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That soft sound you hear isn’t a sweet, springtime breeze dancing with budding foliage. It’s the sharpening of guillotines across Hollywood, as TV executives prepare to trim the proverbial fat before announcing the next pack of (let’s face it, mostly doomed) hopefuls for the 2016-17 TV season.
Yes, in these days of low expectations, it’s become increasingly hard to cancel a broadcast series — but it still happens. Most of the bad news will come down in the coming week. To best prepare for the inevitable, The Hollywood Reporter has narrowed down the list to 10 shows that aren’t likely long for this world and makes a case for why each can easily be shown the door.
1. Agent Carter (ABC)
Marvel’s second series at ABC has critical support but little else. The period drama, which moved to Hollywood in season two, hasn’t even measured up to mediocre Agents of SHIELD with its 1.4 rating among adults under 50 and 4.3 million total viewers with DVR. Additionally, star Hayley Atwell has already booked the lead (in first position) in buzzy procedural Conviction, which has been looking good for a series order, and Marvel has SHIELD spinoff Most Wanted poised for a series pickup as ABC will likely ditch Paul Lee’s “gap show” strategy that made Agent Carter a viable short-order run.
2. Bordertown (Fox)
Animation is judged by a different set of standards, but Fox’s latest Sunday entry is a ratings bummer by any measure. Shuffled since its little-promoted premiere, Bordertown is only netting a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 (in live-plus-7 returns) on a block that typically performs much better with the younger set. Sure, the network and studio 20th Century Fox TV aren’t keen to upset executive producer Seth MacFarlane — but it’s not like he doesn’t have his hands full.
3. The Catch (ABC)
The Shondaland drama, which took over How to Get Away With Murder‘s position in the prime Thursdays at 10 p.m. slot, was behind the eight ball from the start. With a showrunner change, the series was redeveloped as insiders had problems mapping out a future beyond the pilot. Since launching in March, the series has averaged a respectable 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 8 million viewers, but it’s off dramatically from Murder.
4. Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life (Fox)
Picked up for a full season before its debut, the comedy about a misfit group of 20-somethings never caught on. The series was pulled from its Sundays at 8:30 p.m. slot and relegated to 7:30 midway into its run before being completely preempted in late April. Its scant 2.2 million total viewers are just going to have to find another way to survive.
5. Heartbeat (NBC)
The opportunities for puns are endless, but this one genuinely never had a pulse. Likely hurt by its push to midseason, NBC’s Grey’s Anatomy-esque medical drama has pulled low ratings from the start and garnered absolutely zero buzz. And, with just a 1.1 rating in the key demo after DVR, the fact that it can’t beat fellow time slot occupant The Mysteries of Laura seems to say it all.
6. Galavant (ABC)
The Dan Fogelman-created comedy was a favorite of Lee and few others, with an unimpressive 0.9 among adults 18-49. What’s more, Fogelman exited ABC Studios for a lucrative overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television and star Joshua Sasse booked the lead in CW pilot No Tomorrow — in first position.
7. Game of Silence (NBC)
The first two words of the title were so promising, but bad reviews and bad ratings ensured that this NBC drama was D.O.A.
8. The Muppets (ABC)
Picked up to series after a short pilot presentation and rushed to a fall premiere, The Muppets started the season with can’t-miss status after earning a rare standing ovation at San Diego Comic-Con. The premiere topped Fox’s heavily promoted Ryan Murphy anthology Scream Queens in head-to-head competition despite a wave of lackluster reviews, but subsequent episodes stumbled creatively as critics continued to take issue with the show’s depressing stories. Picked up for only three additional episodes, the co-creator was forced out and new showrunner was tapped to reboot the reboot. The series returned after the holiday break to a string of ratings lows, finishing its freshman season with an average 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 with live-plus-7 data.
9. Grandfathered or The Grinder (Fox)
If John Stamos and Rob Lowe were both drowning, and you only had one life preserver, which dark-haired charmer would you save? Fox faces a similar question in deciding the fates of Grandfathered and The Grinder, two struggling comedy vehicles for the respective stars that almost certainly won’t both be on the schedule next season. If the network is feeling generous, it could very well save one, but even that’s a tough call. Grandfathered has a slight edge with ratings, but The Grinder has done a better job courting critics. This is as close to a coin flip situation as one gets.
10. Rush Hour (CBS)
In the confusing words of Meghan Trainor, “My name is no. My sign is no. My number is no.” This is the TV treatment nobody asked for and, now that it’s on the air, apparently nobody wants. The ratings are weak, and synergy-happy CBS doesn’t even own the Warner Bros.-produced show. Just … no.
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