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‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: Still a Hit with Audiences for Five Seasons

When a TV series has been around for awhile, you start to question the reasons (both good and bad) that explain why the show continues. In the modern landscape of TV shows, the norm is that a show needs to start generating respectable audience ratings before they can be used as cash cows for networks in the United States, or in the UK, the BBC, as these outlets desperately try to squeeze every last bit of cash out of the show before it has to be retired. Often the new series bears little resemblance to what made the original shows so special.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Is It Doomed?

Looking specifically at “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the U.S. police sitcom farce that premiered on Fox in 2013, the answer to this conundrum seems to suggest more often that the show just isn’t getting the live audience figures it needs to stand a chance of survival and may be reaching the end of its lifespan. Hitting the 100-episode mark this season, there is now more than enough installments of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” for the off-network marketplace.

Efforts are being made to freshen up the show and promote it, with the crossover episode with “New Girl” last season just one example of this. However, with current viewing figures of just over 1.5 million viewers in the key 18-49 age demographic, the remaining part of this current fifth season might need to see a sharp upturn of viewers to be renewed again. Perhaps show’s producers will try to pull off a similar stunt to “The Simpsons” and go for an extra long episode to try and get the show some extra publicity.

Ratings Aside, is the Show Getting Critics Excited?

Compared to many shows that are in danger of getting canceled, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”remains well received by the critics, which could ultimately warrant a sixth season. When it comes to action and character development, the current season is still engaging from a content standpoint. Two of the more recent episodes, for example, have not only shown the characters of Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) getting engaged but have also injected an unexpected (and rare) dose of enthusiasm and passion from Captain Holt (Andre Braugher).

Holt managed to show himself to be a man of passion (which the show hasn’t always focused in on this aspect of him) when he had to help the team learn how to gamble in order to help catch a criminal.

As it turned out, Captain Holt has a fair amount of talent in this area, primarily thanks to his passion for mathematics, a concept that underpins one of the latest episodes where he is kidnapped. His clear understanding of the odds, which is so instrumental for card games like poker and blackjack, with its focus on probability and strategic decision making, and it makes Captain Holt a character hard to read and know. This observation comes from whether he is bluffing or telling the truth.

Despite introducing carefully thought-out plot lines and an interesting character development for Captain Holt, the current audience figures are still dragging down the chances of the show getting renewed.

A Fate Similar to “Futurama?”

Some TV shows, unfortunately, are never truly been backed by TV networks despite the critical acclaim of the show and the fact that fans were keen to keep it going. Animated “Futurama” was an example of a show that seemingly was never far away from being canceled, with the final termination coming in 2013 (after being revived by Comedy Central). While “Futurama” is now looking to come back as a mobile game, it seems as though the destiny of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” could share a similar fate to “Futurama,” and fans must hope at present that these potentially final episodes of the series bring about an acceptable conclusion to the show’s storylines.

Whether a show has critical acclaim or not, the audience numbers are normally going to be the main factor in determining its future. In an age where the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even Twitter (with their coverage of sports events) are putting more and more pressure on traditional TV networks, it seems that the numbers game that helps to generate advertising revenue is now more important than ever.

Sadly, this likely means that many more shows that are well-written and well-acted are likely to find themselves being canceled if they don’t quite succeed in the all-important numbers game. And, ironically, more of these shows could eventually end up on the likes of Netflix, where their loyal audience can then engage with them once again.

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Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of weekly column “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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