Monday, September 19, 2016

Premiere Monday Best Case/Worst Case: Kevin Can Wait, The Good Place and more!

Best Case/Worst Case lays out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere. This year, it will fully cover the new shows, plus a few brief thoughts on some other shows (usually limited to sophomores and on-the-move/particularly interesting veterans). Feel free to add your predictions on what I don't cover. Here's what's premiering tonight!

Kevin Can Wait
Mondays at 8:30 on CBS (moving to 8:00 later)

Lead-in: The Big Bang Theory (3.73 A18-49, 256 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Life in Pieces (2.06 A18-49, 141 A18-49+)
Supergirl (1.68 A18-49, 115 A18-49+)
Mike and Molly (1.60 A18-49, 110 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: CBS' first new series premiere of the season will mark the return of Kevin James to the network, after he starred in The King of Queens for nine seasons in the '90s and aughts. It leads out of The Big Bang Theory for the first five weeks of the season, then will be asked to lead off a two-hour Monday comedy block from there.

Best Case: James has had a pretty successful career even in the aftermath of his network sitcom, which is more than you can say for some other people who have tried similar comebacks. That name recognition alone will interest a lot more TBBT viewers than most of the show's other lead-outs, and it's on-brand enough for CBS to keep most of them after TBBT is gone. 2.05.

Worst Case: CBS may have re-embraced its CBS-ness at the upfront, but expecting their loyal audience will show up even for this kind of crap is just a bit too cynical. The King of Queens was never really that impressive in the ratings, and this show is significantly worse quality-wise. It looks about like The Millers by the end of its run after Big Bang, and is quickly bordering on flop territory when asked to lead off. 0.95, and CBS blows up the two-hour comedy block at midseason.

Likeliest: It's one of the big scheduling wildcards of the season, but the show itself actually seems like a fairly safe, low-ceiling/high-floor proposition. It'll be an OK fit among the network's other second-tier multi-cams, but it's hard to make the argument that kind of show is really on the rise right now. I think it eventually settles in the same league-average-ish area CBS saw in this hour in the early aughts with stuff like Still Standing, Yes, Dear and, yes, The King of Queens itself. That may seem like a disappointment, since we're used to the much stronger CBS comedy department from the early 2010s, but it's still probably enough for CBS to renew. And the TBBT exposure and name recognition from the early weeks will ensure it stays solidly ahead of the league average for the full season. 1.51.

The Good Place
Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC (plus a 10/9c preview tonight)

Lead-in: Superstore (1.48 A18-49, 102 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Heroes Reborn (1.27 A18-49, 87 A18-49+)
You, Me and the Apocalypse (0.69 A18-49, 47 A18-49+)
Strong (0.70 A18-49, 48 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: Thanks to presidential debate complications next Monday, NBC is jumping out of the gate this fall with yet another of its patented post-The Voice previews. This time, it's two episodes of afterlife comedy The Good Place, starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. It will head to Thursday later in the week alongside Superstore.

Best Case: It's the latest comedy from Michael Schur, the mind behind reliably decent performers like Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The concept and star power attract some interest on Monday and then on Thursday, and it holds up well enough to actually start building on its lead-in after Superstore gets whacked by TBBT later in the fall. 1.65 and an easy renewal.

Worst Case: The concept is a little too quirky, and NBC comedy development is still not to be trusted. It might do a bit better than the Telenovela preview from last fall if The Voice is bigger, but it will quickly be south of normal Telenovela numbers on Thursday. And it only worsens when its lead-in gets inexplicably thrown to the Big Bang wolves in late October. 0.70.

Likeliest: One of the surprises at the upfront was when this show made the fall schedule ahead of Powerless, which seemed like a good fit with Superstore and a splashier concept. It's even more interesting now that we know TGP is capped at 13 episodes, and thus will be a tough traditional syndication play. So is that a sign of real confidence in The Good Place or just a bad omen for Powerless and the other comedies? The latter is certainly in play, especially with the Powerless behind-the-scenes turmoil over the summer. I trust Schur enough to say this will do a bit better than the ill-conceived Telenovela, but it's still gonna be the obvious weak link of the Thursday lineup. My guess is it ends up at a bubble to low-bubble level, and NBC waits to see what happens with the other comedies. And something does well enough to bump it out. 1.10.

Other Premieres:

Lucifer (Fox, 1.47 A18-49, 101 A18-49+ last year): The sophomore premiered to surprisingly strong retention after The X-Files in the winter, deteriorated once Gotham returned, but left the air on a hopeful note with a couple 1.3's. It should continue to stay very close to its Gotham lead-in... but the Gotham lead-in will probably keep declining in Plus as well. Likeliest: 1.02.
The Voice Fall (NBC, 3.12 A18-49, 214 A18-49+ last year): NBC's veteran reality tentpole is undergoing one of its highest-profile coach changes this fall, adding Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus to the mix. However, its comparisons will go up against arguably the strongest season in Voice history, from fall 2015. Staying even early on seems possible, but what made last fall stand out was how well it held up late in the season. That'll be really tough to pull off again, as the spring season could attest. Likeliest (Monday eps): 2.58.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 3.73 A18-49, 256 A18-49+ last year)
Gotham (Fox, 1.40 A18-49, 96 A18-49+ last year)

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