It’s that time of year at the broadcast networks, as executives screen new pilots and start plotting their fall schedules. That means shows “on the bubble” – the ones that still haven’t been handed their fate – will also find out soon whether they’ll be back for another season.
We’re not taking any chances. Before the networks unleash their new lineups (set to be announced the week of May 15), IndieWire’s TV team has picked the six series on the chopping block that we’d most advocate trying to save. From comedy to drama, our message is clear: SAVE THESE SHOWS.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” picked the right week to make its strongest case yet for staying on the air. Tuesday’s episode, “Moo Moo,” tackled racial profiling in a way that felt true to the show, delivering a thoughtful half-hour while still making plenty of time for jokes about two grown men eating cake for dinner. It was a pivotal week for Show Terry, making a principled decision over career expediency, but it was also further proof that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” continues to be an excellent forum for Terry Crews’ talents. Outside of the unique approach to this week’s episode, this is still a show that cares about its characters and a comedy that builds its laughs on real love and affection. All the crime-of-the-week plot mechanisms, interoffice banter and clothing-based sight gags are still there. Now that the comedy has shown that it can have all those while juggling some real-world issues, this would be a horrible time for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to suddenly leave the air.
“The Catch” (ABC)
If you haven’t given “The Catch” Season 2 a chance, you have missed out on some of the most fun being had on broadcast TV right now. Shondaland’s sexy funny caper series has proven itself to be rich with delights — and not just thanks to the relationship between private investigator Alice Vaughn (Mireille Enos) and con man Benjamin James (Peter Krause), who have incredible chemistry and are the source of some truly great banter. With the addition of cast members John Simm (hamming it up delightfully as Benjamin’s gleefully bisexual partner) and Gina Torres (everyone’s favorite badass), the show has found its voice and frankly seems to be living its best life, having a fantastic time playing footsie with legal living. “The Catch” is gleefully escapist TV, and the value of that can’t be undersold.
“Fresh Off the Boat” (ABC)
Just this week, the City of Los Angeles declared “Fresh Off the Boat Day,” recognizing the show’s positive portrayal of Asian Pacific Americans in mainstream media, and helping kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Clearly, the City of Los Angeles gets it, and ABC should too. “Fresh Off the Boat” has evolved from its initial focus on young Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) to the entire family – including, most notably, the relationship at the center of the show: Jessica and Louis Huang, played by Constance Wu and Randall Park. Loving, quirky, challenging and hysterical at the same time, the Huangs are worth a weekly visit. “Fresh off the Boat” also gets bonus points for continuing to embrace its late 1990s timeline, featuring references this season to the deaths of Tupac and Biggie – as well as the 1996 presidential election. (We’ll even forgive Emery for being a Dole supporter.) Every generation deserves a show set 20 years into the past, and for our times, it’s “Fresh off the Boat.”
To be frank, we need a Batman story in 2017-2018 that’s not pissing all over the character’s legacy. As Zack Snyder’s big screen abomination tramples through theaters, spreading lies about Bruce Wayne’s penchant for vengeance and love of automatic weapons, “Gotham” needs to set the record straight for a generation of fans. Bruce is a kid robbed of his family by gun violence, and the only thing holding his life together are his principles. Those principles have been dynamically represented by James Gordon, as Ben McKenzie’s cop tries to clean up the streets before they get bad enough to need help from the bat. How “Gotham” brings both stories together is admirable, fun, deeply respectful of Bob Kane’s creation. To take that away from fans now, as “Batman vs. Superman” and “Justice League” forsake basic morals for easy action, would be the lowest of blows — and who knows how much it would damage an icon of good.
“iZombie” (The CW)
The premise of a crime-fighting zombie who solves murders by taking on the personality of the victim’s brains she eats (obtained through the morgue) is delightful on its own. And Rose McIver delivers a gleeful, committed take on each personality week-to-week, whether she’s channeling a fratboy, a hacker, a sociopath, a magician and most recently, a dominatrix. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright bring their “Veronica Mars” cred to reach beyond the procedural element and transform this show into a sneakily heartfelt series with a deft hand at relationships and examining the poignancy of life and death. Add to that a lively supporting cast and a facility for deploying plentiful death-related puns, and this a zom rom com that The CW would be wise to keep on its schedule. It offers a genuine and upbeat voice in a crowded, angst-ridden TV landscape. And do we really need yet another DC superhero show?
“The Last Man on Earth” (Fox)
Criminally underrated, perhaps because it’s on broadcast TV, Will Forte’s consistently surprising and subtly bold Fox comedy has only been getting better since Season 1. Many critics noted how the show’s slight shift in Season 2 toward making the titular Tandy (Forte) more likable not only elevated the show’s entertainment value, but also opened up the series to creatively fresh possibilities. And in Season 3, Tandy and Carol’s (Kristen Schaal) relationship has blossomed into one of TV’s most uniquely charming love affairs (now that we’re not openly judging her for standing by him), and the friendships he’s formed — and failed to form — have allowed for more in-depth stories about Todd (Mel Rodriguez), Melissa (January Jones), and Gail (Mary Steenburgen). The relationships have never been stronger, the stories never more innovative, and the show never — you guessed it — better. Don’t stop them now. More, more, more!