Friday, May 18, 2018

Fri-Yay: How Did Sitcoms Fare at the Upfronts?

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

by Vincent

ABC
Renewed: Roseanne, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Speechless, American Housewife, Splitting Up Together
Cancelled: The Middle (ending), Alex Inc, The Mayor
New Sitcoms: The Kids Are All Right, Single Parents, Schooled (mid-season)

ABC's strong roster of sitcoms remains almost entirely in tact, with only freshman series Alex Inc and The Mayor getting the ax, while The Middle ends its nine-year run with a planned series finale this spring (airing this coming Tuesday night). This comes as no surprise. ABC has the strongest roster of sitcoms on all of the big 4 networks, and its line-up also has significantly more depth than any other network's sitcom roster- no other network can say they seven sitcoms that have reliably performed well for them. The network's drama slate, however, is far less sturdy, so ABC has wisely expanded its comedy block to a third night - Speechless and Fresh Off the Boat will move to Friday nights, reinstating a comedy block there just a year after the network blew it up by cancelling Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken. Some may see this as a downgrade for Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless, but comedy has done well on Fridays on ABC in the past, so fans shouldn't see this as a death knell. That said, both of these shows have generally been "bottom-of-the-hour" performers with decent-but-not-stellar audience retention from their anchors, so it will be interesting to see how they do on an island on Fridays.

The Tuesday and Wednesday blocks are fairly similar to what they were this spring. Roseanne gets its 8 PM Tuesday slot back and leads into new comedy The Kids Are Alright (pretty much the best timeslot you can ask for as a new sitcom), while the black-ish/Splitting Up Together hour remains in tact at 9 PM. On Wednesday, The Goldbergs and Modern Family remain the 8 and 9 PM anchors, respectively, while American Housewife shifts up to 8:30 and newbie Single Parents gets the 9:30 slot. With so many hours devoted to sitcoms and plum timeslots for their freshman comedies, it's clear ABC is going big on sitcoms next year - and they have good reason to.

CBS
Renewed: The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, Mom, Life in Pieces, Man With a Plan
Cancelled: Kevin Can Wait, Superior Donuts, Living Biblically, Me Myself & I
New Sitcoms: Murphy Brown (revival), The Neighborhood, Happy Together, Fam (midseason)

CBS had a rather mixed year in the sitcoms department. While The Big Bang Theory remained huge and spin-off Young Sheldon had a big debut season, the network saw its Monday sitcom line-up completely deteriorate, with all four shows struggling to even hit a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo for most of the season. The network responded by cancelling the entire block with the exception of Man With a Plan (which was somewhat surprising, given that Kevin Can Wait was generally the block's highest performer), cutting half of the block and slotting in two new sitcoms, The Neighborhood and Happy Together, in the only two slots that remained. Leading off a night with two untested new sitcoms is a big gamble, especially when those sitcoms don't have any particular buzz around them. The network does have Life in Pieces and Man With a Plan left unscheduled, perhaps as emergency back-ups if either of those sitcoms fail. Even more interesting is that the previously announced Murphy Brown revival has been buried to 9:30pm on Thursdays rather than used as an anchor, showing that CBS doesn't seem to have faith it can be a Roseanne or even a Will & Grace-sized player. CBS's sitcom block had a lot of uncertainty this year, and that continues into its 2018-2019 line-up.

NBC
Renewed: Will & Grace, Superstore, The Good Place, AP Bio, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (acquired from Fox)
Cancelled: Great News
Fate TBD: Champions
New Sitcoms: I Feel Bad, Abby's (midseason)

NBC's return to its "Must See TV" comedy block on Thursdays went pretty decently this year, even if the Will & Grace revival couldn't keep up its early momentum and shows like Champions and Great News hit some cringe-worthy numbers. The network has a solid pairing in Superstore and The Good Place, and hopes to keep that brand of comedy going with Michael Schur-produced Abby's and the newly acquired Brooklyn Nine-Nine midseason. Amy Poehler-produced I Feel Bad gets the post-Will & Grace slot in the fall, and NBC hopes it will find more of an audience than its freshman comedies this season did, even if AP Bio mananged to squeak out a second season that its ratings didn't exactly call for. NBC still has a long ways to go before they relive their Must See TV sitcom glory days, but it certainly has the building blocks of a solid comedy roster, which is why the acquisition of studio-owned Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes perfect sense and should be a good fit with its sitcom block.

Fox
Renewed: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers
Cancelled: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (moving to NBC), New Girl (ending), The Last Man on Earth, The Mick
Fate TBD: Ghosted, LA to Vegas
New Series: The Cool Kids, Rel, Last Man Standing (revival)

If ABC has banked on sitcoms next season, Fox has done exactly the opposite, wiping its entire live-action sitcom slate clean (unless Ghosted or LA to Vegas manage to pull through) and renewing only its animated anchors. After Fox cancelled all of its veteran sitcoms and revived Last Man Standing, there was a lot of chatter about the network's new direction and how its sitcom slate would likely favor broad, conservative-friendly comedy like Last Man Standing. That didn't really happen - yes, the Last Man Standing/Cool Kids block kind of looks like that, but it's relegated to Friday nights, the network's lone live-action sitcom block. This does make sense given that Last Man Standing spent most of its ABC run on Friday nights and did fairly well there, but it's still a bit of a surprise after all of the buzz around the revival. The network's only other new sitcom other than The Cool Kids is Rel, which doesn't even get the plum post-Simpsons slot and instead gets shafted to 9:30. The post-Simpsons slot instead goes to Bob's Burgers, which is an interesting move - given that The Simpsons and Family Guy are aging while Bob's Burgers has steadily been gaining momentum, is it possible they're prepping Bob's to be their new animated anchor? Regardless, this line-up certainly shows just how little confidence Fox has in its comedy brand right now, and it certainly screams "this is a network going through a major conglomerate change."

So, once again, the future of sitcoms largely depends on what network you're watching. Nevertheless, there's certainly a lot of sitcoms to look forward to next fall, both new and returning series alike. It'll be interesting to see how the networks' line-ups fare, but we'll have to wait until the fall to see what happens!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, February 21

The Big Bang Theory - "The D&D Vortex" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When the gang finds out Wil Wheaton hosts a celebrity Dungeons and Dragons game involving William Shatner, Joe Manganiello, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Smith, deception and betrayal are the path to make it to the one open seat.

Young Sheldon - "A Loaf of Bread and a Grand Old Flag" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Things spiral out of control when Sheldon boycotts his favorite bread company. Also, Georgie offers Veronica a shoulder to cry on when she’s dumped by her boyfriend.

Mom - "Skippy and the Knowledge Hole" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy finds it challenging to quit smoking, while Bonnie helps Tammy prepare to take the GED test.

Fam - "Drunk in Love" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
During their engagement party, Clem and Nick are both shocked to learn that the other has been keeping an embarrassing secret about how they met.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Honeypot" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jake and Holt clash over the merits of a new hire in the 99th precinct. Terry, Amy, Rosa and Charles try to do something about the cluttered bullpen.

Will & Grace - "The Pursuit of Happiness" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Grace (Debra Messing) is enlisted by Malcolm (guest star Alec Baldwin) to help him win back Karen's (Megan Mullally) affections. Will's (Eric McCormack) flirtation with his co-worker, Paul (guest star Barrett Foa), takes a turn when details about Paul's home life put Will in an ethical dilemma. And Jack's (Sean Hayes) run-in with Zusanna (guest star Andrea Martin), the sister of his former acting teacher, reignites Jack's passion for performing.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 18

Thursday, February 21

  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Catch Ken on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • James Spader (The Office) - James stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kal Penn (Deadbeat/We Are Men) - Kal visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Chris O'Dowd (Family Tree) - Chris is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Mark Duplass (Togetherness/The Mindy Project/The League) - Mark appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Reba McEntire (Reba/Malibu Country) - Reba drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Finesse Mitchell (A.N.T. Farm) - Finesse is a panelist on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Bill Pullman (1600 Penn) - Bill appears on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place) - D'Arcy will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February)

Fuller House - The Complete Third Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season The Game - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season

01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest