Television programming has now become a true science that hasn't deviated by decree of a new generation of network executives. One of those surefire scientific principles is the midseason replacement and the near guarantee that at least one of them will become a breakout hit after the first of the year. The only aspect that's ever bogged the midseason replacement into a state of abject mystery is why network executives don't place midseason replacements into the fall season rather than in spring.
Perhaps the reason is that networks are afraid of the attention deficit crowd who want something different in a new year rather than a continuing series. Out of that fear may come desperation in trying to find a hit for early 2013. And fear sometimes breeds a lack of logic that may end up making 2013 the first year ever a midseason replacement didn't hit it off with the public.
We can't always base the above opinion on a concept. But let's take a look at some new and upcoming midseason shows that could swing wide from wild success to crash and burn.
The nighttime soap opera is arguably overdue for a renaissance, even if your quality-searching writer wants it locked away in the 1980s. It's possible that "Deception" will manage such a revival while subsequently bringing back a mystery theme. In this one, we see a wealthy socialite murdered, and her close friend suspects the departed socialite's family had culpability.
Call this close to "Homeland" territory where we go through a whole season wondering who's guilty and who isn't. And because mysteries and soap operas reel in gullible viewers, this may be back in the fall of 2013 with a multi-season run. Or, with the "Homeland" mystery concept already long out of the bag and 1980's greed still hissed at, "Deception" could be an early casualty.
Do No Harm (NBC)
NBC may have the least midseason success based on ABC's more interesting show concepts (see below). Nevertheless, you can't find fault with a new show exploring the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality complex. That becomes even more intriguing when the lead is a doctor.
With mental illness being a spotlight issue recently, this could resonate, especially with split personality disorders. It has to tread carefully, though, as not to make the Hyde side too ostentatious.
Zero Hour (ABC)
Here we have a show that could be a real breakout, no matter if it's the only one of the season. The trailer for "Zero Hour" looks better than most theatrical movies, and the budget shows a massive expense. It's also the return of Anthony Edwards to TV, the previously most underrated actor on the small screen.
Because this is about an international conspiracy (utilizing clocks and Nazis to name two), it's going to be another personal investment show requiring much time on the viewer's part. It worked for "Lost" once, yet didn't for similar grand conspiracy shows "The Event" and "Awake." Audiences may or may not want to invest so much time into such a show again unless "Zero Hour" becomes too essential.
If this doesn't gel, ABC's other midseason show "Red Widow" may. The idea of a widow in a mafia family must have been one of the easiest green-light TV pitches available today.