Monday, October 3, 2016

Best Case/Worst Case: Conviction, Timeless, Scorpion

Best Case/Worst Case lays out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere. Here's what's premiering tonight.

Mondays at 10:00 on ABC

Lead-in: Dancing with the Stars (1.88 A18-49 so far this season)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Castle (1.10 A18-49, 76 A18-49+)
Bachelor Live (0.98 A18-49, 67 A18-49+)
The Great Holiday Baking Show (1.02 A18-49, 70 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: It took eight years, but ABC is finally opening the fall with something other than Castle in its post-Dancing with the Stars timeslot on Monday at 10/9c. It's the legal drama Conviction, a very different look for Agent Carter alum Hayley Atwell.

Best Case: ABC should have been using this timeslot on new shows for years, and that'll become clear when Conviction starts surprisingly well tonight. Atwell will be an appealing lead for the female-skewing DWTS crowd, helping it to do a little better than the peak years of Castle. 1.47.

Worst Case: The DWTS lead-in is pretty overrated; it was of little help to the Forever premiere a couple years ago, which actually did better the next night after Agents of SHIELD. Scorpion sucks all the drama oxygen out of the 10/9c timeslot. It starts at 1.0ish and is not seen in 2017. 0.70.

Likeliest: This will be an interesting test of how much ABC Studios wants another procedural to hang its hat on, because I don't see it popping out of the gate. It will be a consistently moderate performer. I'm putting it a bit above Castle's disappointing Plus from last year because its reality lead-ins still seem rather healthy, but it will feel like a similar level, and still a long way from peak Castle. I think it holds up OK post-premiere, gets an extension and is basically a bubble show at the end of the season. I'm gonna lean slightly toward it getting a season two, because ABC wants another procedural and it seems like there will be a lot of other problems to address. 1.04.

Mondays at 10:00 on NBC

Lead-in: The Voice (3.19 A18-49 so far this season)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Blindspot (1.83 A18-49, 125 A18-49+)
The Biggest Loser (1.07 A18-49, 74 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: The Monday 10/9c slot after The Voice has been NBC's best launch pad for new dramas in the last half-decade. Some of that thunder may have been stolen this season, with the debate delaying the launch by two weeks and This Is Us off to a stellar start on Tuesday, but NBC will still try to get a second success going with the genre drama Timeless.

Best Case: Among previous occupants, Timeless seems to share the most DNA (as well as a creator) with Revolution, a show that was quite well-sampled in this timeslot. But Timeless' procedural nature should help it sustain those ratings better than Revolution, which had an infamous collapse in the second half of the season. It ends up with a similar Plus to season one of The Blacklist at a 2.02.

Worst Case: This show really pales in comparison to This Is Us buzz-wise, and seems to be setting up for an underwhelming premiere. It's also missing out on the best two weeks of The Voice, which can't help, and Scorpion (which skews a bit younger/maler than most CBS procedurals) may chew into some of the audience this show is shooting for. It starts around the same Plus as State of Affairs (mid-to-high-1's) and settles around season two of The Night Shift levels (1.0ish). Adds up to a 1.15 for post-Voice episodes (and much lower if it ever has to air elsewhere). Rather than let it try a lower-expectations slot, this one is dunzo outright.

Likeliest: Every year, I wrongly claim the show in this slot is going to do worse than the previous occupants (though I ended up being close on Blindspot for the full season, thanks to its spring collapse). But this feels like another premise that is a step down from the big guns of the past. Blindspot's tattooed naked woman was a distinctive, splashy visual that I don't think Timeless can match. Historically in this timeslot, there's a rather wide gulf between the good performers (120 or higher Plus from Blacklist/Revolution/Blindspot) and the bad ones (sub-league average from Smash/State of Affairs/The Night Shift). Timeless should be somewhere in the middle. It's pretty consistently about 25% behind the year-ago Blindspot's raw numbers, and maybe collapses a bit less late in the season? 1.45 in post-Voice episodes. On an increasingly solid network, could that be enough for an outright cancellation? Maybe, but I slightly lean toward a Friday flier or something for season two.

Scorpion (1.77 A18-49, 122 A18-49+ last year): The third-year procedural may wind up being the biggest casualty of CBS' sudden comedy craziness, as it shifts to 10/9c and leads out of middling The Odd Couple after two successful seasons as the Monday centerpiece. This move isn't going to help, but it still might be able to eke out some Plus improvement on what NCIS: Los Angeles did here. It will eventually pull even with or ahead of Timeless in this hour, though it's a bit lower for the full season average. Likeliest: 1.30.

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