Tag Archives: Scorpion

End of season report card

How To Get Away With Murder has finished its second run but lost a lot of viewers
How To Get Away With Murder has finished its second run but lost a lot of viewers

At ABC, the story of 2015/16 is that established titles continued to thrive but new ones didn’t really catch on. The highest rating shows (in this order, based on 18-49 viewing) were Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, The Goldbergs, The Middle and How To Get Away With Murder. Of these, the newest is HTGAWM, which has just ended its second season. Grey’s Anatomy, by contrast, has just completed its 12th season.

This year’s figures show the importance of producer Shonda Rhimes to the network, since three of these titles come from her stable. But they also suggest that ABC cannot be complacent on this front.

HTGAWM has seen its audience fall from around 14 million when it launched two years ago to five million at the end of the current run. That suggests it will need to start turning things around to survive beyond season three. Similarly, Rhimes’ latest show The Catch has failed to deliver for ABC, ranking 17th among all scripted titles at time of writing, but ABC saw enough promise to renew it for a second season nonetheless.

Quantico did enough to secure a renewal but has seen its audience decline
Quantico did enough to secure a renewal but has seen its audience decline

Of the new shows that came into the ABC schedule last autumn, the one that made the most noise was Quantico. The show started well and secured a renewal but has seen its audience slide across the season. Most worryingly for ABC there was no last-episode uplift – a common trait with dramas as audiences tune in to see how things resolve. This doesn’t augur well for the second season, which will kick off without much momentum. The biggest flops of the year were Wicked City and Of Kings & Prophets (which should make networks shy of biblical stories for a while).

Over at NBC, the top six (18-49s) were Blindspot, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago PD and Superstore. Four of these are from Dick Wolf, NBC’s equivalent of ABC’s Rhimes.

Wolf’s success aside, Blindspot is undoubtedly NBC’s big success story this year. While it didn’t achieve the highest absolute ratings on the channel, it did come out number one among 18-49s. True, ratings for the back half of the series are some way down on the show’s strong debut — but they have stayed pretty consistent.

The Blacklist looks set to put in a strong fourth season
The Blacklist looks set for a strong fourth season

The Blacklist didn’t make the top six but it would have been if we were looking at total viewers. The show, starring James Spader, is now a scheduling stalwart having finished three seasons and can be relied on to have a solid fourth season too. Grimm only ranked as the 14th best show but still secured a sixth-season renewal.

Of the network’s other new shows, Jennifer Lopez vehicle Shades of Blue had a decent first year, with its audience stabilising and starting to rise in the second half of the season. Disappointments included Game of Silence, The Player and Truth Be Told.

The ratings on CBS are significantly higher than those on ABC and NBC, when viewed in totality. The top six in the 2015/16 season were The Big Bang Theory, NCIS (both juggernauts), Life in Pieces, Criminal Minds, Scorpion and NCIS: New Orleans, although it’s worth noting that numbers seven to 10 (Mom, Supergirl, 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly) would have fared well on the other networks.

Stability has been key to CBS’s success, with The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Criminal Minds all extremely long-running series. The latter two have also spawned successful spin-offs in the shape of NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: LA and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

Criminal Minds remains one of CBS's leading shows
Criminal Minds remains one of CBS’s leading shows

In terms of new shows, the big success of the year has been the new comedy Life in Pieces. It benefited from being scheduled after The Big Bang Theory — but even so its performance has been excellent. So it’s no surprising that, at time of writing, it has just been renewed for a second season by CBS.

Another show that tends to go under the radar internationally but is doing a great job for CBS is Scorpion, which just completed season two. The show, which is about a group of computer experts who tackle high-tech threats to the US, hasn’t received especially good reviews. But its ratings are as good as most dramas on the US networks, which explains why it has also been renewed.

CBS’s new dramas have been more problematic. Limitless started off well but has drifted badly in the second half of its first season. Within the next few days it could find itself axed, a situation that would have been unthinkable back in the autumn. Also struggling is another movie spin-off, Rush Hour, which is right at the bottom end of the CBS ratings this season.

Limitless was unable to maintain its momentum on CBS
Limitless was unable to maintain its momentum

Supergirl also ran out of steam in the second half of its debut run, but has been renewed for a second season as part of a deal that sees the show move to The CW, where it will probably fit in nicely alongside top-rating shows like The Flash and Arrow.

And then there is Fox, whose top six scripted shows in terms of 18-49s are Empire, The X-Files, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Lucifer and Gotham. The success of Empire has been well documented while the revival of The X-Files proved to be a good idea. Lucifer is one one of the top performing new series although, like many of its contemporaries, it saw a significant decline in its later episodes. However, it still managed to secure itself a renewal from Fox.

Also worth mentioning is Rosewood. Although the show doesn’t make the top six in terms of 18-49 ratings, its headline audience of 4.88 million means it is actually the third highest show in terms of total viewers. Echoing Life in Pieces, the show was boosted by airing after Empire but it has held up pretty well. After a mid-season slump it is bouncing back and has secured a renewal.

Empire has remained an established hit for Fox
Empire has remained an established hit for Fox

So now we move into Upfronts season, the time of the year when the networks announce new programmes.

The volume of renewals means there aren’t many berths available for new shows. But the networks should keep one thing in mind: with series like Empire, Rosewood, Lucifer, Blindspot, The Goldbergs, Life in Pieces and Scorpion doing well, maybe they should focus more on original ideas than movie-to-TV extensions, which aren’t doing especially well.

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Scorpion’s tale: Walter O’Brien on the CBS show

Walter O’Brien reveals how Scorpion, the CBS show based on his company, has attracted more interest in his firm and tells DQ that the series carries a positive message for viewers.

He describes it as The Big Bang Theory meets The A-Team, but Walter O’Brien isn’t discussing just any TV show. This is Scorpion, US network CBS’s drama about a team of brilliant misfits who are the last line of defence against the high-tech threats of the modern age – and the central character is based on him.

Walter O'Brien
Walter O’Brien

The series, which began its second season in September, is inspired by O’Brien’s firm Scorpion Computer Services – a consultancy hired by banks, insurance companies and government departments to solve problems ranging from national security to business management. The company also has a sister business, ConciergeUp.com, which aims to solve any problem its customers want to throw at it.

“For years we said we’d solve any technical problem,” explains O’Brien, who says he started his first business aged 13 and that he has an IQ of 197. “Then our customers started asking us to solve non-technical problems, such as ‘cure my daughter’s anorexia,’ ‘rescue my son from a prison,’ ‘put a shark tank in my office’ or ‘choose a winning racehorse based on its DNA.’ We had all of these crazy requests. We approached them like we were solving a software problem.”

After building a network of experts to solve these problems, O’Brien found he needed to hire more “geniuses” but faced a challenge in how to recruit the brightest minds for his organisation.

“If we had a book, the demographic we’re looking for wouldn’t read it. If we made a movie, they’d forget about it in six months,” he says. “But if we took the producers of Transformers, Spiderman and Star Trek, the director of The Fast and the Furious and the writers of The Sopranos, Prison Break and Hostages, put them all together with CBS and made the next CSI-type show, we’d be in a situation where they’d find us.

O'Brien is portrayed by Elyes Gabel
O’Brien is portrayed by Elyes Gabel

“It would be like The Big Bang Theory meets The A-Team and they’d recognise themselves due to the people on screen playing geniuses and would come join us. And that’s what’s been happening. Our website gets 104,000 hits a week now because of the TV show. The first season’s pilot drew in 27 million viewers.”

As well as running the company, which launched Scorpion Studios in July, O’Brien spends time with the show’s writers to consult on storylines inspired by his work and to offer solutions to problems raised in the script.

“They would come back to me with a script full of ‘AWs’ – ask Walter,” he says. “They’d have things like Walter gets put in prison, how would you break out? Walter’s in Vegas, how would you cheat? Walter’s in a fire fight, how would he defend himself? And I have to come up with several ways that haven’t been on TV before to do these kind of things – like a modern day MacGyver.”

The most common problems Scorpion deals with are military related, O’Brien reveals. “They want to know how to sneak into another country, how to rescue someone who’s been kidnapped, or what’s the latest in cool-looking suits if you’re wearing bullet-proof armour underneath.

“We have to be very careful. It’s the studios and producers who get twitchy. They say ‘OK, you just told us how to hack a satellite – now can you fluff it up a bit so everyone doesn’t try it at home?’ Then of course we get critics online who say that’s not really how it works. So I can’t win.”

O’Brien says Scorpion promotes the message that ‘being smart is cool’

But not everything O’Brien is involved with is open for discussion with CBS and the Scorpion writers. “We have things that are classified, that can never make it to the studio. Then we have stuff that’s public knowledge now because it’s on WikiLeaks or YouTube and we’re simply pointing to it or explaining it. We also have other stuff that’s under non-disclosure agreements that last up to seven years. But as we’ve been in business for nearly 30 years, we have lots of stuff from 20 years ago that’s old to us but still cutting edge to people watching. We’re very careful. We can only talk about 10% of what we do but that’s enough to feed the shows with some cool stories and gadgets.”

So why is the series a hit? O’Brien, who has an executive producer credit on the show, says Scorpion is full of positive messages promoting teamwork and the mantra that being smart is cool. “The show is a dysfunctional family of superheroes,” he explains. They’re all brilliant in some ways and not brilliant in other ways. It’s easier to like the underdog. All these people have flaws, but when they work together they’re better off than working alone.

“The other positive message is every problem has a solution and being smart is cool. In the US, being good at basketball is considered cool rather than being smart. We need to change that. All of those factors combined make it a unique show.”

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Comic cuts: A round-up of the hottest trailers unveiled in San Diego

As the dust settles on another Comic-Con, Michael Pickard rounds up all the news and casts his eye over the hottest trailers that were unveiled to thousands of fans in San Diego.

Comic-Con-fans. Credit-@DCComics
Costumed Comic-Con fans get into the spirit of the event

And so Comic-Con ends for another year. As more than 130,000 people make their way home from the San Diego Convention Centre, the latest round of this annual four-day event has only served to establish it further as the new must-go place for television series, and their producers, directors, writers and cast members, to build up the noise surrounding their launch or return to our screens.

Alongside announcements about series renewals and surprise star appearances, it’s always intriguing to see where television drama – and genre fare in particular – is heading over the coming year.

Panels were hosted by shows including Limitless, Orphan Black, iZombie, Scorpion and Sherlock. Game of Thrones, The 100 and Marvel’s broadcast series – Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – also drew fans to hear gossip from the set and more about what fate might lie in store for their favourite characters.

Elsewhere, MTV announced Teen Wolf had been renewed for a sixth season, while cable network WGN America ordered a third run of its spellbinding period drama Salem.

Comic book drama Arrow released an image of the Green Arrow’s costume ahead of season four launching on The CW this fall, while the casts of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, both also on The CW, joined in the fun.

Universal Cable Productions announced it is teaming with Warren Ellis and Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) to adapt 1970s Mexican network Televisa’s format El Pantera, as well as adapting UK film The Machine with writer Caradog James for Syfy. It has also optioned IDW Publishing comic Kill Shakespeare.

The producer of NBC reboot Heroes Reborn, Imperative Entertainment, said it had optioned rights to adapt Hugh Howey novel Sand, which tells of a family of sand divers who use wetsuit-type technology to dive beneath the desert that covers a lawless dystopian world to retrieve valuable relics that help them survive.

The cast of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow gather at the San Diego event
The cast of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow gather at the San Diego event

Minority Report producer Darryl Frank also revealed that Steven Spielberg had been working with executives on the Fox reboot of the celebrated director’s 2002 feature film.

At Syfy, the network revealed new details about its six-hour adaptation of Arthur C Clark’s novel Childhood’s End, and former Lost star Josh Holloway was reunited with the show’s executive producer Carlton Cuse as they discussed their latest collaboration: USA Network’s forthcoming Colony.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller also gave hope to fans of Hannibal that the now-cancelled NBC drama could be resurrected as a feature film, though there were celebrations at the Grimm panel, where the show’s stars and executive producers discussed plans for the NBC series’ landmark 100th episode.

But for all the talk at Comic-Con, its the exclusive clips and trailers that got fans off their seats and on their feet inside the convention centre.

Here DQ showcases trailers for some of the most anticipated shows heading to television over the next year:

See you next year in San Diego!

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