NBC has decided to spare fans a bit of un-due agony by announcing the renewal of five dramas - Revolution, Grimm, Chicago Fire, Parenthood, and Law and Order: SVU - weeks ahead of the announcement of their full fall schedule. Each show will return next season with a full 22 episode run.
Though never really assured of a renewal before, none of these shows seemed to really be "on the bubble" or otherwise in danger of cancellation, especially on NBC, a network in need of consistent performers, and in particular, freshman success stories.
One of those success stories, Revolution, is the top rated new drama among the key demos, and the show's youthful audience surely helps to maintain good buzz, something that doubtlessly helped keep the serialized series alive after a long mid-season hiatus, a break that arguably helped kill ABC's serialized drama Flash Forward a few years ago.
Speaking of FlashForward, that show, and countless others like The Event, The River, and V, have all failed to catch and hold audiences' attention like Revolution has, earning it a place as one of the few so-called "Lost clones" (serialized shows with a central mystery that seem vaguely reminiscent of Lost) to find any kind of sustained success. Though "sustained" may not be adequate just yet.
It would be fair to say that Grimm's success is veering toward the land of "sustained" with its consistent dominance on Friday nights, dominance that has surely been aided by the absence of Fringe, which departed at mid-season. Overall, Grimm is up 12% since last year, and while it is not known if Grimm could find the kind of success that ABC's Once Upon a Time has on a night other than the Friday graveyard, I wonder if NBC might want to take it for a spin to find out when they announce their full schedule.
Like Grimm, Parenthood is another NBC show that has grown, up-ticking 8% among both the key demo and in total viewers. Produced by Friday Night Lights alum Jason Katims, the show will enter its 5th season in the fall, which means that it will - somewhat surprisingly - be NBC's 2nd most senior drama series, behind only its renewal buddy, Law and Order: SVU, which will enter its 15th season in the fall.
SVU wasn't producer Dick Wolf's only bright spot with today's announcement, though, he is also the force behind Chicago Fire, NBC's other freshman success story. That show doesn't get the same attention as Revolution, but it has performed well on Wednesday nights, narrowly beating fellow freshman series Nashville on a pretty regular basis while besting its own series premiere rating eight times.
What will join these shows on NBC's schedule is the big question, though. While the network got out in front of things by announcing these renewals, they are curiously silent with regard to bubble comedies like Community, Parks and Rec, and Go On, which is surprisingly NBC's top rated sitcom.
More curious, though, is the absence of a decision on the heavily promoted mid-season drama Hannibal, a show that debuted strong only to falter as of late.
With that said, NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke did say in today's press release that:
There will be more returning series announcements made in the next couple of weeks.
And as I said, NBC needs consistency and success stories, particularly to undermine the assumption that they are a network adrift and that they are unable to develop successful scripted programming. What better way to undermine that assumption than by nurturing even the slightest embers of success and bring back shows with a less than obvious case for renewal in the hopes that they continue to grow? It's a strategy that has clearly worked with Grimm and Parenthood, so maybe the bubble won't burst for NBC's other shows. Or maybe I'm giving them way too much credit.
Revolution, Grimm, and the rest of NBC's returning line-up will premiere in the fall 2013.