STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We already have some telling signs about who will succeed in the fall TV season. Last year in 2013, more than 50 percent of new shows that debuted in the fall were canceled. Our TV critic Eric Deggans is scoping out which shows may fail or succeed this year. Hi, Eric.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hey.
INSKEEP: This is starting to sound like a reality TV show. Are they going to survive?
DEGGANS: Twenty shows enter and only 10 leave, yes, yes.
INSKEEP: Oh my goodness, or fewer than 10 maybe. So who's doing well?
DEGGANS: Well, you know, I think one of the biggest mysteries of this fall is why some of the worst reviewed shows of the season are doing relatively well. Now, I'm talking about shows like NBC's "Mysteries Of Laura," CBS's "NCIS: New Orleans" and another CBS show that so many critics hated about a police unit that tracks stalkers that's called - well, it's called "Stalker." So let's hear a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STALKER")
MAGGIE Q: (As Beth Davis) She's been hiding from someone.
DYLAN MCDERMOTT: (As Jack Larsen) In the bathroom she has a clear shower curtain so no one can hide behind it. She sleeps on the left side of the bed facing the door to watch for a shadow.
Q: (As Beth Davis) He likes the journey; he doesn't want it to end. Why kill her?
MCDERMOTT: (As Jack Larsen) I don't know yet, but I impressed you a little bit, didn't I?
DEGGANS: Yeah, a drama that doubles as a how-to manual for stalkers, like, what's not to like about that? So I think these shows have done well because timeslots still matter on network television. Now, I know we live in a TV world where people watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it, but "NCIS: New Orleans" airs after one of the highest rated shows on TV, the mother ship series, "NCIS." And "Stalker is a creepy crime drama that airs right after another creepy crime drama on Wednesdays, "Criminal Minds." And "Mysteries Of Laura" fits right into this night of cop action on Wednesdays on NBC, including "Law And Order: SVU" and "Chicago PD."
INSKEEP: Although, are there some people who are managing to succeed with programs that critics like?
DEGGANS: Yeah, you know, a lot of new shows with ethnic diversity seem to be clicking. ABC's comedy about an upper middle class family called "Blackish" is holding almost all the audience from "Modern Family" and it got picked up for a full season. And "How To Get Away with Murder," which is only the second network TV drama to star a black woman as the sole lead in 40 years, is doing great ratings airing behind "Scandal" on Thursday nights.
INSKEEP: Now, what's not working?
DEGGANS: Well, it turns out that today's TV audiences don't like rom-coms. Now, romantic comedies have also been failing at the box office and they're struggling on network TV, including shows like "Manhattan Love Story" and "Selfie" on ABC. And NBC's got this story about a couple who meet - kind of cute - called "A to Z."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A TO Z")
BEN FELDMAN: (As Andrew) May I ask what it is you do?
CRISTIN MILIOTI: (As Zelda) I am a lawyer. I do pro-bono work for an otherwise sinister white-collar firm.
FELDMAN: (As Andrew) I've got to tell, you I am pro pro-bono.
DEGGANS: That's the kind of material that gets you some of the lowest of premiere ratings for a new fall show that we've seen. So the other loser that we've seen so far is Fox. Their reality show "Utopia" was supposed to show a bunch of people building a new society over a year, but awful ratings forced Fox to move that show to Fridays, where TV shows go to die. They also have a new Sunday comedy called "Mulaney," that got pegged as a Seinfeld rip-off and got some of the worst ratings of a new fall show. And it's new drama about sick high school kids club "Red Band Society's" also struggling. The only thing that's working for them is this Batman inspired series called "Gotham." So I'm suggesting maybe they just fire up the bat signal and maybe get some help for the rest of their schedule during the week.
INSKEEP: Eric, always a pleasure.
DEGGANS: Thanks a lot.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Eric Deggans.
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