“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” and “The Rookie” topped USA TODAY’s 24th annual Save Our Shows poll, by a wide margin.
With nearly 80,000 votes counted, 52% wanted “Zoey’s” – NBC’s dramedy about a woman who hears others’ thoughts through choreographed songs – to get a third season. The show also won last year’s poll, with a record 67% support; this time around, just 13% hoped it would be canceled. ABC’s “Rookie,” starring fan-favorite Nathan Fillion as LA’s oldest newbie cop, was extremely close behind: 51% want it back, and just 8% would cancel it.
In third place with 38% support was NBC’s newest “Law & Order” spinoff, “Organized Crime,” which marks the return of Chris Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler. Fox’s medical drama “The Resident” and ABC soap “A Million Little Things” – both especially popular among women – rounded out the top five, with roughly a third of voters seeking their return.
“Zoey’s” and NBC’s “Good Girls” also were dominant among younger voters, while older folks’ top picks included CBS’ “SEAL Team,” “S.W.A.T.” and “All Rise.” (“Good Girls” has been especially popular on Netflix.)
At the bottom of the pack were Fox’s dysfunctional family comedy “The Moodys,” which also had the most tepid support last year; CW’s “Stargirl” and two freshman CBS comedies produced by Chuck Lorre, “B Positive” and “United States of Al.” Just 13% sought a return for those two sitcoms, and only 7% wanted “The Moodys” back for a third season.
And two comedies – Fox’s “Call Me Kat,” starring Mayim Bialik, and Dwayne Johnson’s autobiographical “Young Rock” – were most disfavored by voters: 21% wanted “Kat” canceled, more than for any other show in the poll, while 19% wanted to retire “Rock.”
“Organized Crime,” “Al” and a few of the 23 other shows “on the bubble” between renewal and cancellation were simply too new to establish a track record: Both series premiered April 1, just days before the poll began. (Others, including ABC’s “Rebel” and “Home Economics,” premiered after and were not included.) The “Law & Order” spinoff seems a lock for renewal.
But in another unusual year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, renewal decisions and plans for replacement series haven’t hewed to the typical mid-May calendar for unveiling the 2021-22 network TV schedule – and the fate of these shows – to advertisers.
Among the 25 shows on the poll, “Rock” and fellow NBC comedy “Kenan,” along with CBS drama “S.W.A.T.,” were picked up for new seasons last month. CBS’ “MacGyver” remake was canceled and finished its run on Friday. (Most had modest support in the poll; “S.W.A.T.” was most beloved, by 31%.) CW renewed “Stargirl” earlier this week. Last year, just seven of the 19 “bubble” shows returned for new seasons; an eighth, ABC’s “Stumptown,” was renewed but then dropped in the wake of pandemic production delays.
Networks consider many factors in deciding whether to renew or cancel a series: TV and (increasingly) digital ratings from delayed viewing; profitability; ownership; and whether it’s creatively thriving or sputtering. Despite the social media-fueled boost in fan engagement, petitions and polls aren’t at the top of the list. But sometimes they can be effective in gauging passion for shows that are far from runaway hits: NBC abruptly reversed its cancellation of sci-fi series “Timeless” in 2017, its then-chief programmer credited Save Our Shows for his decision. (It won the poll that year, and the next, leading to a finale movie.)
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester