|Agents of SHIELD|
|Premieres September 23|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Goldbergs||Trophy Wife|
Best Case: This show got a nice bump when it aired at 9/8c with more favorable competition last year, and overall it held up a lot better in the second half of season one than it was given credit for. Once again, it will be connected with a movie release (The Avengers sequel in May 2015), but the powers that be learned their lesson and are able to make that connection more of a positive. It'll be down big early because of the inflated pilot and early episodes, but it picks up some steam as Avengers 2 nears and is down just barely to 2.30.
Worst Case: ABC has thrown this show onto an island surrounded by major Tuesday failure, and that will matter. It doesn't get much lower and much less compatible than Manhattan Love Story as a lead-in. And the powers that be did not learn their lesson from the Captain America 2 situation last year, so the show has to hold back plot in a big way. That'll be an even bigger deal since the 2015 movie release comes at the very end of the season. Down over a third to 1.52 and ABC cuts its losses.
Likeliest: I defended this show's ratings for much of last year, so I would feel hypocritical jumping ship now. It got much better creatively in the second half of the season, and it's hard to imagine Marvel not handling the upcoming movie release better. The rest of Tuesday is gonna be a mess, which will hold it back from doing even better, but it's the reverse of the Sleepy Hollow situation; it won't be as bad for this show as it'd be with a casual viewing-driven comedy or procedural. I'll say a 1.96, which is down 18% (but less than 10% from the average minus the inflated first five episodes).
|NCIS: New Orleans (NEW!)|
|Premieres September 23|
|Timeslot Occupants||NCIS: Los Angeles|
Best Case: Give CBS credit for not just trying to cash in with substandard property NCIS: Red last year. They took an extra year and they got it very, very right, and it will pay off. It's basically like The Mentalist season one, posting full retention or even a bit better of NCIS at a 2.50.
Worst Case: When crime dramas have extended their brand to a third show, they've often ended up with a long-term but more modest player. (See CSI: NY and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.) CBS largely picked this up to avoid the PR embarrassment of torpedoing NCIS spin-offs in back-to-back years, and it's a significant step down from what NCIS: Los Angeles always did here. A league-average 1.70 and done after one full season.
Likeliest: I was planning to be a bit contrarian with this show because generally I'd rather be launching a new spin-off from a growing franchise (NCIS circa 2009) than a declining one (NCIS circa 2014). But the big repeat ratings last week calmed my fears about initial interest somewhat, and it's not like NCIS is declining that much. I also think Scott Bakula will be a legitimately appealing lead for this audience. Since I predicted NCIS at about the same Plus it had in LA's first season, I'll give NCIS: NO the same Plus as LA had in season one: 2.12. Will never get as big as the peak LA years because it will miss out on the peak NCIS years, but it will be a nice player as long as NCIS is one.
|Marry Me (NEW!)|
|Premieres October 14|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Voice Tue Fall||About a Boy|
Best Case: Unlike NBC's other post-Voice comedy efforts, NBC is not banking on some big star or movie franchise but actually choosing a program with merit. It's broadly funny enough for the mass Voice audience and has leads who are credible with the young niche comedy crowd. They finally find themselves a Revolution-sized comedy hit and they protect it during the Voice hiatus as they did with Revolution. 2.22.
Worst Case: Take NBC's "from the creator of Happy Endings" promos as a sign that this is another likable but niche comedy in the making. It doesn't have as much of a hook as previous occupants, so it starts a lot lower than Go On or About a Boy. And the fact that it doesn't start until the fourth week of the season isn't a vote of confidence. Its ultimate sub-50% retention of The Voice at 1.36 is not acceptable and something big happens before the end of the fall. (A flip with About a Boy? 90-minute Voice episodes into AaB? The hour is killed entirely for Voice recaps at 8 and originals at 9?)
Likeliest: There's always a show or two each fall for which I really wish I had the screener, and this is one this year. Maybe it's a clear cut above the other post-Voice occupants, but I'm not particularly feeling it from what little I've seen, and it may not be as compatible with The Voice as About a Boy. So I'm probably missing something, but I'll say it settles at the same kind of just-over-50% retention we're used to seeing from previous occupants and averages a 1.72. It probably gets an extension/renewal, but I don't know that it will return to post-The Voice in the spring. May have to do another post for a new timeslot!
|About a Boy|
|Premieres October 14|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Voice Tue Fall||Growing Up Fisher|
Best Case: I always said this show was totally interchangeable with Growing Up Fisher, but it actually did a little better when it aired a double-episode at the end of the spring (dropping just a tenth at 9:30). It can fully retain what Marry Me does, and Marry Me does well. 1.88.
Worst Case: Like Go On, this series was even more dependent on The Voice than it appeared at the time. Even at 9:30 and in relatively close proximity, a significant collapse is on the way. 1.20.
Likeliest: I have nothing to say about this show, really, which maybe again means that I'm missing something. But I think it will just be kind of there, like Growing Up Fisher last year. It usually goes two ticks behind Marry Me. 1.50. We'll see what happens with this block.
|Premieres September 17|
|Timeslot Occupants||New Girl|
Best Case: A big part of this show's plight is connected to how much worse its lead-ins have gotten, and they were ridiculously terrible in the second half of last season. If Utopia succeeds, that success will trickle into New Girl, which improbably reverses its free-fall and holds up well in season four at 1.55.
Worst Case: This show collapsed in an unbelievable way in the second half last year, and its lead-in situation is actually getting worse with comedies replaced by Utopia. It brings its very low 1's back for the fall and goes sub-1 once Glee or something shows up later in the season. 1.00, down 40%.
Likeliest: Yeah... if I'm not high on Utopia, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which the lead-in situation doesn't get even worse in the fall. It's also difficult to envision it improving to a drastic degree even if Utopia gets pulled. It was down over 40% year-to-year late in the spring, and that trend will continue in the early fall but lessen somewhat later in the season. Like The Vampire Diaries, it just can't collapse this much two years in a row, right? 1.14, down just over 30%.
|The Mindy Project|
|Premieres September 17|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Mindy Project||Brooklyn Nine-Nine|
Best Case: The finale, man, the finale! This series went from a two-thirds retainer of New Girl for its first season and a half to fully retaining NG in the penultimate episode and building on it for the finale. That finale was even year-to-year, and last year's finale had a 2.1 lead-in! On the crumbling Fox of 2014, that counts as significant momentum. It fully retains New Girl even as that show gets a nice Utopia boost and averages a 1.45, up 13% year-to-year.
Worst Case: This show's "heat" last year amounted to one or two episodes, which could very well just be about a particularly momentous plot development or even a Nielsen sampling fluctuation. It promptly returns to 80% retention of a very weak New Girl at 0.88.
Likeliest: I'm not sold that Mindy has actually become a stronger or even equal show to New Girl, because New Girl had to overcome such a horrible lead-in situation. Unfortunately, even if that's true, it's not a particularly actionable piece of insight if New Girl continues having horrible lead-ins. Mindy will stay very close to New Girl's ratings and will also benefit a bit in the comparison from having a shorter episode order. I'd rather extend Mindy to a full season than doom something new with a New Girl lead-in, but right now it's just 15 eps for Mindy. 1.13.
|Premieres October 7|
Best Case: It was a wonderful year for Supernatural, and it ended on a really good note with a big finale spike against the Dancing with the Stars and The Voice finales. The momentum will continue, and The Flash is both much bigger and more compatible as a lead-in. Up another tenth to 1.10.
Worst Case: This show isn't going to get a huge bounce from a lead-in upgrade. The last time SPN had a lead-in upgrade in the same timeslot (season one of The Vampire Diaries) it actually dropped a bit more than average. It overachieved to a huge degree last year, a pace that almost can't possibly continue for a show this old, and the year-to-year trends were getting worse late last season. Flash isn't that big and SPN drops 25% to 0.75, which would tie its Plus from 2012-13 after Arrow.
Likeliest: What happened last year with Supernatural feels almost unbelievable to me, and my lack of imagination makes it hard for me to see it growing much farther even if the situation gets even better. Aside from a finale against zero scripted competition, its trends cooled down somewhat in the second half of the season (though not nearly as much as other CW shows). League average drop: -10% to a 0.90.
The Network to Watch: I'll go with NBC because I think its newbie is more of an unknown than the CBS newbie (even if the CBS one is "not unknown" in a good way).
The Picks: Agents of SHIELD and The Mindy Project. Tiring somewhat of New Girl, so maybe Marry Me can take its place (or maybe I drop both).