On the surface, it looked like a typical Tuesday night on Twitter. There was less sports chat, of course, and the political conversations were more single-minded than usual, but for the most part, things proceeded apace. Which is to say, the Season 4 finale of NBC’s celebrated weepie “This Is Us” remained top of mind for many a TV fan, all of whom seemed to have a take on elements of the episode. Whether it was raging about a big fight or marveling over a character reveal, for a moment all was right with the world.
But soon enough the bubble burst and things returned to the still tentative new normal of the last few weeks. Too soon, both broadcast and cable TV will have to deal with the very real fallout of an industry shutdown: a lack of new material.
While it’s lovely that every episode of “This Is Us” was in the can before the disruption of production schedules were initiated, as days and weeks pass, the TV schedule will run into more and more series that weren’t able to complete filming on the whole of their season. Word of several shows in this very situation has already surfaced, including NBC’s own “Superstore,” which has been dealt an additional blow, after announcing recently that star America Ferrera would be leaving after the Season 5 finale. The sitcom is said to have completed filming on all episodes except for the finale, a reality complicated by the fact that Ferrera is currently pregnant, and it remains unclear when production across Hollywood will resume.
In other situations, it’s not just unfinished production spurring schedule disruptions. “The Walking Dead” has postponed its finale indefinitely — yes, because of interrupted filming, but also, one would think, because the episode was supposed to serve as the lead-in to the newest spin-off in the “Walking Dead” franchise, “Walking Dead: World Beyond.” Trying to launch a new series without a strong foundation from a TWD season finale would be a fool’s errand, something AMC is likely well aware of.
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Similarly, while TNT’s yet-to-premiere “Snowpiercer” has completed filming on the entirety of its first season and still stands to premiere on May 31, the series will likely feel the pain of a postponed NBA season. Typically, the early rounds of the NBA playoffs — not to mention the weeks-long and high-rated NCAA tournament that precedes them — would present plenty of TNT ad time for the series, directly to a captive audience made up of people “Snowpiercer” would love to make viewers. Plus, production has been halted on Season 2 of the series, raising a question that even “This Is Us” viewers must be pondering at this point: What about next season? How long of a delay will be foisted on fans anxious to get new content from their favorite series? And why didn’t Netflix film four seasons of “The Witcher” at a time?
For more on the remote black hole that is the upcoming television schedule and the swirling miasma of anxiety that is the unclear Emmy season, check out this week’s episode of “Millions of Screens” with TV Awards Editor Libby Hill, TV Deputy Editor Ben Travers, and Creative Producer Leo Garcia — recorded from the comfort of their three respective apartments. Thanks social distancing!
“Millions of Screens” is available on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with the crew on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Review the show on iTunes and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the gang address specific issues in upcoming editions of “Millions of Screens.” Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on iTunes right here.
This episode of “Millions of Screens” was produced by Leonardo Adrian Garcia