Network Axes Falling Hard on Multicamera Comedies

ABC's 'Last Man Standing' and 'Dr. Ken' leave the network without a multicamera comedy for the first time in years as CBS' '2 Broke Girls' and 'The Odd Couple,' among others, could join them in the canceled category.
Cliff Lipson/CBS
"2 Broke Girls"

Multicamera comedies appear to be among the victims of this week's broadcast bloodbath.

This pilot season, the overall number of multicamera comedies that were picked up clocked in at seven (down almost half from a year ago) and, following a wave of high-profile cancellations and pilot passes, the tried and true format looks to be dwindling even further from its glory days.  

ABC, which kept Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing around for far longer than many thought, canceled the multicamera comedy from 20th Century Fox Television after six seasons. Also joining the canceled heap is second-year Dr. Ken, with the Sony Pictures Television entry airing on Fridays after Last Man for a nifty multicam blockABC, sources say, is redeveloping Carol Burnett family comedy Household Name (produced by Universal Television). That could mean ABC would enter the 2017-18 broadcast season without a single multicamera comedy on its schedule for the first time in years.  

Over at CBS, veteran comedy 2 Broke Girls is awaiting word on its future and it's not looking good for the Warner Bros. Television-produced multicam. The network is also poised to cancel its Matthew Perry-fronted reboot of The Odd Couple, while rookie multicam The Great Indoors, starring Joel McHale, is also considered likely to get the ax. That leaves Chuck Lorre's The Big Bang Theory and Mom, Matt LeBlanc's Man With a Plan, Kevin James' Kevin Can Wait and Superior Donuts as the network's only multicamera half-hours. (Even Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon is ditching the multicam format.) Of CBS' pilot crop, three are multi, two single and two are hybrids — with frontrunner 9J, 9K, and 9L a multicam.

Over at NBC, The Carmichael Show has yet to premiere and, despite critical buzz, has been on the bubble since it first launched. The same goes for fellow multicam Marlon, which has also yet to launch and has little buzz heading into its Aug. 16 premiere. Of the network's new series pickups, only its Will and Grace revival is a multicam. (NBC passed on Relatively Happy, its only multicamera pilot.)

As for Fox, well, the network was already out of the multicam business this season, and all six of its comedy pilots were single-camera. 

Multicamera comedies are less expensive to produce — a boon in an era of dwindling viewership and ad dollars — and faster to make, with Big Bang Theory currently ranking as TV's No. 1 comedy and having set a per-episode record with its syndication sale to TBS.

Keep track of all the broadcast renewals, cancellations and series pickups with THR's handy scorecard.

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