Tube Talk: The mighty and the fallen: New fall series either sink or swim

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

The new fall season has barely begun, and the ax has already fallen.

Luck wasn’t on the side of ABC’s drama about a group of co-workers whose lottery ticket was a big winner, Lucky Seven. Unless you’re talking about its odds of being the first new show to be axed. It was canceled after its second-episode ratings failed to improve on its dismal debut.

I’m not certain which shows will be the next to fall, but a few likely candidates could include the following:

• FOX’s Dads — A great cast, including Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull and Peter Riegert, and its executive producer is Seth MacFarlane, but the show is in such poor taste it’s not even funny.

• CBS’s We Are Men — Another solid cast with Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn, Jerry O’Connell and Christopher Nicholas Smith, but early episodes didn’t have enough heart to make up for the raunch. But it’s got a good timeslot amid CBS’s Monday night comedy lineup, so it could be around a while.

• ABC’s Betrayal — The buzz on Betrayal is that it simply didn’t generate the Revenge-like intrigue its ad campaign implied.

One new series not dreading the programmer’s ax is FOX’s supernatural drama, Sleepy Hollow. Just a few episodes into the season, and it’s already been renewed for a second season. If a show built around the idea of Ichabod Crane waking up in 2013, pursued by the Headless Horseman and encountering witches, demons and other supernatural shenanigans is so quickly renewed, maybe it will encourage other producers to take some fun risks in developing their series. Sleepy Hollow isn’t a show with big-name stars to draw viewers, but British import Tom Mison as Crane, and Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills, are so good together they keep viewers coming back each week.

NBC’s Blacklist, starring James Spader as a charismatic criminal mastermind, may prove to be long-struggling NBC’s saving grace. Its strong ratings quickly overshadowed CBS’s highly-touted Hostages (a “limited-series” political thriller with a great cast led by Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott and Tate Donovan), which airs opposite it. No wonder NBC has already ordered a full season of Blacklist.

I hope the success of Blacklist doesn’t put Hostages on the chopping block, but sometimes scheduling is everything. For every good series canceled because it was stuck in a bad timeslot, there are two bad — or at least marginal — shows that survive.

A good show in a difficult Thursday night timeslot is The Michael J. Fox Show, which is holding its own, ratings wise. It’s family friendly, funny and co-stars Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt as Fox’s character’s wife, but NBC’s Thursday night comedy block doesn’t offer a solid lead-in, as it continues to struggle against CBS’s Thursday night line-up, which kicks off with The Big Bang Theory.

Before too long, we’ll have a clearer picture of which series will be around and which are doomed to the chopping block.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the Oct. 9-15, 2013, issue

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