Network Shows on the Bubble
by AOL TV Staff, posted May 8th 2010 9:00AM
Which shows are in jeopardy of not returning next season? We here at TV Squad have provided a network-by-network rundown of all the shows with question marks in their future.
Check out our comprehensive guide below. -- By Allison Waldman
For the most part, CBS has had a very good year. New series like 'Undercover Boss' and 'NCIS: LA' lived up to expectations and emerged as hits, and even though it's fallen off a bit lately, 'The Good Wife' is also a success.
But as the May upfront approaches, when the network has to make difficult decisions about what new shows to order and which programs to axe, it's a good time to assess what might happen. Here's our look at what's Tiffany network shows are on the brink ... and how it might play out.
1. 'Accidentally on Purpose' Despite a lot of quality pedigree behind the camera and a major star -- Jenna Elfman -- in front of it, this sitcom has struggled all season long in the ratings. And it's just not a very good comedy, straining to be funny. The last episode, when Billie finally had the baby, was the perfect way to end the show. It's not worth a renewal, especially if some of the proposed pilots like William Shatner's 'S**t My Father Says' get the greenlight.
2. 'Cold Case' This is just like last season's 'Without A Trace,' a vulnerable drama series that has been going down in the ratings. 'Cold Case' is a Jerry Bruckheimer series that's had a good run, but it's time to wrap it up. The novelty has worn off and after cost cuts this season -- including no more on location filming in Philadelphia -- it's a sign that 'Cold Case' has reached its end. Also, CBS has practically assured us that 'Hawaii Five-O' and the 'Criminal Minds' spinoff are locks for the fall. Something has to move to make room for those hours. This is one; 'Medium' could be the other.
3. 'Rules of Engagement' If you were to make an analogy to sports, 'Rules' is like a reliable back up quarterback for CBS. It's the perfect mid-season tonic for whatever sitcom is not living up to expectations on the schedule. 'Rules' probably deserves a spot to call its own, but watch for CBS to continue keeping it as the back up replacement sitcom, earmarked for the second season and not a fall pickup.
4. 'Medium' While it seemed like a good move last year for CBS to snag this supernatural drama from NBC and pair it with 'Ghost Whisperer' on Friday nights, it hasn't really panned out in the ratings. But how much of that reflects on the show or the lack of viewers on Friday nights? TVbythenumbers.com puts 'Medium' on the endangered list and that's probably a correct assessment. 'Ghost' has a better chance of surviving.
5. 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' The Wednesday night double shot of sitcoms has not worked out on CBS; neither 'Old Christine' nor 'Gary Unmarried' have offered much in the way of ratings zing. The former, at least, has critical approval and has had a good run. Last year, it was saved from cancellation by ABC offering to snatched it up if CBS let it go. That won't happen this go-round. Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be doing something else on TV in the near future.
6. 'Gary Unmarried' CBS will pull the plug on Jay Mohr's sitcom. It hasn't found a niche, and it failed when they've tried to move it into a Monday slot. There are too many new pilots in the works that have a better shot than another season of 'Gary.' For instance, there's a new Chuck Lorre sitcom waiting in the wings.
7. 'Two and a Half Men' Yes, CBS has already renewed 'Men' for two more years, but that extension has been jeopardized by the Charlie Sheen situation. If WB and CBS comes to terms with Sheen, which is likely, 'Men' will be back for the fall. It might be moved to 9:30 PM on Monday nights, but it will return. CBS has too much invested in this show's ongoing success to let Sheen bolt.
There are seven shows to be assessed at ABC. Overall, ABC has had a lot to be happy about this past season, especially the Wednesday night sitcom successes lead by the award-winning 'Modern Family.'
But amid the positives were the negatives, like 'the forgotten.' The Christian Slater action show was most definitely forgotten by viewers despite the Jerry Bruckheimer production. Looking ahead, here are the shows that ABC has yet to either cancel or renew thus far:
1. 'V' The ratings have not been what ABC had hoped for, but the sci-fi buzz for 'V' has been better than 'FlashForward,' and conventional wisdom in the biz is that one of these two ABC dramas will survive, if only so ABC can say one of its drama series made it this season. HitFlix suggested that 'V' warrants a better shot than it received from ABC, and we're inclined to agree.
2. 'FlashForward' All hope that 'FlashForward' would be the next 'Lost' faded after the showy debut and the ratings started to tumble. Despite a fascinating idea, 'FlashForward' has never caught fire with the audience -- not the way 'Lost' did. Hurting the prospects for a pick up is the size and scope of the show; it's too expensive for it not to be a popular success. When ABC adds it all up, 'V' is more likely for a renewal and 'FlashForward' will be a goner.
3. 'Romantically Challenged' As HitFix noted, the ratings have been decent for 'Romantically Challenged.' Better than the reviews, actually. Considering the quality of the cast – including Alyssa Milano and Kyle Bornheimer – ABC might stick with 'Romantically Challenged' with a mid-season pick up. Not a great vote of confidence, but a chance to re-jiggered and make the show better.
4. 'Happy Town' Although it's only recently premiered, things have not been happy for this mystery drama. It didn't even have the initial fascination of a 'Twin Peaks,' and ABC didn't help by sticking it in the Wednesday, 10 PM timeslot that was a graveyard for 'Ugly Betty.' 'Happy Town' has little chance to get picked up, but a good chance at being played out over the summer to resolve the mystery ... like CBS did with 'Harper's Island,' another wreck of a mystery show.
5. 'The Deep End' Do you even remember this legal drama? Don't chastise yourself; the ratings indicated that virtually nobody was watching. Collider.com thought it was already axed. To be honest, canceling 'The Deep End' is just a formality. It has no chance of coming back.
6. 'Better Off Ted' It would great if ABC decided to damn the ratings and renew 'Better Off Ted.' However, don't hold your breath. 'Ted' has a passionate fan base, but not a large one. If it were a cable show, the numbers would matter less and it would run. Alas, unless it migrates to another network, it's doomed. Too bad Fox doesn't snap it up; it has yet to develop a sitcom that's not animated.
7.'Scrubs' What are the chances that ABC would rescue 'Scrubs' one more time? Slim and none. Zach Braff has said on Facebook that the show's finished, and he's in a position to know.
[Watch clips and episodes from these shows on SlashControl.]
The past season was a tumultuous one for NBC, what with the Jay Leno experience turning the primetime schedule into a whirl. The fact that Leno's ten o'clock show was a disaster resulted in NBC scrambling to fill in during the second season. Fortunately, at least one legit hit has emerged -- 'Parenthood.'
Still, as the network contemplates the future, there's really six programs that could be called on the bubble, teetering between a pick up or a cancellation. So what is the likelihood that NBC will renew these shows?
1. 'Law & Order' It hasn't officially been renewed, but when Angela Bromstad, president of prime time entertainment, spoke about the Dick Wolf show, she practically assured it's coming back. "I'm a 'Law & Order' junkie. I wouldn't want to be responsible for not having 'Law & Order' break the record." That record is 21 years on the air, the longest drama in primetime history -- surpassing 'Gunsmoke.' That said, it's probably a sure-thing that Sam Waterson and company will return for another season.
2. 'Chuck' If it were up to the devoted, Subway-eating fans of 'Chuck,' there'd be no question that the show would be back. Just last week, they were staging a new save 'Chuck' campaign. Based on the quality of the episodes, 'Chuck' has had a 2010 season worthy of renewal, but the ratings remain a problem. An overly competitive Monday time slot hasn't helped. When all is said and done, 'Chuck' will probably get a mid-season renewal for 13 episodes.
3. 'Heroes' The only positive thing NBC can say about the once-stellar 'Heroes' is that it still has strong international appeal. That's not good enough to warrant a renewal. 'Heroes' reminds me of ABC's 'Ugly Betty,' a great show that flamed out really quickly.
4. 'Trauma' While a show like 'Parenthood' has thrived, 'Trauma' just hasn't caught on. And it's not an inexpensive production either. NBC won't continue to beat a dead horse. 'Trauma' will be axed in favor of something new, like 'The Rockford Files' remake that is a virtual lock for the fall schedule.
5. 'Mercy' Unlike 'Trauma,' 'Mercy' has a little buzz. Not much, but a little. It's right on the borderline between getting a second chance or not. If it was on USA Network instead of NBC, it probably would be given time to evolve. If I were betting on its future... well, I wouldn't. NBC will probably opt for something new coming out of pilot season. The network needs a new identity.
6. 'Law & Order: SVU' There's every reason to believe that the powers that be will see the wisdom in keeping the most watched 'Law & Order' securely on the schedule, especially since there's a chance of yet another spinoff, 'Law & Order: Los Angeles.' If only to placate Dick Wolf, and keep the 'L&O' brand strong, 'SVU' should be back, and likely bounce back from the debacle of moving it out of its 10 o'clock perch to accommodate Leno.
[Check out clips and episodes from these shows on SlashControl.]
When considering the future of some shows on Fox and the CW, in the case of the former, there are only a couple of programs on the fence. Fox, overall, has had a strong year highlighted by the success of 'Glee,' which trumps nearly any disappointment execs might have over already canceled shows like 'Sons of Tucson' or 'Past Life.'
On the other hand, the CW has a few hours teetering on the brink amid some solid, if not spectacular, already renewed shows like 'Vampire Diaries' and 'Supernatural.'
1. 'Human Target' The fact that '24' will not be coming back for a ninth year makes it likely that 'Human Target' will. Fox has something good with this show and given how they cultivated 'Fringe' after one season, it's logical that 'Human Target' will get the same opportunity. Bob made a good argument for why it should be back. Then there's this comment from Fox president Kevin Reilly, that this is a show he'd "like to bring back next year." If he feels that way, it's probably going to happen.
2. 'Lie To Me' In the same interview, Reilly told The Hollywood Reporter, "I already see that being a player next fall." That sounds like a major 'yes' vote to me. 'Lie to Me' also has fresh episodes to air between now and the fall, so it could pick up momentum -- and viewers -- before a relaunch in the new season. At the very least, 'Lie to Me' should get a mid-season nod.
1. 'Life Unexpected' Good notices and positive buzz could get a second season renewal for 'Life Unexpected.' Show creator Liz Tigelaar was cautiously optimistic when interviewed by SpoilerTV, saying, "Confident is too strong a word, but I feel positive about it. I don't mean that in competition with anybody else. I know there's a lot of speculation that either we're going to get picked up, or 'One Tree Hill' is, and maybe that's true. I think a lot of shows should get picked up. Ratings-wise, we seem on par, but there are so many factors that go into it."
2. 'One Tree Hill' Around since 2003, this may be the last of 'One Tree Hill,' even though the ratings are on par with CW's other shows. There is a back up possibility for the show; It could go to SOAPNet if the CW were to cancel it.
3. 'Melrose Place' This has never caught the buzz of the original 'Melrose Place,' even when they brought on members from the original cast, like Heather Locklear. According to SpoilerTV, "don't expect it back." We don't.