Well, we’re hitting that moment in the network television season when the axe really starts to fall on the shows, new and old, that are teetering on the edge of ratings extinction. This season’s slate of new programming isn’t totally thrilling us — though in our office there’s a rising tide in favor of Dracula — but there are a couple of stalwarts in trouble, not to mention a few shows we’d like to see overhauled, if not sent entirely to permanent-hiatus jail. Here they are.
1. Parks and Recreation
This one’s a bit of a fake-out, actually. After a flurry of excitement a few weeks ago, the consensus currently holds that Parks and Recreation will be OK, in spite of the fact that NBC unexpectedly pulled it from its Thursday lineup for a month. Adam Scott reassured everyone on Twitter that it was fine. The show returns next week, and episodes just got pushed to air later because of The Voice juggernaut. Everyone breathe.
My beloved Reign is floundering, you guys. America is just not responding to evil Queen Anne of Green Gables. I know that it’s historically inaccurate and I know that it is basically a Tudors ripoff, but look, the dresses are really pretty, and in my overly cerebral, excessively articulated life it is a point of succor for me and I really want it to survive. Zap2it’s Cancellation Bear says it’s probably safe from the brink, but let’s rally, now.
3. Trophy Wife
Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern’s series has started to grow into its own in the last couple of episodes. It’s getting a lot more comfortable with wordplay, which makes it sort of like a Modern Family for the Joss Whedon-reared, Internet-dwelling set. The show’s been backordered for the rest of the season, meaning it’ll make it at least to the end of Season 1. But if you want it to stick around, it’s time to start tuning in — a typical episode pulls in about four million viewers right now, and that’s not enough.
I have a soft spot for this treacly-but-not-too-sweet show, partly because it has Peter Krause in it, and Peter Krause reminds me of all things Six Feet Under, and then there’s Lauren Graham. But also, it just fulfills this sort of fantasy I have of having been raised by middle-class people in beautiful Craftsman bungalows in Northern California who have a big family dinner every once in a while. Its ratings, which have never been blockbuster-amazing, have been going down steadily since this season’s premiere. Last week just three and a half million people watched. And I suspect, given all the marquee names in the show, and its huge ensemble, it’s not among the cheapest to produce.
Nashville was, for its first ten or so episodes last year, one of my favorite shows on television. I know people like to turn to things like Revenge for their soapy needs, but there is just something about a show set in Nashville and centered on dueling divas that rings my cowbell, as it were. This season, so far, has been near unwatchable, because instead of sticking with the fun of the first few episodes the producers evidently decided to go soap. And now, the ratings are punishing them for it: they’ve been sliding all season, and are down from last year’s so-so showing. It’s depressing that Callie Khouri might not have the chance to turn the ship around in a third season.
6. The Michael J. Fox Show
The Michael J. Fox Show is an odd case; it isn’t exactly good, not yet. In spite of what I thought was a really strong pilot, the writing’s been all over the place since then, usually offensive, and not in that good-offensive HBO kind of way, but in the Two and a Half Men kind of way. Still, I advocate for its survival with a single request: fire the showrunner over Christmas and put it on the shelf for a couple months and find someone who wants to put the considerable talents of the show’s cast to better use. Please, God. Don’t let Fox go out this way.
7. The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project is Fox’s lowest-rated comedy overall, even though my sense is that it’s still a bit of an internet darling and The Atlantic Wire agrees with me on that score. It’s hard to say what’s gone wrong with this one, because of course everyone loves Mindy Kaling, and it doesn’t seem like network meddling is the culprit. Maybe it’s just that Kaling’s vaunted admiration for high-nonsense romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail are gonna bite her whenever she’s given a chance, as here, to write herself straight. We’re still rooting, but faith is definitely fading.