2018: TV’s New Obscurities

The new year is upon is, which means it’s time to look back at the forgotten (or soon to be forgotten) network television shows from 2018. This is my 11th annual review of “new obscurities” and it may be my last. Every year it becomes harder to draw the line between a successful network TV show and a flop. They’re all relatively obscure to the millions of viewers who either don’t watch network television or don’t realize the shows they’re streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix originated on network television.

In the past, I’ve called any scripted, network TV show that aired 13 episodes or fewer a new obscurity. By that definition, 2017 produced 22 new obscurities, down two from 2016.

It’s too soon to know which of last fall’s new network TV shows won’t return next season. The networks likely won’t make any official announcements concerning cancellations or renewals until May when schedules for the 2019-2020 TV season are released. Quite a few shows have been picked up for the rest of the 2018-2019 season: The Kids Are Alright and Single Parents on ABC, FBI and The Neighborhood on CBS, Charmed on The CW, The Cool Kids and The Resident on FOX, and New Amsterdam on NBC. Each of these shows received the traditional 22 episode “full” season order.

But what about the new shows that were picked up for fewer episodes? Three shows will run for just 16 episodes: Manifest (NBC), All American (The CW), and Legacies (The CW). A Million Little Things (ABC) will produce 17 episodes. The Rookie (ABC), Magnum P.I. (CBS), and God Friended Me have all been picked up for 20 episodes, two shy of a “full” season.

(The Conners, ABC’s continuation/spin-off of its Roseanne revival, will run for 11 episodes. Over on CBS, the Murphy Brown ended after 13 episodes but the network insists that was the plan all along and the show may return for the 2019-2020 season.)

That leaves just three new fall shows at or under my 13-episode cut-off for new obscurity status: Rel (FOX), I Feel Bad (NBC), and Happy Together (CBS). If all three are cancelled, that will mean 2018 produced 13 new obscurities. Add in The Conners and Murphy Brown if they don’t return next season, and the total climbs to 15.

Last year, I wondered if it was time to reconsider how many episodes a network TV show can produce and still be deemed a “new obscurity” after its cancellation. If NBC decides not to renew Manifest for a second season, for example, 15 episodes won’t make it any less “obscure” than 13 episodes.

In a few months, when the networks make their official cancellations, I’ll revise this list. Depending on which shows are cancelled, I may decide to finally update my definition of a new obscurity.

Mid-Season

LA to Vegas (FOX)
15 episodes
January 2nd – May 1st

Living Biblically (CBS)
13 episodes
February 26th – April 16th; July 7th – July 21st

Life Sentence (The CW)
13 episodes
March 7th – June 15th

Champions (NBC)
10 episodes
March 8th – May 25th

Deception (ABC)
13 episodes
March 11th – May 27th

Rise (NBC)
10 episodes
March 13th – May 15th

Alex, Inc. (ABC)
10 episodes
March 28th – May 16th

Spring

The Crossing (ABC)
11 episodes
April 2nd – June 9th

Reverie (NBC)
10 episodes
May 30th – August 8th

Summer

Take Two (ABC)
13 episodes
June 21st – September 13th

Fall

Rel (FOX)
12 episodes
September 9th – Present

I Feel Bad (NBC)
13 episodes
September 19th – December 27th

Happy Together (CBS)
13 episodes
October 1st – Present


Were you or are you currently a fan of any of the TV shows listed above? How many have you never heard of? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

2 Replies to “2018: TV’s New Obscurities”

  1. Even though Rel and Happy Together are still on the air, they might as well be dead. No one’s watching and just like I Feel Bad, there’s really no reason to care!

  2. The short run series is becoming a standard on TV instead of cancelling a series after a number of episodes. Ironically, these shows are getting full runs so they can get DVD releases, making them not quite as obscure as cancelled shows of the past. It might be better to focus on single season shows, which could include shows that last 22 episodes or more. Many older single season shows are just as obscure as short run shows.

    Deception and Reverie are probably the saddest losses. Both shows were enjoyable to watch, but you could tell they wouldn’t last.

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