When you get to knowing TV shows as much as I do or even as much as pretty much any basic person does, you will notice that there are times when there are gaps in the schedule that probably shouldn’t be there but are because of cancellations. They could quickly fill the gap, but this doesn’t always work. Whenever a show is cancelled, something must air in its place. But what?
Sometimes gaps can be dumb in terms of what replaces it. What do I mean? Well, the dumbest of these are when they effectively air nothing but reruns in an empty timeslot. CBS has done this in two back to back seasons with comedies. In one, they got rid of Partners and replaced it with encore programming. This was despite the fact that a show called Friend Me was something they ordered to air. But the man who created it killed himself and CBS liked the empty timeslot better. That is understandable. But in the next season, they pulled The McCarthys from the schedule in February and never really replaced it until the next season giving them an odd number of comedies for the rest of the season, which is around four months of people getting extra Big Bang Theory reruns instead of something new all the time.
There are things to be concerned about when a show you like quickly returns and fills the gap of a cancelled show. You’d think that it wouldn’t be concerning, but it is. The quicker it is filled, the more likely that it is to be cancelled in the future, whether it is the end of this season or the end of the next season after it. Look at Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. It filled the gap of Doubt’s cancellation quite easily and was cancelled too. Beyond the Tank started to air again the week after Of Kings and Prophets last aired. There is no sign that Beyond the Tank is ever coming back with new episodes.
Sometimes you have to have voids in the schedule since it wouldn’t make sense to fill it. In February, when they have all these special programs on Sundays, some new shows won’t start because they’d be competing with things like the Super Bowl or whatever else is on. That’s why NBC, which airs football until midseason, will typically wait until March to roll out their Sunday schedules.
Comedies can be the hardest to work with in terms of voids in the schedule. While any drama can be replaced by another drama as hour long shows are easy to deal with, if you have an odd number of comedies, someone is probably doing something wrong. This means that a half hour is being wasted in terms of the schedule since they don’t have the right number to air. There are ways to fix this, but it doesn’t normally change since the longer you wait into a season to start working on a new show, the more likely it won’t come out that season.
While it can be seen as bad for a show to quickly replace another, it is actually the best course of action to have one show replace another once it fails. Otherwise, dumb things can happen like one show airing more than once in a season, which typically happens with non-scripted shows like Dateline or, most recently, Shark Tank. Other dumb things could be encore programming for an extended amount of time. I would not have been so annoyed at some shows’ cancellations should there have been an actual replacement for the show instead of just tons of reruns or additional episodes of shows already on the air. Why even pull the show if you can’t give it a real replacement?
An empty timeslot can give networks an excuse to air specials in their place until they feel that a more proper replacement can be used. You’ll see this if a show is cancelled and Halloween in near. When the TV show Hank was pulled from the schedule, that gave ABC time to air things like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown in its place until they found a new slot for it. You’ll see Christmastime used as a lot of specials that air which normally don’t replace anything long term (unless you are a Christmas show, in which place, you are in until the season’s over and the other show gets its slot back), but if there is a place for it, it will air then and not some other time.
I don’t know what else there is to say on this subject. Maybe there is more that I could bring up, but there really isn’t. The main thing to summarize is that voids can come up in the schedule often enough and they can be dumbly resolved often. But they are always interesting things to watch.