Monday, April 29, 2019

Renewology Week 31: The CW Renews Everything, And Other Late-Breaking News

Here's a look at the big Renewology developments in week 31.

Roswell, New Mexico92%
All American65%
In the Dark65%

With a quartet of renewals this week, the CW pulled off something rather historic: they will complete an entire regular season in which every scripted series either got renewed or had a pre-announced final season. It is a great outcome for the Renewology model this year; while many flipped to predicting an All American cancellation when it was not part of the net's initial mass renewal, Renewology does not have the ability to react to the news in such a way, and left it as the same modest favorite all the way. It's a good example of why there's something to be said for having this kind of "raw" portrait of each show's ratings situation, rather than leaning completely on other news, journalists' bubble watches, or your perception of the non-ratings issues.

Meanwhile, after two weeks as an underdog, In the Dark barely snuck over the 50% marker in the week before the renewal, then got another boost by holding onto 0.2 on a tough night this week. If you believe in the "win-loss record" (which I maintain is not a great way of judging these things), our luck on toss-ups seems to be turning back in a positive direction; after "missing" on The Blacklist and Dynasty, now we've seen both Good Girls and In the Dark sneak over 50% in the exact week before the renewal.

But this does perhaps invite a larger question on an existential scale: if the CDub is just going to renew everything, is it even worth trying to do predictions with this network? Do the ratings mean anything? I think the answer, for now, remains yes; you just have to be aware that the network is typically much more generous than the big four and factor that in. This has been the case for many years now. We don't know what goes into all these decisions, but you can still quantify that general sense of generosity just by looking at the ratings and the decisions themselves.

Maybe that means everything that is not an absolute giga-bomb has to be graded as a favorite, but that approach certainly worked this year on a bunch of shows that were weak but not as catastrophic as something like last year's Life Sentence. Are we going to see even the Life Sentence-level stuff get renewed in the future? Possible, but I need to see it happen first. If anything, what worries me most about the viability of a model like this is having things like viewing levels and un-rounded numbers less consistently; we're literally at a point where every hundredth of a point makes a meaningful difference in terms of R%. A show getting a 0.15 is probably an underdog, while a show getting a 0.2499 is probably a massive favorite, but when both print out as a 0.2, it can be tough to parse.

Since I've kept up with these weekly posts pretty well this year, I don't have as much fresh insight for a full week of network-specific renew/cancel posts as I have in the past during this week. So if you are really yearning for some content, I recommend stepping back and reading some of those old ones, but especially my most recent take on the Fox bubble and ABC 10:00 dramas. In general, I would say not a ton has changed since most of those writings! But what I want to do here is just spotlight a few shows that have taken a bit of a turn or turns since the last time I wrote about them.

Whiskey Cavalier43%0.680.670.69922%40%

Renewology hung onto Whiskey Cavalier as a renewal favorite for several weeks in a row, but finally had enough when the show dropped to 0.4 this week. You can never say never with the network that renewed For the People last year, but this performance really does make Whiskey look more like a FtP-esque reach renewal, rather than a legitimately deserving one. If it can work its way back to a 0.6 when the original comedies return this week, I would definitely not count it out. But I'm not totally sold it can even do that.

Life in Pieces64%0.820.850.78320%42%
Man with a Plan53%0.790.790.781121%42%

Life in Pieces was up a little in True by holding steady on a tough night last week, enough to put it on the positive side of the R% ledger. Its first week of DVR numbers have also, as predicted, looked a fair amount better than what Fam and Man with a Plan have been doing lately.  I'd rather have it than Fam, but the fact that it didn't premiere till the second half of April doesn't speak too well of CBS' opinion.

Meanwhile, I thought Man with a Plan might finally be cruising to life as a comfortable favorite in R% terms... then it crashed to 0.7 last week. Another performance like that tonight and it could well head into decision week as a short underdog.

The Code35%0.660.640.69314%43%
The Enemy Within23%0.640.640.74922%38%

With an uptick to 0.6 in week three, The Code got a bump from huge underdog to modest underdog... in other words, it now looks more like an Instinct-level reach, rather than a Wisdom of the Crowd-level reach, which could be significant. I still don't really think it has much chance, but if it can pull off another 0.6 tonight, we definitely have to concede it has not quite been the humiliation that appeared possible on its Tuesday preview night.

Another Monday underdog has been fading big-time in recent weeks; after getting up to a 48% in Renewology in week six, The Enemy Within took a big stumble against the NCAA basketball championship and has shown absolutely no signs of recovery in the two weeks since. This is pretty much where it looked like things were headed when it took the hard fall to 0.9 in week two, but a stronger version of the show appeared in the mid-section of its run. The show would really like that version to rear its head in tonight's episode.

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