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Predicting The Biggest TV Bombs Of 2023

The year 2023 has begun, and with that, so too has the new television season begun in earnest as well. This means a lot of highly anticipated television (or, more accurately, streaming) shows will be debuting their first seasons this year, such as Rian Johnson's mystery series "Poker Face," the much-touted video game adaptation "The Last of Us," and a reboot of "Frasier."

However, due to the current abundance of various streaming services available, there are bound to be many shows that will fall through the cracks. And, while many of these new shows will surely flop due to bad reviews, underwhelming marketing, or audience disinterest, some will unfortunately get lost in the deluge of content regardless of their actual merit, critical-appraisal, or advertising.

Audiences can feel overwhelmed and even weary from so many options — besides TV series, we've also got social media, video apps, and video games all vying for our eyeballs' attention — and that can make it more likely for a show to fail than succeed. But there are some shows that are much more likely to fail than others. From weird TV adaptations of cult film IPs to generic procedurals and sitcoms to high-concept shows that might be too ambitious for their own good, these are the new television series that we're predicting are the most likely to bomb in 2023.

Fatal Attraction

Adapting a film IP into a television show isn't a new thing, as we've seen with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Fargo," and "Cobra Kai" (via SyFy). In fact, this practice goes all the way back to the '50s with the 1953 TV series adaptation of the 1937 supernatural comedy film "Topper" (via IMDb).

It feels like this has been happening more and more lately, particularly with films from the '80s and '90s, as seen in Amazon's "A League of Their Own" and Disney+'s "Willow" and "The Santa Clause," all of which were released in 2022. Paramount+ is joining the club with its adaptation of the hugely successful 1987 thriller "Fatal Attraction" (via Box Office Mojo). The film follows family man Dan (Michael Douglas), who cheats on his wife with Alex (Glenn Close), which leads to disaster and bunny killing.

The 2023 series will star Lizzy Caplan as Alex and Joshua Jackson as Dan and reframe the story to tell it from Alex's perspective (via Entertainment Weekly). While it's intriguing to consider how this can be told with a different awareness of mental health and female representation, we still see potential issues with it. 

First off, can this premise sustain an entire series? Can "Fatal Attraction" penetrate the bombardment of movie-turned-TV-shows? Furthermore, can a fictional thriller compete with actual true crime series crowding the same marketplace? While Caplan is extremely talented and has starred in successful shows before — such as "Masters of Sex"– she's also starred in a lot of bombs. Jackson may still bring in fans of "Fringe" or "The Affair," but we're not sure that either of them has enough star power to draw in viewers.

Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies

The upcoming Paramount+ series "Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" is another new show in a long line of TV adaptations of films. This time, it comes from the 1978 classic musical "Grease," which was based on the stage play written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Case.

"Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" isn't the first attempted extension of the property, as there was also a misbegotten (and mostly forgotten) sequel, 1982's "Grease 2" starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The original "Grease" is set in the '50s and is about a star-crossed romance between the too-cool-for-school Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and goody-two shoes Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John.) 

The film also focuses on the characters' friends from high school like the greaser girl group "The Pink Ladies," which includes fan-favorite Rizzo (Stockard Channing). So, the TV series adaptation "Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" will be focusing on the, well, Pink Ladies.

The show, which is a prequel to the original "Grease," will tell the origin story of how this gang got to have such a bad reputation (via IndieWire). But we wonder if their origin story worth telling? Sure, unnecessary prequels can yield great results — look no further than "Andor" — but those seem to be more exceptions than the rule.

Generally, these kinds of re-tellings are unnecessary and don't do justice to the source material. Worse, this won't even be about the origins of Rizzo and the others we know and love from "Grease." It'll be completely separate from the film's storyline, save for the location and group name, and while we don't doubt that fans of "Grease" will tune in, we wonder how it can live up to the original.

Up Here

From all-time classics like 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" and 1965's "The Sound of Music" to more recent fare like 2008's "Mamma Mia" and the 2021 remake of "West Side Story," the musical genre has delighted audiences for decades on the big screen.

However, this genre isn't as common or successful on television as it is on film. While some shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The Flash" have experimented with one-off musical episodes, there are very few series that are full-on musicals. "Glee" is perhaps the most successful in that regard, while other shows like "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" have become cult hits over time (via The Guardian), but the options are few and far between.

"Up Here" is an upcoming musical romantic-comedy series from Hulu that will feature musical numbers from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the songwriters of Disney's "Frozen" (via Deadline). It stars Mae Whitman ("Scott Pilgrim vs. The World") and Carlos Valdes ("The Flash"), as an ordinary couple living in New York in 1999, who are trying to work through their relationship problems. 

Now, while that all seems like a winning formula given the talent and pedigree behind it, there's no guarantee of its success either. Most musical television series have bombed hard, as seen with CBS' Hugh Jackman-led "Viva Laughlin" or ABC's infamous "Cop Rock" from super producer Steven Bochco in 1990 (via The AV Club).

This may be because television doesn't lend itself as well to the genre as film does because you're asked to suspend your disbelief for longer with a series (via The Independent). Perhaps "Up Here" will beat the curse ... but most likely not.

True Lies

In the tradition of the recent "Lethal Weapon" and "Rush Hour" TV shows (did you forget those existed? Because we did), CBS is releasing a series based on 1994's "True Lies," which is an action flick that's also decades past its cultural relevance. Like the aforementioned "Lethal Weapon" and "Rush Hour" shows, "True Lies" will not be a continuation of the original film, but rather will be a reboot with an all-new cast.

The original action-comedy film was directed by "Avatar: The Way of Water" filmmaker James Cameron, and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Arnold. The original was itself a remake of the French comedy "La Totale!," and it follows a secret super spy using his skills to save his failing marriage.

"True Lies" was a box office success thanks to its big-budget Cameron-style action sequences and the star power of Schwarzenegger and Lee Curtis. The upcoming "True Lies" CBS television show will star Steve Howey ("DOA: Dead or Alive") and Ginger Gonzaga ("She-Hulk: Hulk Attorney at Law") as y (via Variety). 

While there's some hope that the remake will do away with the 1994 film's problematic portrayal of Muslim and Arab characters, we still wonder how much it can offer without the trio of Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Lee Curtis and as Variety noted, this is now the second attempt to turn the film into a series. Without the star power, big movie budget, and an original hook, we can't lie ... it's true this show will probably bomb.

Dead Ringers

The upcoming 2023 Amazon Prime Video limited series "Dead Ringers" is based on David Cronenberg's 1988 psycho-sexual horror-thriller of the same name. While "Dead Ringers" isn't at all a bad movie, we wonder how much brand recognition it has to entice audiences? And without the IP recognition, can the premise withstand multiple episodes/seasons?

In the film, identical twins Beverly and Elliot Mantle (Jeremy Irons in a dual role) are high-class, big-city gynecologists. Both of the twins delight in switching identities from time to time, which eventually comes to a head when they end up falling for the same woman (Geneviève Bujold). Like most Cronenberg films, things get both gross and erotic pretty quickly.

Amazon's TV adaptation of "Dead Ringers" will be a gender-swapped retelling that will focus on issues facing women in medicine. Rachel Weisz will both take on Jeremy Irons' role of the unethical twins and executive produce the project as well (via Deadline).

To be clear, we don't feel that this show is destined to bomb because of the exceptional talent or source material. Rather, we're unsure of how it will fare in the incoming deluge of movies-turned-to-TV-series considering it lacks a substantial die-hard fan base of the original movie. That's not to say that there isn't a devoted cult following, but is that enough to overcome the influx of content on the way and stand above it? Only time will tell. Heck, a gender-swapped retelling is actually an interesting twist for this story, so we're hoping we're wrong about this one.

Animal Control

Joel McHale is a comedic actor best known for hosting the E! Entertainment talk show "The Soup," starring in the deconstructionist sitcom "Community," and ... not much else. That's not for lack of trying on his part, as seen in Netflix's "The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale" and CBS' short-lived "The Great Indoors" (via Deadline).

Joel McHale's next project is the upcoming FOX workplace sitcom "Animal Control." The logline is that the show "will follow a group of local Animal Control workers whose lives are complicated by the fact that animals are simple, but humans are not" (via Variety). McHale will play a former police officer, who gets ousted for trying to root out corruption and now works for the animal control department. He will star alongside Vella Lovell ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend").

While we do enjoy McHale's work, judging by his track record, we're not sure that this will succeed. He hasn't had a big hit since the end of "Community." Even "Community" wasn't a big hit for a long time (via The New Yorker), and mostly got by on good reviews and a cult following. However, can that kind of slow burn be allowed to amass a cult following in the current television climate, especially as networks compete with streaming services? We'll just have to wait and see.

The Ark

Many may know Dean Devlin as the producing partner of master-of-disaster director Roland Emmerich, who helped bring epics like "Stargate" and "Independence Day" to life (via IGN). But Devlin hasn't limited his producing skills to the end of the world stories, as he's also produced television series like "The Librarians" and "Leverage" and he is returning to TV to executive produce SYFY's upcoming sci-fi mystery adventure show "The Ark."

The series is co-created by Jonathan Glassner, the showrunner of "Stargate SG-1," which was itself based on "Stargate," the 1994 film co-written and produced by Devlin. According to SYFY, "The Ark" is about "[a] damaged ship and dwindling resources (air, water, you name it) will pit the various characters against each other, ultimately exposing our deepest fears and predilection for unspeakable cruelty."

The problem with the show is that based on its trailer, it seems to be generic both in its look and story, as the sub-genre of "bad things happen to people on a spaceship" is well-trodden by now and has already been done so successfully with series like "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Expanse." 

Furthermore, SYFY is known for canceling things early when they don't immediately grab an audience as the one season of George R.R. Martin's "Nightflyers" will attest (via Deadline). Finally, Dean Devlin's non-Roland Emmerich projects have had a spotty track record lately, such as his directorial flop "Geostorm."

The Never Game

CBS' upcoming procedural action-thriller-drama "The Never Game" is based on the novel of the same name by Jeffery Deaver. According to the official press release, the plot follows "lone-wolf survivalist Colter Shaw, who roams the country as a 'reward seeker,' using his expert tracking skills to help private citizens and law enforcement solve all manner of mysteries while contending with his own fractured family" (via Variety).

The show will star Justin Hartley as protagonist Colter Shaw and the rest of cast is rounded out by Robin Weigert, Abby McEnany, Eric Graise, Fiona Rene, and Mary McDonnell.

The reason we feel that "The Never Game" may not succeed is there are already plenty of shows out there that fill the genre niche that "The Never Game" is trying to wedge itself into, such as CW's "Walker," Paramount Network's "Yellowstone," Amazon Prime Studios' "Reacher," and other similar shows with a neo-western bent. 

More significantly, it doesn't seem to have a strong hook in an already crowded market of procedural dramas nor does it seem like it will subvert the genre in a meaningful way to make it stand out. That's not to say there isn't a fanbase for this type of show but since viewers already have so much to choose from already in the realm of law enforcement procedurals, we're not sure "The Never Game" will make a splash.

Dear Edward

Apple+'s 2023 drama "Dear Edward" is based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by author Ann Napolitano. The series follows 12-year-old Edward (Colin O'Brien), who is the lone survivor of a plane crash that kills his whole family. He then attempts to pick up the pieces of his now-broken life.

Unlike some other shows on this list, we don't feel this one will bomb due to lack of quality. "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood" showrunner Jason Katims is bringing this adaptation to life with the help of a stellar cast including Connie Britton, Taylor Schilling, and Amy Forsyth (via Apple). Their talents are all on display in the trailer of "Dear Edward," which is intense and emotional.

Our concern is that this is depressing stuff. After all, the book and show are based on a true event (via The New York Times). Of course, many intense dramas have become sensations but considering how difficult and painful things can feel in the real world, we wonder if audiences really want to wallow in misery for an entire season? 

Furthermore, a number of shows have blended in other genres with drama — such as the devastating "The Last of Us" or "Station Eleven" — and this inclusion of action or horror elements can help make the more tragic moments easier to bear. "Dear Edward" is a straightforward drama courtesy of a showrunner who has mastered pulling at audiences' heartstrings and we wonder if it might just be a bit too much for people right now.