Goodbye Ash, Hello Again Brooklyn 99 And S.H.I.E.L.D.: What Does It Truly Take To Get Another Try?

Credit: Starz

Over the past few weeks some fairly major stuff has been happening in the world of TV.

Well, it has if you are a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Brooklyn 99 and Ash Vs Evil Dead, anyway.

At the end of April the final episode of streamed series Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 3 aired. After finally defeating the Big Bad, Ash (Bruce Campbell) collapses, is rescued by the Knights of Sumeria and wakes up in a what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world, sporting a surprisingly intact right hand. He is greeted by a woman who appears to be at least partially synthetic, who drives off with him into a ruined wasteland in a modified version of his beloved Oldsmobile Delta 88.

Shortly before that episode aired, the news came that it would be the final ever episode, with Starz cancelling the short series for good. Something of a cliffhanger.

Although fan petitions have tried to get the series renewed to resolve the cliffhanger, so far they have met with no response, and star Bruce Campbell said he had definitely now retired as Ash.

The series’ viewing figures had declined from just under 500,000 same-day viewers for season 1 to around 177,000 for season 3 according to Variety. The show experienced a slow audience decline, but consistent fan and critic appreciation and its 99% Rotten Tomatoes rating. The figures don’t include the on-demand and repeat viewing numbers.

In a surprising move, Fox cancelled the popular cop comedy Brooklyn 99 this week after five seasons. Then less than a couple of days later, NBC scooped up the series.

The series centres around Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and the rest of the 99th Precinct detective squad, with Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) keeping the team in line.

The casting and writing combine perfectly to create likeable characters you actually care about, and great character-driven comedy in the vein of Parks and Recreation – not surprising as the same team of Michael Shur and Dan Goor are responsible.

The series has shown a decline in viewing figures over the last couple of seasons but has been consistently popular with fans and critics alike. It has a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and every season has received multiple awards nominations and pickups.

Finally came the confirmation of a non-cancellation, against the expectations of many, closing down speculation about the fate of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – at least for now.  Network ABC announced the renewal earlier this week, although it is so far only for 13 episodes.

The current season is hurtling headlong towards the events of Infinity War, which could leave it in an interesting position come season 6. Just how the team or its remains will function following Thanos’s finger-snap is another reason fans will be itching for the season to arrive.

The surprising thing about the renewal is that the show is currently at the bottom of ABC’s viewer figures and low in the 18-49 demographic networks prefer. Viewer figures have fallen slowly throughout its run. The series is, however, highly rated by fans and critics, with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score and numerous award nominations and pickups.

The fact that NBC picked up Brooklyn 99 so quickly after Fox dropped it shows that different networks are happy to apply different criteria to whether a show is worth airing or not.  Audience appreciation and Viewer figures are very different things, but networks also look at ad revenue, and a high appreciation series might be just as good for the return on targeted advertising as a lower scoring series with higher transient viewer figures.

A good reception for one show from both viewers and critics may work to lure in more viewers to the network, not just to the show. So while overall viewing figures are undoubtedly important, networks can risk shows with lower on-the-day views if they can maybe raise the overall critical and audience appreciation for the network, with a potential knock-on of raising overall network viewer figures and ad revenue.

Carolyn Hucker