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Upfronts 2016: Arrivals and Departures Leave Network Schedules Up in the Air

Well, that was certainly an eventful 24 hours in the broadcast world. Days before upfront week, the networks provided a bit of clarity regarding their 2016-2017 schedules, axing several bubble shows and introducing a bunch of new entrants. The networks were lauded for their patience early in the season, playing up delayed viewing ratings and waiting until Nov. 13 to officially cancel the first new show—that distinction going to ABC’s Wicked City.  

The big stories from the past 24 hours include Supergirl shifting to CW and ABC killing The Muppets, though the latter wasn’t exactly a surprise amidst the comedy’s lackluster ratings. Sturdy cop drama Castle lasted eight seasons on ABC, no small accomplishment. It had the ignominy of being singled out during last year’s Emmys cold open; host Andy Samberg jokingly attempted to view everything on TV from an underground bunker, thought he caught them all, then realized he’d missed Castle.

Other ABC cuts include Nashville, Agent Carter, The Family and Blood & Oil.

Even ever-stable CBS got in on it, scrapping CSI: Cyber and officially ending, at least for now, in this era of revivals, its lucrative CSI franchise.

Back when the fall season was starting, Fox had high hopes that a couple A-list men with A-list looks could end the network’s live-action comedy woes. But Grandfathered, with John Stamos, and The Grinder, with Rob Lowe, could not make a Tuesday comedy block work and could not win sophomore seasons.

Also getting the ax for Fox are Bordertown, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life and drama Minority Report.

While The CW picks up Supergirl, which should feel right at home amidst the various superhero series such as The Flash there, the deadly virus drama Containment won’t see season two. A CW spokesperson said it was billed as a limited event series and would end in mid-July as planned.

Creator Julie Plec suggested she’s up for more Containment on Twitter: “Dearest Containment fans, we made 13 wonderful episodes of a powerful story. We'll make more if someone asks us, but in the meantime, enjoy!”

CW also announced Riverdale, set in the Archie Comics world.

NBC has been noticeably quiet amidst the frenzy, officially announcing part four of its Chicago franchise, with Dick Wolf’s Chicago Justice, along with a Mandy Moore dramedy called This Is Us.

ABC had a busy day of shopping, announcing, among others, Shondaland period drama Still Star-Crossed, Mark Gordon legal drama Conviction, and Imaginary Mary, a live action/CGI hybrid comedy from the team at The Goldbergs.

New entertainment chief Channing Dungey is eager to make her own mark on the network.

Same goes for rookie CBS entertainment boss Glenn Geller. CBS put a name on its new Kevin James series, Kevin Can Wait, and also renewed Life in Pieces. The network is reimagining the filmTraining Day and the series MacGyver, while also slotting Joel McHale into the lead in comedy The Great Indoors and Matt LeBlanc in Man With a Plan. The drama Bull depicts the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, while medical drama Pure Genius comes from Jason Katims.

All this, and we haven’t even gotten to upfront week yet.

NBC and Fox unveil their wares May 16, ABC takes its turn May 17 (as do ESPN and Univision), CBS goes May 18, and The CW wraps things up May 19.

Hopefully the networks have left some news for us to cover next week.