TV Guide has a great article about shows in their Sophomore Slump. Revolution comes to mind for me.
One of the parts of the article that caught me was talking about how Scandal rebooted itself from a procedural show into a serialized show. If you haven’t watched Scandal you really need to fire up Netflix and get caught up on the first two seasons. I promise you will get hooked.
Dungey points to Scandal as a success story: Much of that show’s first season focused on stand-alone procedural stories. But at the end of that year, the network and producers regrouped and capitalized on the serialized stories that had emerged.
"The first season didn’t set the world on fire, but if you look at [the final two episodes], it showed potential,“ Dungey says. "It became part of the conversation as we started arguing for a second season. As the show developed it became more serialized. That was a direction where they were cooking.”
But in rebooting a show in its sophomore frame, you don’t want to scare away existing fans while chasing a new audience. “You have to be cautious,” Dungey says. “What you’re trying to do is broaden that tent and hopefully bring more people than were there in the first season. That’s becoming harder to do. You hear stories about the Season 1 of Seinfeld or Friends being super soft and then they and grew. That doesn’t happen as much anymore.”
The next hump for producers: securing a third year. By that time, syndication is on the horizon, and a network and studio have invested enough time and cash that they really don’t want to cancel a show unless it’s a complete disaster. “Getting a show off the ground is no easy feat and it takes a little while to settle in,” Beggs says. “Getting to a third season generally suggests longevity to go to many more.