OC order cut back

The future of Orange is looking Grey.

Fox is ordering only 16 episodes of the Southern California teen drama The OC for next season. The normal episode order for a full season is 22, but The OC has averaged 25 for its three seasons so far, so the cutback is casting doubt about the future of the show beyond next season.

The new season of The OC doesn't premiere until November 2, due to the Major League Baseball season. According to Variety, Fox will be done with the show in February, and may look to replace it with a midseason series. The fact that most of the teen cast will be leaving high school and going to college, along with the death of a major character at the end of last season, indicates that Fox may be wrapping up the show.

The OC has slipped in the ratings this past season, and ABC announced it is moving powerhouse Grey's Anatomy opposite the show in the 9 p.m. time slot. When it premiered in August 2003, The OC averaged around 8 million viewers a week and had a high "cool factor," with popular bands playing on the show and its soundtrack. The show sank to a weekly average of 5 million viewers in the 2005-2006 season.

Thursday has always been a competitive night, ever since the demise of NBC's dominant "must see TV" shows Friends and Seinfeld. At one point, the battle for Thursday was again heating up when NBC slated the Aaron Sorkin SNL parody Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip for the night, opposite current ratings champ CSI on CBS. When ABC made the decision to move ascendant Grey's Anatomy to the 9 p.m. time slot as well, NBC balked and moved Studio 60 to Mondays at 10 p.m.

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