With upfronts fast approaching it’s been a busy week for TV news, but Friday kicked things to a whole other level with a flurry of renewals, cancellations, and pilot pickups. You can find comprehensive lists of everything that happened pretty much anywhere on the Internet, but where else are you going to find a partial list featuring rankings and occasionally snarky commentary? Nowhere else, that’s where.
Without further adieu, let’s count down the top-5 most interesting TV developments from Friday:
5) CBS passes on Beverly Hills Cop, NBC passes on John Mulaney.
Predicting pilot pickups is a fool’s errand, but arguably the second and third most high-profile pilots of the season (we’ll get to #1 next) were surprisingly passed on by their respective networks. The ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ remake, spearheaded by Shawn Ryan (‘The Shield’, ‘Terriers’) and Eddie Murphy, was expected to be a sure-thing pickup, but CBS took a pass in favor of what appears to be more drab, grim crime procedurals. Hey, if it works, it works. We all know that not much is working for NBC these days, so you’d think the peacock would jump at the chance to lock down a rising star comic with ‘SNL’ ties like John Mulaney, but nope: NBC passed on what pretty much everyone in the know agreed was the funniest comedy pilot this season. Here’s hoping Mulaney follows Mindy Kaling away from the cursed grounds of NBC and towards the greener pastures of, well, anywhere else.
4) S.H.I.E.L.D. is a go.
ABC engaged in no such high-profile pilot shenanigans, officially ordering ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, the ultra high-profile show set in the Marvel universe. Joss Whedon co-wrote and directed the pilot, and all eyes will be on this show when it makes its debut next season.
3) Hold on, we’re not done piling on NBC.
You really have to love NBC…at least like you’d love your drunk uncle. After boldly declaring that “broad” comedy was the wave of the future last fall, the network pulled the plug on its two new pillars of broad comedy on Friday after just one low-rated season apiece. “New Normal” figured itself out to some extent as its freshman season went on, but it was too little too late for an audience that was mostly alienated by the ghastly run of episodes it started with. And “Go On,” the likable Matthew Perry vehicle, met its maker despite being generally well-received. Oh, and once-loudly-trumpeted ‘Smash’ also came to a fiery end, though that was a mercy killing.
But you know what NBC DIDN’T cancel? Oh, just old reliable ‘Parks and Recreation,’ and the unnamed king of niche comedy that occupies the top spot on this list. Congrats on your makeover, NBC!
2) ‘Southland’, ‘Happy Endings’ are done
Friday wasn’t all fun and games at NBC’s expense, though: two actual honest-to-goodness great shows came to an end. TNT’s cop drama ‘Southland’ kicked things up about 10 notches in recent seasons, but never gained the attention or ratings it deserved. And ABC’s beloved and hopelesslly low-rated comedy ‘Happy Endings’ was set free to search for a ‘Cougar Town’-like deal with a cable network. C’mon TBS, you can do it!
1) ‘Community’ is coming back.
Yay..ish? The Save Community campaign has been running strong for what feels like forever now, and by golly, it appears to be working. Whether that’s a good thing or not is a thornier issue. If ‘Community’ had been canceled after three seasons (as many expected), it would have ended in a blaze of glory, going out following one of the most wildly different and memorable seasons in TV history. This year, with the much-publicized departure of Dan Harmon, the show returned to mixed reviews, though most seem to agree that the spark of imagination behind the show has at least dimmed considerably. The universally-panned finale would have been a terrible note to end the series on. At the same time, even the most passionate communie has to be a little worried about what’s in store next season.
But hey, today we learned that there WILL BE a next season – and for many, that’s plenty of reason to celebrate.