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

Monday, October 22

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Housewarming" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Dave and Gemma decide to invite the Butlers to their housewarming party. However, when everyone but Calvin accepts, Dave decides he’s finally had enough of Calvin’s refusal to welcome him to town.

Happy Together - "About Your Parents" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Claire gets sick, Jake is determined to prove that he can take care of her without relying on her parents, Bonnie and Gerald.

Andi Mack - "It's a Dilemma" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Andi's plans for a group outing with Buffy, Cyrus and Jonah are interrupted by Walker; Bowie's new guitar student proves to be a challenge; Cyrus seeks an alternative to P.E. and ends up in a dance class.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 22)

Monday, October 22

  • Juliette Lewis (Camping/A Family for Joe/I Married Dora) - Watch Juliette on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Sarah appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Scott Bakula (Murphy Brown/Eisenhower and Lutz/Gung Ho) - Scott drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Dakota visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Craig Robinson (Ghosted/Mr. Robinson/The Office) - Craig stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Mary McCormack (The Kids Are Alright/Welcome to the Family) - Mary drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith (A Different World) - Jada talks about the Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Finesse Mitchell (A.N.T. Farm) - Finesse visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show/Here and Now/Malcolm and Eddie/Listen Up!/Reed Between the Lines) - Malcolm-Jamal appears on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
  • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on People Now at 12pm.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico is a guest on the BUILD Series at 12pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest