a tougher call than I was expecting. I don't have the final True for last week yet, but there's some chance it could actually end up ahead of Boy. (It was Boy 1.65 vs. Fisher 1.58 in prelims.) While there may not be much True separation between these two shows, the real question is where they end up on the larger spectrum. They're in good shape now, but coupled with The Voice's late-season drops I see them both ending up somewhere in the marginal to "face-saving" range, especially on a True basis. It's possible both could survive. But I say it's more likely NBC won't see the need for two marginal renewals, and they'll try a new comedy in an hour alongside one of these shows. Fisher may end up having a very real case that it was really no different from About a Boy if the slots were flipped, but because of NBC's preference for AaB, I'll say Cancel for Growing Up Fisher.

"First Two Weeks" is an ongoing experiment to see how often a new scripted show's fate can be predicted by the very earliest data. Here are the picks and lineups for every show this season.


Spot said...

It's not unprecedented for NBC to renew only 2 sitcoms (see this season with Parks & Recreation and Community), but it definitely would feel off-putting if Community grinds out a final season renewal while Growing Up Fisher was canceled. Then again, I think a Community renewal would be about Sony's strength in getting flop-worthy shows renewed...

Anyway, part of me thinks NBC doesn't want to "start from scratch" again with sitcoms so I wouldn't be surprised with Fisher is renewed because of that.

Spot said...

Yes, with your self-imposed first-two-weeks: About a Boy face-saving renewal, and Growing Up Fisher probably cancel despite holding better than expected.

You said it all. Maybe I can chip in few words about scheduling perspective. They said they'll give Parks & Recreation final season. And they're developing Cosby's show, and new Tina Fey show, and whatnot. So if About a Boy is renewed, then there's no room for Growing Up Fisher. Not even for midseason/spackle, I'd say NBC would prefer Community for that role. Plus they already picked some fillers, 6-episodes of Mr. Robinson, and two (presumably cheap) co-productions: Welcome to Sweden, and Working the Engels (I think it's 12 episodes each).
That is, if they'll have 2 hours of comedy next fall. I believe they will, unless they give 3rd hour to Maya Rudolph variety series. It might happen, like: if we're utterly failing on Thursdays anyway, then let's put something cheap there for the time being.

Spot said...

Flip a coin on these two. NBC could easily justify making any combination of cancellations or renewals.

That said, I think there's an argument for keeping Growing Up Fisher over About a Boy: it's exceeded expectations plus NBC could keep it in the 9:30 slot next season while giving the post-Voice slot to a new comedy.

Spot said...

Renew About a Boy, but moved it back a half hour for something new

Spot said...

Same opinion here.

About a Boy will be brought back because networks mostly don't care about retention (especially NBC, who needs to build a bigger scripted estate).

Fisher will be canceled because as the true metric shows, its high 1s 30 minutes after The Voice are no better than the low 1s earned by Parks and Recreation, for example.

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