TV Renewal and Pilot Announcements: ‘Life in Pieces’, ‘The Exorcist’, and an ABC Bloodbath

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Week Two of the TV renewal announcement post was originally going to be a light piece but then Thursday happened with a flurry of news that was happening so fast it was like the real life version of Mr. Krabs meme. Now that the dust has settled for now, let’s take a look at what is happening in the TV world.

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“Life in Pieces” (CBS)
“Criminal Minds” (CBS)
“Supergirl” (CBS moving to CW)
“American Crime” (ABC)
“Dr. Ken” (ABC)
“The Catch” (ABC)
“The Real O’Neals” (ABC)

Analysis: “Criminal Minds” is back for its billionth season, proving that there’s nothing that Americans love more than formulaic crime shows on CBS. The “Life in Pieces” renewal isn’t surprising but still nice to see given the talent of the actors involved. According to Deadline, it’s one of just a couple of single-camera CBS comedies to get to a second season since the end of “M*A*S*H*” in 1983 and the first in more than 2 decades, since ‘Brooklyn Bridge” ran for two seasons from 1991-1993…which is wild. I pontificated about “Supergirl’s” renewal last week and I had a good feeling about it getting renewed and honestly, I’m glad the show is moving to the CW. Given how they’re choosing to tell the story and the demo it serves, this was a no brainer change of networks. The best news from these announcements is that “American Crime” is coming back for a third season after delivering an amazing second season of television. It was a tough wait and given the drama at ABC, not the surest thing, but now fans of the show will have time to prepare their spirits before the new season.

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“Agent Carter” (ABC)
“Nashville” (ABC)
“Castle” (ABC)
“The Muppets” (ABC)
“Galavant” (ABC)
“The Family” (ABC)
“Grandfathered” (FOX)
“The Grinder” (FOX)
“Bordertown” (FOX)

Analysis: Waiting to see what would hit the axe this week was like the best social media reality show. The shows that ended up cancelled aren’t really that surprising (save for maybe “The Grinder” which I thought had enough star power to last). “Galavant’s” cancellation is sad, but the fact that show got one season let alone two is a miracle. “The Castle” cancellation has many fans of that show actually breathing a sigh of relief, given the drama that surrounded Stana Katic’s “leaving” the show. Of the shows that have been dropped this year, the “Agent Carter” cancellation hurts because the show had actively righted many of the issues from the first season and proved to be a fun in-between a season show for ABC. But those looking for a Hayley Atwell fix will get it with “Conviction.” And finally, has there been a more disappointing end to something than “The Muppets” being cancelled? I know it was a forgone conclusion given that the quality of the show was a mess, but “The Muppets” will always hold that nostalgia factor for many, so its tough to see it meet this end.

Pilot/Series Pickup
Netflix
In keeping with trends, Netflix has acquired a film and is turning it into a TV show. In their case, they’ve chosen a Sundance hit “Dear White People” to make a 10 episode series, with writer-director Justin Simien in tow to adapt the material. Having thoroughly enjoyed the film, I’m interested to see how it will translate to a half hour comedy setting.

ABC
Are yoy ready? ABC has greenlit the following shows to series: “Still Star-Crossed,” “Notorious,” “Imaginary Mary,” “Time After Time,” “Conviction,” “Downward Dog,” and “The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport” to series. The shows on the list that have the most heat are “Time After Time,” which comes from Kevin Williamson and sees H.G. Wells transported to modern-day New York to track down Jack the Ripper.  “Still Star-Crossed,” a Shondaland production about what happened in Verona after Romero and Juliet died, and “Conviction,” one of the most hyped pilots of the fall about Carter Morrison (Hayley Atwell), the brilliant but ne’er-do-well daughter of a former president, who is blackmailed into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit.

CW
The CW, in addition to adding “Supergirl,” is sticking with the comics and IP type shows with ordering “Riverdale,” “Frequency,” and “No Tomorrow.” “No Tomorrow” is about a risk-averse, straight arrow, female procurement manager at an Amazon-like distribution center falls in love with a freewheeling man who lives life to the fullest because he believes the apocalypse is imminent, which sounds…just fine. “Frequency” is an adaptation of a New Line Cinema film from 2000, about a female police detective in 2016 who discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father who died in 1996. I can’t recall the film in the slightest, which could work wonders for the TV show as it will be divorced from any lingering feelings (see: “The Exorcist” at Fox below). “Riverdale” is the show everyone has been talking about and apparently the pilot tested incredibly well and a revamped Archie could be interesting.

FOX
Fox has ordered several shows to series including the time travel comedy “Making History” (which stars Adam Pally and Leighton Meester), “The Mick,” “APB,” “Pitch” which is about MLB’s first female major leaguer, and adaptations of “Leathal Weapon” and “The Exorcist.” Fox also gave Seth MacFarlane’s live action outer space dramedy a 13 episode order.

Biggest upside: “Pitch,” as baseball is America’s pastime and stories about women playing baseball tend to be pretty awesome.
Biggest risk: “The Exorcist,” which in no way shape or form can be better than the film which was nominated for 10 Oscars. But good luck!

NBC
NBC has greenlit a trio of projects: The Good Place starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, Trial and Error, a serialized half hour legal spoof show about a young defense attorney and his oddball defense team during a high-profile murder trial in a small Southern town, and finally Powerless, starring Vanessa Hudgens as a member of a team of exceedingly average employees at an insurance company and their quest to find their own power. Powerless makes the seventh DC show that will air next year, pending Supergirl’s renewal. Trial and Error intrigues me the most because it’s rare that a broadcast network will greenlight a serialized comedy and its said to be a comedic take on the murder trail documentaries like Making a Murderer.

FX
The biggest news to come out of TV land was the announcement that Ryan Murphy has yet another anthology series on air, with Feud bringing his total to four (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and Scream Queens being the other three). The FX show is going to take a look at the famous rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, as played by Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, respectively. Though Ryan’s involvement in something will always give me pause, he handled The People vs. OJ so brilliantly that I think he’s earned some benefit with tackling real life subject matter in an anthology format.

What are you excited about?  Sound off in the comments below!