While it’s looking less and less likely that the CW will renew The Game sitcom for a fourth year, series creator Mara Brock Akil is apparently interesting in changing the show in order to score a renewal. Is it a winning strategy?
The Game is a spin-off of the Girlfriends, the once successful sitcom that ended abruptly last season. Premiering in 2006, The Game revolves around Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry), a first year medical student who gives up her school plans to follow her professional football playing boyfriend Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall). Others in the cast include Brittany Daniel, Coby Bell, Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson.
In its first season, The Game averaged 2.3 million viewers each week. For season two, the ratings dropped to 2.07 million and a .96 rating in the 18-49 demographic. This season, CW execs have stranded the series in a little-watched Friday night timeslot. It’s fallen to an average of 1.68 million viewers and a tiny 0.7 rating in the demo.
Along with fellow sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, The Game hasn’t exactly been a ratings powerhouse. It looks very likely that Chris will be cancelled in May but will have 88 episodes, enough for a syndication run that’s scheduled to start on Nick at Nite this Fall. In contrast, The Game will only have 64 episodes.
A renewal for The Game would create a programming conundrum for the CW. With no other half-hour programs in development, they’d have an orphan half-hour in their timeslot to fill.
The Hollywood Reporter says that one possible solution would be to turn The Game into an hour-long dramedy. The change wouldn’t be a big stretch since the sitcom doesn’t use a studio audience and already mixes comedy with drama. Akil is expected to pitch the idea to the network sometime this week.
The plan is considered a longshot at best considering The Game’s weak ratings and the fact that it doesn’t mesh well with the network’s upcoming slate of dramas. Switching time formats could also cause a problem in syndication, unless each of the hour episodes could be cut into two 30 minute installments.
If the CW network ultimately passes on renewing The Game, the show could still continue. In February, the BET cable channel signed a syndication deal to air the first three seasons. At the time, Barbara Zaneri, BET’s Executive VP of Acquisitions, told Variety, “This [show] is something I went after the minute I got to BET. Not only does it have really fresh African-American stars, but it has a great lineup of guest stars. People like Robin Givens and Vivica Fox — these are people who are regularly on our network.”
It’s been reported (and Mowry recently confirmed) that BET execs have discussed with CBS the possibility of funding a fourth year. The deal would likely entail some cost-cutting to make the deal affordable for the cable channel but it’s in CBS’ best interests to make it work.
Will the show get some “extra innings” or is The Game over? We’ll likely have to wait until May 21st to find out for sure.
Image courtesy CW.