Thursday, February 2, 2017

Best Case/Worst Case: Powerless, Superior Donuts, Training Day

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

Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC

Lead-in: Superstore (1.25 A18-49 this year)

This Year's Timeslot Occupants:
The Good Place (1.18 A18-49)
Thursday Night Football (5.20 A18-49)

In a Nutshell: The latest show from DC Comics hits the airwaves tonight, but it's a very different breed from the superhero dramas on Fox and the CW. Powerless is a half-hour comedy, looking at a company charged with protecting the populace from the collateral damage caused by superhero/supervillain battles.

Best Case: Superheroes are golden in pop culture right now, and this is a unique way of extending that trend into a different kind of show that will feel fresh. It's been picking up rapidly on social media over the last two weeks, and it has the likable Vanessa Hudgens and a very capable/funny supporting cast with comedy experience. It consistently builds by two or three tenths on Superstore, and becomes the surprise leader in NBC's Thursday lineup. 1.45.

Worst Case: If NBC believed in this show, it would've made the fall schedule, since it should've been a good fit on paper with Superstore (both workplace comedies with Hispanic female leads). Now that we're in midseason, putting it after Superstore is actually a bad treatment, since the Tuesday post-Voice slot could've been used. The superhero audience would rather watch actual superhero shows. It has had behind-the-scenes turmoil and some very mixed reviews. Maybe it will figure things out, but the fickle 2017 TV viewer is less likely to give it time to do so. It starts below typical Good Place numbers tonight and soon becomes a huge eyesore in the Thursday lineup. 0.66.

Likeliest: I'm looking forward to this show but I've been skeptical about its prospects ever since it got held off the fall schedule. From what I've seen in the promos, it doesn't feel like a broad-appealing concept, but it seems it may not have the creative goods to carve out a loyal niche audience either. The social media interest seems decent but I'm worried it could be inflated by the Vanessa Hudgens fanbase, and won't translate to Nielsen ratings. I don't think it starts much better than a typical The Good Place episode, and will look like a weaker show by the second or third week. The Good Place is renewed, Superstore will be, and I'd guess at least one of the Voice lead-out comedies on Tuesday will eventually join them. I doubt Powerless will be needed. 0.93.

Superior Donuts
Mondays at 9:00 on CBS

Lead-in: Man with a Plan (1.34 A18-49 this year)

This Year's Timeslot Occupants:
2 Broke Girls (1.44 A18-49, 107 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: CBS surprised at the 2016 upfront when it expanded to four comedy hours with no backup options. But after summer redevelopment, the pilot Superior Donuts was ordered to series in September and became that backup option. It gets a Thursday preview after The Big Bang Theory tonight, then heads to Monday and effectively replaces The Odd Couple (taking the 9/8c slot while 2 Broke Girls slides to 9:30).

Best Case: This show has a really good cast, and is surprisingly well-reviewed by CBS multi-cam comedy standards. It should be a strong fit with the older-skewing wing of the CBS comedy department on Monday. It does better than 2 Broke Girls and even builds from its Man with a Plan lead-in much of the time. 1.65.

Worst Case: There's just nothing to really hook the audience here, like Kevin James or even Matt LeBlanc did with their Monday comedies. It basically does low-end The Odd Couple numbers, which look even worse in the 9:00 slot, and it's an easy dunzo (perhaps getting flipped to 9:30 before the end). 0.90.

Likeliest: Not sure how to feel about this one. I don't expect it to look too impressive in the preview tonight. If it can actually get sampled well on Monday, then I think the viewers will largely stick around. But that's far from a given. I'll say it does a touch better than The Odd Couple (though I'd argue Odd Couple itself would've done better at 9/8c), but behind what 2 Broke Girls usually did in this slot, and behind its Man with a Plan lead-in at a 1.23 average. This probably throws it behind other newbies like Man with a Plan and The Great Indoors. Maybe at this level it'd be an underdog for renewal, but if it overachieves it by even a little bit, the relatively positive buzz may be enough to help it out.

Training Day
Thursdays at 10:00 on CBS

Lead-in: Life in Pieces (1.32 A18-49 this year)

This Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Pure Genius (0.87 A18-49)
Thursday Night Football (4.85 A18-49)

In a Nutshell: The decidedly mixed trend of action movie adaptations on broadcast TV continues tonight with the new drama Training Day. Fox's Lethal Weapon has breathed new life into the space, but CBS flopped less than a year ago (in this very timeslot!) with Rush Hour. The series version of Training Day is actually considered a sequel/follow-up to the movie, rather than a remake.

Best Case: This show will be much more of a Lethal Weapon than a Rush Hour, and it should have an easier competitive situation than Pure Genius did once How to Get Away with Murder clears out soon. It settles at the same low-1 rating we usually see from the high-end CBS 10:00 dramas like Scorpion and NCIS: New Orleans, averaging a 1.33.

Worst Case: Rush Hour failed, but you could at least understand what CBS was going for in pairing it with a comedy block. This show will be a lot less overtly comedic, and it's hard to see it really interesting the Life in Pieces crowd. It starts a bit below the Pure Genius premiere rating and settles at Elementary Sunday levels. 0.68.

Likeliest: I've never seen the original movie, so maybe I'm not qualified to be judging this. Seems plausible there could be enough name recognition to get this show off to a better start than Pure Genius, but I doubt it will be by a wide margin. And while most people kinda forgot about Pure Genius after seeing the 1.0 premiere rating, it quietly held up rather well post-premiere. So even if Training Day starts a tick or two better than Pure, the end result is the same. 0.89 and dunzo.

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