2016: TV’s New Obscurities

The start of the new year means it’s that time again. Time to look back at the short-lived TV shows that came and went during the previous year. This is my ninth annual list of new obscurities. It includes every scripted TV show that aired 13 episodes or fewer on one of the broadcast networks during 2016. That means no cable or streaming programs.

The current 2016-2017 season has yet to see a single official cancellation, although a few new fall shows are clearly not coming back next season. The verdict on many others is still out. You’ll find eight fall shows on this list. If all of them are ultimately cancelled, that will mean 2016 birthed a 24 new obscurities, up from 15 in 2015, but down from 29 in 2014. There were 17 in 2013, 20 in 2012, 17 in 2011, 18 in 2010, 19 in 2009, and 16 in 2008.

New fall shows I’m predicting will be cancelled are Son of Zorn (FOX), Notorious (ABC), Pitch (FOX), The Exorcist (FOX), Conviction (ABC), No Tomorrow (The CW), Frequency (The CW), and Pure Genius (CBS).

New fall shows I’m predicting will be renewed for 2017-2018 are Kevin Can Wait (CBS), Bull (CBS), This Is Us (NBC), Designated Survivor (ABC), Lethal Weapon (FOX), Speechless (ABC), MacGyver (CBS), Timeless (NBC), and American Housewife (ABC).

I’m not confident that The Good Place (NBC) will return but I hope it does. I’m not ready to call it a new obscurity quite yet. As for Timeless (NBC), Man with the Plan (CBS), and The Great Indoors (CBS), they may or may not be back next season but either way they will all produce more than 13 episodes this season.


Bordertown (FOX) – 13 episodes
January 3rd – May 22nd

I barely remember seeing promotional spots for this animated sitcom. I didn’t watch it.

Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life (FOX) – 13 episodes
January 3d – June 26th

My love of quirky sitcoms has come up several times on Twitter. I watched every episode of Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life and enjoyed them all.

Angel from Hell (CBS) – 13 episodes
January 7th – July 23rd

CBS originally planned to debut this sitcom in November 2015 but instead opted to debut it in mid-season. I had high hopes for the show that were not quite met but the cast worked well together. I liked it more than Maggie Lawson’s previous sitcom Back in the Game (ABC, 2013). The two-part finale was nearly perfect until the “shocking” cliffhanger ending.

Second Chance (FOX) – 11 episodes
January 13th – March 25th

FOX has burned me too many times in the past with sci-fi dramas so I gave this one a pass.

You, Me and the Apocalypse (NBC) – 10 episodes
January 28th – March 31st

I admit to being very confused by this British dramedy on multiple occasions. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and far too many plots running at the same time. That said, the ending left me wanting more.

The Family (ABC) – 12 episodes
March 3rd – May 15th

This one came and went without me noticing. I don’t think I even some promotional spots for it or, if I did, they left absolutely no impression.

Of Kings and Prophets (ABC) – 9 episodes (7 unaired)
March 8th – March 15th

ABC yanked this drama off the air after just two low-rated episodes. As I recall, it was endlessly promoted yet I have no idea what it was about. Did ABC go through with its plan to release alternate episodes online with graphic content not suitable for broadcast? The unaired episodes have been seen internationally.

Crowded (NBC) – 13episodes
March 15th – May 22nd

I gave up on this sitcom after two episodes, despite sticking with Patrick Warburton’s previous sitcom (Rules of Engagement) for its entire run. Why didn’t I keep watching Crowded? I can’t remember.

Heartbeat (NBC) – 10 episodes
March 22 – May 25

I’m not opposed to medical dramas but nothing about this one intrigued me.

Rush Hour (CBS) – 13 episodes
March 31st – August 20th

I’ve never see any of the movies and I didn’t watch the TV show, either.


Game of Silence (NBC) – 10 episodes
April 12th – June 5th

This drama looked incredibly depressing. Was it?

Containment (The CW) – 13 episodes
April 19th – July 19th

Skipped it.

Houdini & Doyle (FOX) – 10 episodes
May 2nd – July 4th

I almost watched but decided not too at the last minute for reasons I can no longer remember.


BrainDead (CBS) – 13 episodes
June 13th – September 11th

Uncle Buck (ABC) – 8 episodes
June 14th – July 5th

American Gothic (CBS) – 13 episodes
June 22nd – September 7th

I applaud the networks for offering a handful of scripted originals during the summer but none of these interested me.


Son of Zorn (FOX) – 13 episodes [still airing]
September 11th, 2016 – Present

There are four episodes left to air and I’ll be watching. Ratings are low but FOX may surprise everyone and renew it. Update: Cancelled!

Notorious (ABC) – 10 episodes
September 22nd – December 8th, 2016

This was my prediction for the first cancellation of the 2016-2017 season. ABC trimmed the show’s initial 13-episode order but has yet to officially declare it cancelled.

Pitch (FOX) – 10 episodes
September 22 – December 8th, 2016

FOX only ordered a 10-episode first season and I watched all of them. At times, there was too much soap opera drama. Ratings were incredibly low so I’ll be shocked if FOX renews it.

The Exorcist (FOX) – 10 episodes
September 23 – December 16th, 2016

Again, FOX only ordered 10 episodes. Again, ratings were incredibly low. Again, if FOX renew it, I’ll be shocked..

Conviction (ABC) – 13 episodes [still airing]
October 3rd, 2016 – Present

I was bummed when ABC cancelled Agent Carter and decided to give this legal drama a shot because it stars Hayley Atwell. It’s not terrible but it’s not great, either. ABC has announced it isn’t ordering additional episodes but so far hasn’t officially declare it cancelled. Update: Cancelled!

No Tomorrow (The CW) – 13 episodes [still airing]
October 4th, 2016 – Present

My favorite new show of the 2016-2017 season by far. I love it even though at times I wonder if it would work better as a half-hour comedy than an hour-long dramedy. The CW has announced it isn’t ordering additional episodes but it hasn’t officially declared the show cancelled. I doubt it will get renewed for a second season. Update: Cancelled!

Frequency (The CW) – 13 episodes [still airing]
October 5th, 2016 – Present

As a huge fan of the 2000 film this drama is based on, I really looked forward to the premiere. It didn’t hook me as much as I though it would but I’m still watching and still hoping for some sort of resolution rather than a frustrating cliffhanger. Like No Tomorrow, The CW isn’t ordering additional episodes but has yet to officially call the show cancelled. Update: Cancelled!

Pure Genius (CBS) – 13 episodes [still airing]
October 27th, 2016 – Present

I can’t see CBS renewing this medical drama due to mediocre ratings. Update: Cancelled!

How many of the shows listed above did you watch? Are there any you’ve never even heard of? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Revised January 12th, 2018

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3 Replies to “2016: TV’s New Obscurities”

  1. I watched part of the first episode of Son of Zorn, in part because it looked to me as if it might be one of those shows that was so bad it would become a kind of negative legend (like, say, Cop Rock). It was so bad that I didn’t last the whole episode.

  2. ‘Pitch’ was surely the most over-hyped show in recent memory, which suprised me, as…a baseball drama, really? Never heard a word about it once it started airing.

  3. It also appears that Emerald City won’t last beyond it’s 10 episodes this season. It’s technically a 2017 show but was promoted with the 2016 fall season.

    The ratings for Pitch weren’t incredibly low but it was aired after their best rated show which boosted the ratings. Even with that help it still didn’t do well.

    It’s worth going back and watching Houdini and Doyle. It’s a UK/Canadian/US co-production so it’s more like a BBC show. It’s a shame they didn’t renew it since it held a lot of potential after the season finale. It had already aired in the UK before it started airing in the US.

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