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Published April 18 2013

Benshoof: It might be RIP for new shows on ABC, NBC and the rest

These days, the fortunes of new shows on network television seem to be sinking faster than the Titanic.

That’s been pretty evident over at USA Today, where the newspaper has been running its annual “Save Our Shows” feature, which lists TV shows reportedly on the brink of being canceled. Readers are then asked to vote for the show they want to save.

All of the shows on the list air on ABC, NBC, CBS or the CW, and most are new, having debuted within the last year or two.

Shows like “Golden Boy” and “Happy Endings” might not have such a happy ending in store. NBC’s “Go On” may not, in fact, go on much longer. Even CBS’s “Vegas,” starring Dennis Quaid, is in trouble.

Apparently it’s true that what happens on “Vegas” stays in Vegas, since nobody tunes in to watch.

The networks’ biggest failure has arguably been their inability to create new shows that stick. Their biggest successes, based on Nielsen ratings, have been programs that have been around for several years.

Comedies like “Modern Family” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and crime dramas like “Criminal Minds,” “Person of Interest” and “Castle” are big hits week in and week out.

Given that it’s these established shows, rather than new shows, that viewers watch, I have an idea: Instead of networks trying risky and creative ideas to compete with fan favorites like “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad,” why not just embrace a formula that works?

What I mean is this: Haphazardly mash together the premises of their most successful existing shows and hope that they stick.

Here, I’ll give you a couple of examples (network executives, you can thank me later):

For ABC, “Modern Family” meets “Castle:” “Three different but related families tag along in their uniquely comedic ways with an NYPD homicide investigation team for research purposes.”

On CBS, how about “Person of Interest” meets “The Big Bang Theory” “meets “Criminal Minds.” “A software genius and an ex-CIA operative who move into an apartment across the hall from an elite group of profilers that analyze the nation’s most dangerous psychopaths show them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.”

Given a chance, I have a feeling that those two shows could turn into television ratings gold.

And if they fall flat and get canceled right away, they’d at least have plenty of company.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535