One of the early questions every fall, as the new TV season kicks off, is what will happen first—the season's first cancelation or its first full-season pickup (when a network moves beyond the original 13-episode order for a 22-episode run)? This year, the latter came first when NBC ordered nine more episodes of Blindspot, fall's No. 1 new show among adults ages 18 to 49, averaging a 2.7 rating.
Soon after NBC's announcement, Fox trimmed the episode order of the lowest-rated new series in the demographic, Minority Report (which is averaging a 0.9), from 13 episodes to 10. While the network says it plans to keep the flailing show on Mondays at 9 p.m. for its remaining seven episodes, those plans could change if the series drops any lower than last week's anemic 0.7 rating (which only rose to a 1.0 in live-plus-three numbers).
Three weeks into the season, these are the new shows most likely to join Blindspot in getting picked up for full seasons along with those, like Minority Report, that are least likely to make it beyond their initial order:
Quantico: ABC's FBI drama accomplished something no other new series has done this fall: It grew its second-week audience in live-plus-three (from the first episode's 3.1 to 3.3 for the second), after impressively holding 100 percent of its live-plus-same-day audience (1.9) from week one to week two. Now, ABC will have to nurture this into a hit, meaning immediately getting it far away from its tanking lead-in Blood & Oil (see below), which pulled Quantico to a 1.6 last night. But with a 1.8 average and solid delayed-viewing numbers, the show should receive a full-season pickup shortly. Update: ABC did indeed pick up the show for a full season on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Limitless: Like Quantico, this CBS drama was the only other show to keep its live-plus-same-day ratings in week two (1.9), though it did slip slightly in week three to a 1.7. Its 1.9 average in the 18-49 demo is higher than any other CBS drama at 10 p.m., so this one is in it for the long haul.
The Muppets: Bill Prady's 10-year effort to get the Muppets back on prime time paid off with a huge debut (2.9). And while that number has declined alarmingly (down to 1.7 by week three and now averaging a 2.2), ABC will take the long view on this one and give it more time.
Rosewood: The drama had the smallest buzz of any Fox show coming into the fall season but has become the highest-rated of the network's five new series, averaging a 2.1 so far, no doubt thanks to viewers tuning in for its lead-out show, Empire. Though Rosewood's soft live-plus-three lifts (only 0.4) indicate that it doesn't have a passionate fan base, the Empire halo is more than powerful enough to keep Rosewood around for a full season. Update: Fox announced Rosewood's full-season pickup on Friday, Oct. 16.
Dr. Ken: Ken Jeong's sitcom, based on his life as an actual doctor, was one of the fall's worst-reviewed new shows but has found an audience on Friday night—its 1.4 rating is better than its lead-in, Last Man Standing (1.2), and outpacing last year's Cristela. NBC would do anything for those numbers from its own Friday sitcoms (see below), so ABC should keep Jeong around.
Life in Pieces: In one of fall's most-protected time slots, airing after The Big Bang Theory, Life in Pieces is averaging a healthy 2.2 rating. While that's a 46 percent drop-off from Big Bang's 4.1, it's also the best post-Big Bang show the network has put on in years. CBS will give Life time to find its legs.
The Player: NBC's Thursday night woes continue, as the Wesley Snipes drama is averaging a 1.0 and dropped to a 0.9 last week. The only thing keeping it on the air might be the lack of any other shows to put in the time slot, because audiences have already rejected it.
Blood and Oil: Quantico's Sunday night success is making Blood and Oil's struggles even more apparent, as the show plummeted to a 0.8 last night, losing half its Once Upon a Time lead-in, and pulling Quantico to its lowest numbers yet. Given the show's behind-the-scenes turmoil and the network's need to nurture Quantico, ABC will need to pull the show or move it out of the time slot as soon as possible. Either way, it won't be upping the episode count.
Scream Queens/Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris/Heroes Reborn: None of these shows will be getting larger episode orders this season no matter how successful they are. Scream Queens (averaging 1.5) was always intended to be a closed-ended 15-episode anthology series. If it goes forward, next season would feature a new story line and new characters. Neil Patrick Harris' contract for Best Time Ever (1.8) specifies an eight-episode first season. The show's biggest test comes tomorrow night as it moves from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. and loses its cushy Voice lead-in. NBC penciled in Heroes for 13 episodes, but the show tumbled from a 2.0 debut to a 1.2 last week (for a three-week average of 1.7). Of the three shows, Scream Queens has the best shot at a return. Its debut-week ratings jumped 82 percent in live-plus-seven to a 3.1.
Truth Be Told: This NBC show doesn't even premiere until Friday, but it already seems doomed. It's the worst new show of fall, and its lead-in, Undateable, returned Friday with just a 0.8, a shockingly low debut for NBC's sole returning comedy, which is airing live all season in an attempt to energize ratings. (Undateable was only given a 13-episode order this season, making its chances for a full-season pickup similarly slim if it doesn't improve on that 0.8.) Its time-slot competitor, Dr. Ken, has already established a foothold on Fridays, meaning the odds are already against Truth Be Told.