POLL: How Many Episodes Do You Watch Before Deciding the Fate of a TV Show?

Awake, Zero Hour, 666 Park Avenue, M*A*S*H, Saving Hope

Everyone who watches TV likely has one – a list of shows they feel were canceled unfairly or before their time. If you are like me, then your list could be pretty long. In recent memory, 666 Park Avenue was canceled without showing the final 4 episodes – although the network has said it will show them in the summer of 2013, and Saving Hope never broadcast the final two episodes of the first season in the US – the fans needed to go to the web to see them.

And then there are some shows that were abruptly canceled – perhaps for the best. Since the beginning of 2013, two programs that I had started watching were canceled after only airing a few episodes – Zero Hour, which was pulled after just three episodes were broadcast and Do No Harm, which was pulled after a mere two episodes hit the airwaves.

Clearly, the networks have a formula they use to decide when to pull the plug, although it may seem capricious to the viewers. Certainly in some instances, it can be a very unpopular decision, if comments made on fan forums are to be considered representative.

So, this started me wondering – is there a sweet spot, a minimum number of shows to decide if the time spent is worth it? Our time is precious, and I totally understand the need to not waste any of it on a program that is not interesting or going anywhere. All of this leads us to the point of this poll – as a viewer, how much of a chance do you give a new show before changing the channel or deleting it from your DVR list?

When deciding whether or not to pull the plug, it is in my opinion important to remember that it does take a program time to become established and for the writers and actors to get a good feel for the characters and interactions.


A good example to consider is M*A*S*H. This show ran 11 seasons, and was never canceled. However, it is also true that it was almost canceled after its first season. It was panned in 1973 by TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory. According to an article I read recently, the wife of then CBS Chief Executive Bill Paley was a fan of the show and convinced him to keep it on the air. After it was moved to a better time slot, the show took off. In fact, the series finale was the most watched TV episode at the time it was broadcast. The question becomes, if M*A*S*H had been on today, would it have made it past the first season, or would the network have pulled the plug prematurely?

Michael, Hannah and Rex - Awake

In fact, the series Awake grew on me during its short run. When I first started watching it, I was not that caught up in it, but decided to give it a chance. By the time it was canceled at the end of its first season run of 13 episodes shown over a period of 3 months, I really liked it. The characters had grown on me, and I was very upset it was canceled.

Zero Hour promo

I have had other programs sitting “on the bubble,” giving them a chance before abandoning them. In fact, it would probably be hard for me to choose an answer to this poll. I do normally tend to watch to the bitter end, but have to admit that after watching the third episode of Zero Hour, I was thinking that maybe I would not watch the next episode. The next day I read it had been canceled and the decision was made for me. Something similar happened with Do No Harm – except, I never did watch the second episode which I had taped for later viewing.

So, when watching a new TV show, when do you make your decision whether to stay or go? Please vote in the poll below, and then share your thoughts and reasons in the comment section below.