Who is getting a back 9?

It is fast approaching that time when networks must decide on the remaining shows they have yet to commit to a full season to, whether they will give them a back 9 order, or complete production at 13 eps and thereby cancel said show(s).  Most dramas in production are currently on episode 11 or so and will wrap in about a month on the initial 13, so in order that there is no stop in production, decisions will have to made shortly. (Also networks will have to figure out their midseason schedules, or at least their Winter schedules, by the end of the month, so that also factors into why the deadline is fast approaching). Below are my guesses (hopefully educated) on the status of all the shows with an undecided fate as of yet.


A Gifted Man – This is is the only CBS show in this category. On any other network this would have been picked up already. It’s getting roughly 8 million on a Friday night and no lower than a 1.2. Even last Friday, a hastily scheduled rerun got a 1.0 (almost its regular demo score) against game 7 of The World Series. If CBS is leaving a drama here (as opposed to reality like Undercover Boss), then I see them giving it more episodes as I’d imagine they will use The 2-2 on another night (Unless they move Unforgettable here and Person Of Interest goes to Tue at 10, so they can start a Thu comedy block). I also think they might use Undercover Boss on Sunday or Wednesday (or both nights) in between the Survivor and Amazing Race seasons.                                                   Verdict: My guess is it gets more episodes. At least 18 to get it through Feb/March


Grimm – Unless it completely tanks this week, will certainly get a pickup. Yes it has only aired for one week, but that one week was on Friday vs Game 7 of The World Series and did better than every other new drama they have aired this fall.                               Verdict: A full 22 and likely a timeslot upgrade

Prime Suspect – No one can say NBC didn’t try to make this work. I imagine Peter Berg and Maria Bello will say only nice things about NBC when they inevitably cancel this. But after a week full of reruns it got its lowest number-a 1.1. Before you say “well it was up against Game 6 of The World Series” – see the above paragraph. If NBC really wants to demonstrate they will support quality, I could see them giving it some kind of pickup but not a full 22.                                                                                                                           Verdict: Likely no pickup beyond 13, but I could maybe see Robert Greenblatt asking for 5 more for a total of 18, but I don’t expect a full season pickup.

Harry’s Law – Yes it hasn’t gotten above a 1.3 this season but it airs opposite the biggest hits on TV and has had zero lead in and regularly gets around 8 million viewers, a bigger audience than practically everything else on NBC. Obviously it skews much older than NBC would like, but 8 million is a nice number and they likely fall into the high income households David E. Kelly shows usually command. Plus NBC has an Oscar Winner in Kathy Bates starring on their network and like other DEK shows, he’s able to attract great guest stars. Plus the show’s ratings have been ridiculously consistent.                       Verdict: Yes, definitely. At the very least, this would be a great Friday show for them.

Parenthood – It has 18 epsisodes. It is NBCs Biggest 10p drama in the demo and their most critially acclaimed show. I don’t know how it hasn’t been upped to 22 eps yet, But I can’t imagine that’s not coming.


Once Upon A Time – only reason no pickup yet is because it has only aired twice. If the numbers are anywhere close to last week this Sunday, expect the pickup Monday. I could also see ABC asking for an extra ep or 2 and based on scheduling it can air repeat free all season. Here’s my thinking: It will likely only air 7 (or at most eight) eps before Christmas and there are only 2 available weeks in February (Super Bowl, Oscars). Depending on how ABC ends Desperate Housewives (I can see them airing a 2 hour finale in May with an hour clip show prior, second to last week of May sweeps) and the last week possibly the Billboard Awards like last year, Once will air repeat free all year. (Maybe even a 2 hour finale event).                                                                                                                   Verdict:Uh Huh

Happy Endings – Last week it got its highest numbers ever. The positive buzz is deafening. I thought the pickup would have happened this week.                                Verdict: A full season pickup, maybe 24 eps to go with the orders for ABCs other Wed hits: The Middle and Modern Family (maybe 24 for Suburgatory too which was already picked up for 22)

Last Man Standing – After 4 weeks and 5 eps, it got a 2.7 (and over 9 million viewers) last night, off only a tenth from last week. Doing better than anything ABC has had in this slot in years. A self starter. Could usher in another night of comedy for the net whose biggest Tuesday night successes have come from a lineup of 4 comedies in the 70’s, 80’s and 90s. If they greenlight the fast tracked Kirstie Alley MANZINIS for Spring, I could see them trying a 4 comedy block in March with a rerun of LMS and Work It in the mix. Verdict: Full season pickup coming any minute, likely 24 eps.

Man Up – Out of LMS’s 2.7 last night, Man Up had a 1.8 (even though HUT rise and DWTS offers some early pre tune in). Unlike the similarly badly reviewed LMS, Man Up has no obvious likeable star like Tim Allen and seems to have zero buzz.                   Verdict: No way it’s getting a pickup and wouldn’t be surprised if ABC aired a LMS rerun or Middle rerun for last 2 weeks of sweeps, though I can see ABC wanting to be fair and letting it get its due thru December. But come January, I expect Work It in this timeslot and despite critical derision, I expect it to hold a decent amount of LMS.

Body of Proof  – Probably the toughest call for ABC as you can tell they really want to pick it up. They understandably love Dana. She’s a star and she’s an ABC star having starred in China Beach (and won an Emmy for it) and for 3 years on Desperate Housewives. This show is getting more total viewers than any show they have aired in this slot since NYPD BLUE. Last Spring the demo wasn’t lower than a 2.1 even against THE VOICE. This season it’s coming in 3rd in the demo and Unforgettable on CBS is probably sharing more audience with it then The Good Wife was. In its favor, is that ABC nurtured Castle into a hit after a lower rated season and a half and the only procedurals that work for ABC are character driven ones like these two. Plus it reruns better than any other ABC drama. Also, unlike Castle’s first two seasons and BoP’s first season last Spring, it is following DWTS lowest rated season ever (including the results show) and despite that, it is holding more of it than any other show previously. Plus it’s consistent. Never below a 1.8. ABC is probably worried that it might drop even more after DWTS ends, like The Forgotten and Detroit 1-8-7 did, hence their understandable hesitancy.                                                                                                                               Verdict: Some kind of a pickup. Likely 18 eps, which in a way gives them a full 22. This  season so far has consisted of 4 leftover eps from last year (the last season 1 ep aired last night). But since they would only be in production for 18 they could wrap by March and air no reruns from Jan til DWTS starts and leads into a new drama (ABC has a few new drama options for midseason). Also if ABC does 4 comedies in Spring DWTS results would slide to 10.

Pan Am – This is the toughest one. The show is slickly produced and has a great cast, especially Karine Vanesse and I guess it’s been remarkably consistent these last few weeks at a 1.8, but unlike Body of Proof, total viewers is in the 6 million and 5 million range (BoP no lower than 9 but we don’t know how much of that is DWTS enhanced).  The other problem is the stories have had very little heft to them these last few weeks. According to reports, ABC has had Steve Meada (who has executive produced a number of high profile shows) come aboard to pitch what a back 9 would look like, indicating they are trying to make it work. I imagine he’ll up the drama substantially but will they wait? ABC also has a number of interesting drama prospects on the bench for midseason and may want to utilize the power of Once Upon A Time to add another new potential hit to Sunday, especially as DH prepares to exit                                                                                                               Verdict: My guess is it depends on what they hear or have already heard from Steve and I think they’ll also wait to see how the numbers are the next two weeks, before it goes on a two week break. Given their other drama options, I am gonna guess it doesn’t get more than a back 5 for a total of 18.

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2 Responses to Who is getting a back 9?

  1. forg9587 says:

    I think ABC will announce the back 9 pick ups for Happy Endings, Once Upon a Time and Last Man Standing all together and they are just probably waiting for Once’s Week #3 ratings. I hope Once continues to perform well. I think one between Pan Am and Body of Proof will get an additional ep order (like 5 episodes ala Detroit 187 and the forgotten). I think it will be Body of Proof because it’s procedural that has a potential to grow and to its credit DWTS was hitting series lows this season and it hasn’t dropped below 1.8 yet. It could still grow. Or perhaps they could use more eps for “gap programming” with the Apartment 23-Cougar Town 9-10pm block in January while waiting for DWTS. Unless Pan Am miraculously goes back to 2.0 it will be 13 episodes and done.

    1.2 for Friday is still too low for any network not called The CW so The Gifted Man will be 13 eps and gone.

    However, despite Harry’s Law’s 1.2 rating I think NBC will give it a back order and should be placed at 10pm where Harry’s older skew will be beneficial to its affiliates’ local news. It would be downright stupid for NBC if they don’t extend the order of Parenthood to 22.

    • bigtvfan says:

      All smart and excellent points, Forg. I think you’re right that ABC will likely pickup those 3 shows together. I expected Happy Endings earlier this week as the press would have given extra promotion to this weeks ep as they are preempted next week, but I think you’re right. You could be right about Pan Am too. I think they want to at least try to make it work because of all the talent involved in front and behind the scenes.
      Regarding A Gifted Man, if it did as well as Chaos last Spring, I agree, would be 13 and done. I think this is trickier for CBS as total viewers for a new show Friday at 8 (one a little off the normal CBS procedural beat) is very respectable. Its very consistent with potential to grow. Plus it reran close to original levels last week. Like I said, I could see a few more episodes as they might want to reward the talent behind and in front of the camera.
      I could also see NBC announcing a new timeslot for Parenthood for winter (some have suggested Thu at 10) and maybe then they will simultaneously an ep order upgrade – 22 or 24.

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