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The Exorcist saved: Fox surprises by renewing horror drama

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Jean Whiteside/FOX

It’s the devil’s work!

Fox has renewed The Exorcist for a second season. In a surprise move, the Friday night horror series that was seemingly left for dead last winter will return for another round.

Typically, fall shows that finish out their short initial order without the network ordering any more episodes are almost always canceled (Exorcist was plotted as a 10-episode arc but still — it’s a long time for a broadcast show to sit on the shelf without any forward movement). But just a few days before Fox’s upfront presentation to advertisers, The Exorcist was resurrected. The network suggested some potential creative changes, promising “a new chapter of the iconic franchise.” 

When you look at the ratings — and the ratings of Fox’s other bubble dramas — the decision makes a certain kind of sense. The Exorcist averaged 3.2 million viewers and a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. Now, those are not good ratings. At all. But here are the adult demo ratings for some of Fox’s other hourlong shows this season: Rosewood (1.0 and now canceled), APB (1.2 and canceled), Sleepy Hollow (0.9 and now canceled), and Scream Queens (1.0 and… we’re waiting for news). So when you look at those numbers, and you look at Exorcist doing a 1.2 in a time slot that was the toughest one of all, plus the reviews weren’t half-bad, and suddenly you start to think, Well… maybe? 

Which isn’t to say we saw this one coming when we originally wrote our Deathwatch predictions last month; we thought Exorcist was likely going straight to cancellation hell. But in recent days, the buzz mill turned positive for the show, and we updated our prediction to a more hopeful take. “Works in mysterious ways,” etc.