Cancellation Watch Sci Fi TV Preview

Fall 2013

Below I provide a brief look at each of the Fall 2013 season new and returning shows (links are to the show's official website where available) along with my pre-season Cancellation Alert status which gives my early estimation on the likelihood of whether a series will get cancelled.  You can read more about my thoughts on the upcoming season as well as a quick look at the shows I believe are facing rough waters and those I think can expect smooth sailing at this link.  You can see the full Fall 2013 schedule with premiere dates (along with the official descriptions of the new shows) at this link and you can follow my Cancellation Watch column each week at this link to see the latest ratings numbers and the current status of all the genre shows on the air. And for the quickest ratings updates, follow my Cancellation Watch Twitter Site

Cancellation Alert Status (least to most likely to get cancelled): Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High

ABC has been the most genre-friendly of the big four broadcast networks of late, and this season they have two returning series and two new entries. And they have had multiple science fiction/fantasy offerings each of the last several seasons.  Unfortunately, the network doesn’t always support these shows as well as it should with last season’s Last Resort and Zero Hour both getting killed by poor scheduling.   On the other hand, they did stick by The Neighbors last year despite its mediocre ratings (whether that’s a good or bad thing is open for debate).  At this point, I would say that at least three of ABC’s Fall entries have a good chance of surviving to renewal.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesdays 8 PM, Premieres Sept 24th):  This one looks like the current season's surefire hit.  It’s a spin-off from a billion dollar grossing movie, it has cross-genre appeal for sci fi/comics fans as well as the action/adventure crowd, and all the early buzz around it is very positive.  I usually don’t start out a new series at the lowest Cancellation Alert level because it’s always hard to gauge before it actually airs, but I did it last season with Arrow and I’m doing it again this year with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Cancellation Alert: Low

The Neighbors (Fridays 8:30 PM, Season 2 Premiere Sept 20th): I thought for sure that this aliens-among-us sitcom would face the axe pretty quick last year, but not only did it survive a full season, it got renewed as well.  Now it gets moved to low-viewership Fridays, but that’s not as bad as it seems.  Ratings expectations are low on that night and it has a decent lead-in from the Tim Allen series Last Man StandingThe Neighbors just may have found itself in a cozy little slot that will keep it going for several more seasons.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Once Upon A Time (Sundays 8 PM, Season 3 Premiere Sept 29th):  This fairy-tale-characters-meets-the-modern-world series started out its second season strong last Fall, but fell considerably in the ratings by the time it wrapped up in Spring.  But then that night saw all of the broadcast networks taking a hit as cable fired multiple salvos with ratings darlings like The Walking Dead, The Bible, and The Vikings.  And a third season renewal typically means that--short of a total ratings collapse--the network has essentially rubber-stamped a fourth to get it to a syndication-friendly count of episodes.  If Once Upon A Time can keep its numbers mostly in the mid-twos or higher, then it should be good to go for a fourth round.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (Thursdays 8 PM, Premieres Oct 10th):  This spin-off series which will focus on the Wonderland world already established in Once Upon A Time actually intends to tell a close-ended story that will wrap up at the end of its first season.  And that’s a good thing because this timeslot has been murder on genre shows for ABC (both Last Resort and Zero Hour fell there last season), and the network hasn’t had much success in the hour with any show for a while.  If it does beat the odds and pull decent ratings, the producers do have plans for additional storylines that they can explore in future seasons. 
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Catch Up on Last Season's Sci Fi Fantasy TV on DVD and Blu-ray:

This network has been the most genre-averse of late, with only one entry--that really only barely counts--going into the Fall season and it was the only sci fi offering on their schedule last year as well.  They do have the Josh Holloway starring Intelligence scheduled for mid-season, so there is that to look forward to, and I expect Person of Interest to stick around for a while.

Person of Interest (New Night, Tuesdays 10 PM, Season 3 Premiere Sept 24th):  This network’s sole genre entry has quietly built up into a consistently strong performer.  But for its reward, it gets kicked to a less favorable timeslot for its third season.  Though as I mentioned above with Once Upon A Time, getting that Season 3 nod generally means the network is already eyeing a fourth season. However, CBS is quick to pull the plug on shows they think are underperforming and has especially shown little patience with genre entries of late.  Still, I think it’s a pretty safe bet for renewal short of a ratings collapse.
Cancellation Alert: Low

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The CW
The fifth place network has for all practical purposes turned into the broadcast sci fi channel with genre entries occupying six of its ten scheduled Prime Time hours a week of programming in the Fall (though they tend to skew to a younger crowd).  And since this network seems content with ratings akin to those pulled by the basic cable channels, these shows have a much better chance of surviving on this channel (not so, though, with last year’s promising Cult which was yanked after only a few episodes aired).  That said, I have a hard time seeing Beauty and the Beast sticking around past the current season.  But the others face much more favorable odds.  That of course all depends on this network remaining viable which seems to come into question each season of late.

Arrow (Wednesdays 8 PM, Season 2 Premiere Oct 9th): This series performed strong for the fifth place network last year, though it dropped off later in the season.  But then so did all of that network’s shows (with the exception of Supernatural), so that’s not a huge concern.  Expect this one to cruise into a third season unless its network shutters it doors.
Cancellation Alert: Low

Beauty and the Beast (New Night, Mondays 9 PM, Season 2 Premiere Oct 7th):  Why exactly was this remake of the late-80’s CBS series renewed in the first place after the abysmal ratings it pulled last year in the lead-out slot from The CW’s highest rated show Vampire Diaries?  Is the network really that hard up to fill out the ten hours a week it programs?  And then they kick it to Monday nights this Fall where they have struggled for quite a while.  Maybe they think its numbers there will be no worse than what it had on Thursdays, and that’s good enough for them for that night.  But I sure don’t like its prospects going into its sophomore year.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

The Originals (Tuesdays 8 pm, Premieres Oct 3rd): I’m not a Vampire Diaries fan, but I’m still planning on tuning in for this spin-off series--that follows the “original” vampires from its parent series--because it looks somewhat intriguing.  But the question is, how many other viewers will decide to check it out as well?  Diaries has continued to experience audience attrition each of the last few years, and Tuesday has been anything but a powerhouse night for The CW of late (last Spring, Cult premiered on that night to the lowest debut ever for a broadcast network scripted show).  Still, it’s on The CW and they want to keep the franchise alive.  Plus, it can’t do any worse than Beauty and the Beast did last season--which still got renewed--can it?
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Supernatural (New Night, Tuesdays 9 PM, Season 9 Premiere Oct 9th): The CW seems intent on riding this one as long as possible like it did with Smallville.  And that’s alright with me based on its resurgence in quality over the last couple of seasons.  I usually whine prior to the beginning of the season that they should let it go out on its own terms (and hopefully they will by its tenth year like they did with Smallville), but for now this is my main guilty pleasure show and the network has to like it because it just keeps producing solid ratings; for The CW at least.
Cancellation Alert: Low

The Tomorrow People (Wednesdays 9 PM, Premieres Oct 9th): This remake of the British 70’s series about young people with special abilities gets a pretty good timeslot following last season’s solid performer Arrow.  But then lead-out slots don’t necessarily mean much at The CW (see the now-cancelled Secret Circle from two years ago that aired in the post-Vampire Diaries slot).  Still, I like its chances, especially on the fifth place network.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Vampire Diaries (Thursdays 8 PM, Season 5 Oct 3rd):  The CW’s flagship series has definitely slipped considerably from the ratings numbers it enjoyed in its first two seasons.  But it’s still the highest rated show on the network, for all that really means.  It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if they announced that the show will wrap up next season (2014-15).  They tend to do that with shows on the downswing (as they will with Nikita which gets a shortened final season to debut later in the year).
Cancellation Alert: Low

Official Shop of Warner Bros

This network parted ways with genre mainstay Fringe last season (after letting it go out on its own terms despite poor ratings) and now has only two new genre entries to offer for the Fall.  They both face some pretty stiff competition on Mondays, though, and they may not be as Prime Time friendly in concept as network executives would prefer, so don’t get too attached to either of these shows.

Almost Human (Mondays 8 PM, Premieres Nov 4th):  The most recent J.J. Abrams TV entry--about the near future when cops work with android partners--looks promising and has received some pretty positive early buzz.  But its timeslot is not one that FOX has had much success with in Fall since 24 exited from their schedule (The Following did decent in the hour last Spring, though it dipped when NBC’s The Voice returned to the schedule).  And Almost Human's late-Fall start could work against it as well.  I’m looking forward to this one, but worry that it may not draw enough non-genre interest to keep itself afloat.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Sleepy Hollow (Mondays 9 PM, Premieres Sept 16th):  This series--about Ichabob Crane travelling to the future and helping investigate foreboding supernatural occurrences--gets the Monday 9 PM timeslot to start out the season and has to contend right off with The Voice on NBC as well as CBS’ comedy block.  That, along with a concept that will be challenging for the typical Prime Time viewer to get their hands around, make the prospects for this one seem somewhat grim. 
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Catch Up on Last Season's Sci Fi Fantasy TV on DVD and Blu-ray:

This network has two returning shows and one new entry for Fall, and the Friday night shows look like they may establish a strong genre block for that evening.  NBC may also want to consider shifting Revolution to the 8 PM lead-in slot for that night because I don’t like that one’s chances in its current new timeslot.

Dracula (Fridays 10 PM, Premieres Oct 25th): NBC has finally made the smart move and found another series to take the genre friendly post-Grimm timeslot.  That latter show has continued to perform well on Fridays and the audience that tunes in for it just might stick around for a promising genre entry that follows in the next hour.  NBC has announced Dracula as a “limited run” series, but then they always build in the possibility for a continuation if the show does well in the ratings.  I’d say its chances are pretty decent at this point.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Revolution (New Night, Wednesdays 8 PM, Season 2 Premiere Sept 25th):  This post-apocalyptic J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke collaboration was a huge hit for NBC last season and helped improve the overall performance of that long struggling network.  During the first half of the season, that is.  Revolution dropped long and far by the end of the season and had many fans grumbling that it was too much of a mess to ever live up to its seemingly-promising original premise.  And now for the coming season, it gets booted out of its comfy post-Voice timeslot to lead the night on Wednesdays.  That’s a rather harsh move and the earlier hour won’t fit well with the darker tone that the second season will allegedly take.  As it stands, I don’t like this one’s chances of even making it past mid-season at this point.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

Grimm (Fridays 9 PM, Season 3 Premiere Oct 25th): This supernatural, monster-hunting series has become a rock for NBC on Friday nights and looks set to easily cruise into a fourth season. 
Cancellation Alert: Low has the Walking Dead

After the fairly recent successes of The Walking Dead (AMC), The American Horror Story (FX), and Game of Thrones (HBO), I would have expected to see more cable genre entries on the Fall schedule, but there’s not much in the way of new shows targeted for the coming months.  There’s plenty of development in the works among the premium and basic cable networks, though, so expect to see that number increase by mid-season.

The American Horror Story (FX, Wednesdays 10 PM, Season 3 Premiere Oct 9th): This series kicks off its third season--subtitled Coven--with yet another all-new story arc and with several returning actors from prior years (mostly notably Jessica Lange and Evan Peters, though no Zachary Quinto).  It’s numbers slipped some in its second season, but it still performed quite well for a basic cable series and I expect it to hold mostly steady through the upcoming season.
Cancellation Alert: Low

Atlantis (BBC America, Saturdays 10 PM, Premieres Nov 23rd): This fantasy series is looking to take up the torch from the BBC's successful sword and sorcery entry Merlin which wrapped up last season.  Atlantis is a co-production of BBC and BBC America and will premiere on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time.  I would expect it to meet with success similar to Merlin.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Haven (Syfy, Fridays 9 PM, Season 4 Premiere Sept 13th): The lone scripted entry--that I know of at this point--on Syfy’s Fall schedule actually struggled considerably in the ratings last season and I was surprised to see it get renewed then.  This one is more in the vein of the “sci fi lite” shows that the network preferred the last few years like Warehouse 13 and Being Human, and it may find itself left behind with the new direction Syfy seems to want to take evidenced by shows like Defiance and the upcoming Helix.  If Haven doesn’t improve its numbers considerably from last year, consider it a goner, or at best Syfy will throw it a shortened fifth and final season like they are doing with Warehouse 13.
Cancellation Alert: Medium

The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon, Fridays 7 PM, Season 2 Premiere Sept 13th): This Avatar: The Last Airbender spin-off is in no danger entering its second season seeing as it was originally intended as a mini-series but has now been given three additional seasons to tell its story.  Expect it to survive through that entire run.
Cancellation Alert: Low 

The Walking Dead (AMC , Sundays 10 PM, Season 4 Premiere Oct 13th): This zombie series--now entering its fourth season--set all kinds of records last year by becoming the most watched scripted series on television, the first time ever a cable entry earned that honor.  Can it keep improving on its phenomenal ratings performance?  Does it really need to?  This one is a lock for a fifth season and beyond.
Cancellation Alert: Low

Witches of East End (Lifetime, Sundays 9 PM, Premieres Oct 6th): Not to be confused with the short-lived 2009 ABC series Eastwick (based on The Witches of Eastwick), this Lifetime series is based on the Melissa de la Cruz novel of the same name that follows a group of witches living in a small northeastern town (wait, why is this not to be confused with Eastwick?).  Lifetime hasn’t offered much in the way of genre entries apart from 2008’s Blood Ties that ran two seasons and the fantasy/comedy/drama Drop Dead Diva so it’s kind of hard to gauge the chances of Witches of East End.  I’ll give it better than average odds of making its way to a second season, though.
Cancellation Alert: Moderate

For more information about the Cancellation Watch column and the ratings numbers in general, see the Cancellation Watch FAQ.  And for the ratings results for all shows currently airing, visit TV by the Numbers.

Why Were They Cancelled? 
The Plight of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television in the Face of the Unforgiving Nielsens and Networks

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Fall 2013 Pre-Season Cancellation Alert Summary 
Sorted by most likely to get cancelled, network, and series name

Series Network Airs (EST) Pre-Season Cancel Alert
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland ABC Thu 8 PM Medium
Beauty and the Beast CW Mon 9 PM Medium
Almost Human FOX Mon 8 PM Medium
Sleepy Hollow FOX Mon 9 PM Medium
Revolution NBC Wed 8 PM Medium
Haven Syfy Fri 9 PM Medium
Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 8 PM Moderate
The Neighbors ABC Fri 8:30 PM Moderate
Atlantis BBCA Sat 10 PM Moderate
The Originals CW Tue 8 PM Moderate
The Tomorrow People CW Wed 9 PM Moderate
Witches of East End Life Sun 9 PM Moderate
Dracula NBC Fri 10 PM Moderate
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC Tue 8 PM Low
The Walking Dead AMC Sun 9 PM Low
Person of Interest CBS Tue 10 PM Low
Legend of Korra CN Fri 7 PM Low
Arrow CW Wed 8 PM Low
Supernatural CW Tue 9 PM Low
Vampire Diaries CW Thu 8 PM Low
American Horror Story: Coven FX Wed 10 PM Low
Grimm NBC Fri 9 PM Low

2012-13 Season Scorecard
Sorted by final status, network, and series name

Series Network Final Status 2012-13 Season
666 Park Ave ABC Cancelled
Cult CW Cancelled
Do No Harm NBC Cancelled
Last Resort ABC Cancelled
Zero Hour ABC Cancelled
Touch FOX Cancelled
Hannibal NBC Renewed
The Neighbors ABC Renewed
Defiance Syfy Renewed
Nikita CW Renewed
Once Upon A Time ABC Renewed
American Horror Story FX Renewed
Arrow CW Renewed
Bates Motel A&E Renewed
Beauty and the Beast CW Renewed
Being Human Syfy Renewed
Game of Thrones HBO Renewed
Grimm NBC Renewed
Haven Syfy Renewed
Person of Interest CBS Renewed
Revolution NBC Renewed
Supernatural CW Renewed
The Following FOX Renewed
The Walking Dead AMC Renewed
Vampire Diaries CW Renewed
Fringe FOX Final Season


  1. Well all the shows are good displaying in the list here. But in my view ‘The Tomorrow People’ is the one of the best sci fi shows. This show has a long running series and ruled over the audience since a long time. Every time it brings a lot of fun within its new series.

  2. I’m really enjoying the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I absolutely love the world of superheroes and supernatural phenomena. With what’s happening in the world now we really need superheroes.
    sci fi tv shows