Can anyone blame us for wanting to scream, “Told you so,k @#$!ers!”
Didn’t think so.
by Rob Owen
For the 2015-16 TV season, TV shows with familiar titles were the big bet by the major broadcast networks, but it’s one that didn’t pay off.
With next week’s debut of CBS’s “Rush Hour” (10 p.m. Thursday, KDKA-TV), based on the 1998 Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan movie, we’ve pretty much made it through all the series based on IP (aka “intellectual property” in Hollywood speak).
A paint-by-numbers action-comedy starring relative unknowns Justin Hires (“21 Jump Street) and Jon Foo (“Tekken”) in place of Mr. Tucker and Mr. Chan, “Rush Hour” feels like a ghost of CBS action-procedurals past (think: “Martial Law,” circa 1998-2000). But no matter, it has a familiar title, which is the sort of life preserver network executives love.
But this TV season proves that if a TV show doesn’t have the goods, having a familiar title alone is meaningless. Or worse, it can hurt a series because a known title comes with too-high viewer expectations.
Fox’s “Minority Report” flopped right out of the gate last fall, and ABC’s “The Muppets” saw its audience dwindle, leading to a creative retooling midway through the season.
Perhaps that’s why scanning the network development charts for the 2016-17 TV season there appears to be less emphasis on known titles. To be sure, there are still some: ABC has another Marvel series (“Marvel’s Most Wanted”); CBS offers a new “Nancy Drew” and NBC may add a fourth Chicago-set series from producer Dick Wolf, “Chicago Law.”
So what trends can we ferret out from the pilot orders for 2016-17? Family comedies are big (again!), and “Making a Murderer” and “The Jinx” have inspired a raft of crime drama pilots.
Of course, these are just pilot trends. We won’t know if these pilots actually become TV series trends until the networks announce their 2016-17 schedules in May. That’s also when viewers will learn the fates of TV shows in limbo, an increasingly smaller number of prime-time series that have been neither kept nor canceled….