The realm of American television is overcrowded, competitive and cutthroat.
Pilot season typically churns up and spits out handfuls of hopefuls and even those that hit the mark aren’t guaranteed half a season, let alone a full one.
The American networks have just released their programming schedules for the next year and a heap of big shows have been cancelled, proving just how high the stakes are.
Even NBC, the network known for its mega-hit comedies like Friends and Seinfeld, is feeling the heat.
The former stalwart has relegated its two remaining comedies (Undateable and People Are Talking) to Friday night, cementing the death of its iconic Thursday night ‘Must See TV’ staple.
The pressure of it all has prompted many networks to stick to what they know – trumpeting mainstay comedies (The Big Bang Theory) and reality shows (The Voice) or rebooting old favourites like The Odd Couple, Coach, Full House and The X-Files.
The coming months are a confusing time for someone to come out of a 20-year coma.
Change comes in the form of the non-traditional viewing platforms who are unafraid to take the risks the giants won’t.
After NBC rejected Tina Fey’s comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it found a comfortable home – and critical acclaim – on Netflix.
And sardonic comedy Community was nixed by NBC after five seasons but it skipped over to Yahoo Screen and gained a whole lot more creative license.
So where does that leave us, the audience? We’ll be forced to farewell a handful of favourites, embrace some edgy newbies and brace for the return of John Stamos in all his glory.
Here’s the state of play…
Bye, bye baby
Along with the conclusion of longtime hits Glee, The Mentalist, Two and a Half Men and Parks and Recreation earlier this year, you can say goodbye to:
American Idol: The hit reality show will end its dream run next year after 15 seasons, allowing The Voice to fully exert its dominance. Australian Idol ended in 2009 after seven seasons on air.
The Mindy Project: Mindy Kaling’s romantic comedy series has been ditched by Fox after three seasons but, in the way of Community, is rumoured to be heading to streaming service Hulu.
Revenge: The Hamptons-set drama will finish after four seasons on ABC. Despite a stellar start, the drama lost traction thanks to its convoluted plot line.
Hart of Dixie: Rachel Bilson’s sugary sweet rom-com about a doctor practicing in the deep South has been dropped from The CW and, subsequently, Fox 8 in Australia.
To be continued
No one will be surprised to hear that Modern Family, Family Guy, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy are all locked and loaded for another season.
Some slightly more exciting renewals include:
Last Man on Earth: Fox has renewed this high-concept, post-apocalyptic comedy for a second season. It will come to Australia in the second half of the year, screening on the ONE network.
Jane the Virgin: This surprise success, about a highly religious woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated, saw its lead actress Gina Rodriguez win an Emmy – the first ever major award for its network, The CW. No surprises they were quick to renew it.
Empire: The Fox’s family drama about a hip hop dynasty was a runaway success hailed for its racial diversity, punchy script and vibrant ensemble cast. It’s returning for a second season and you can watch it locally on Channel Ten.
New Girl: The solid comedy has gotten a fifth season over at Fox, but it has been moved to a January start date, rather than a fall debut. This could be to secure an uninterrupted run for the popular sitcom, or so show runners can figure out how to grapple with lead actress Zooey Deschanel’s burgeoning baby bump.
The X-Files: The highly anticipated reboot of the 1990s sci-fi series has an air date: January 24, 2016. The show will air on the Fox network and will see the return of its two original stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, as protagonists Mulder and Scully.
Blindspot: This NBC mystery follows a beautiful anonymous woman discovered in Times Square with no idea who she is or where she’s come from. Like a television version of Memento with a female lead (Jaimie Alexander).
Heroes Reborn: Remember Heroes, the sprawling, dark superhero series from 2006? It’s coming back. NBC’s remake will feature old cast members and new additions and is a chance for creator Tim Kring to redeem himself after a lacklustre final series.
The Grinder: Already being praised as a surefire success, this Rob Lowe-lead Fox comedy follows an ex-TV lawyer who decides to take his limited on-screen expertise into a real courtroom. It’s got Fred Savage from The Wonder Years and a trailer full of laugh-out-loud moments. No concrete release date yet, but it’s probably worth staying tuned.
Fuller House: Netflix has taken on the huge responsibility of reviving 1980s icon Full House, with 13 John Stamos-produced episodes coming in 2016. No word yet on whether the Olsen twins are on board.