It's decision time for TV networks, which means it's fingernail-biting time for several of your favorite shows. Every year, executives decide who lives and who dies based on antiquated metrics, "brand sizzle" (that's an actual term that execs use and love), and marketability. And every year, they don't bother to ask you or me what we think should remain on the air. Those jerks.
That leaves us with a handful of shows that are battling against something to avoid cancellation. It may be another show, it may be some weird preconception, but it's an obstacle either way. Here's a look at some of this year's most interesting match-ups.
ABC hoped to fill the massive void that looms in the wake of Lost
's imminent departure with these big-budget sci-fi shows, but neither has resonated with fans of the time-traveling, universe-splitting drama. The thinking is that one will live and one will be put to rest, with the odds in favor of V
sticking around for another season. Because it has hot aliens.
CBS is home to ratings hogs The Big Bang Theory
and Two and a Half Men
, which makes every other comedy on the network (except for the well-liked How I Met Your Mother
) look like unprofitable chopped liver. All three of these shows perform okay, but okay isn't good enough for America's most-watched network. And with hot new laughers from Chuck Lorre (Mike & Molly
) and Matt Tarses (True Love
)—not to mention William Shatner
's [Expletive] My Dad Says
—waiting in the wings, other shows will be forced to give up their spots. We're guessing at least two say goodbye to The Eye, with Accidentally on Purpose
and Gary Unmarried
most likely to meet the axe.
With the cancellation of 24
, Human Target
's chances of not becoming another Human Target
(1993 edition) improved dramatically. But it's an expensive show that hasn't resonated with viewers. Lie to Me
does fine, but appears to be middling and isn't really on Fox's radar (the network pulled the show off its schedule until this summer). The chances that both show come back next year aren't good, but one of them will probably survive; tie goes to the show that is cheaper to make, and that's probably Lie to Me
Chuck vs. itself
is the ultimate bubble show. It's got insane fans that will feast on fast food to save it, it's got media support, and it's got pretty weak ratings. Here's what Chuck
has going for it: NBC is in a lot of trouble and needs shows to fill its schedule. So while it previously seemed like Chuck
was in trouble, recent reports
say it's getting another season. And we guess that makes a lot of you pretty darned happy. Our prediction: Chuck
Here we are again, Heroes
. Bubble time and your name pops up, like clockwork. Your ratings are digging a hole to the center of the Earth, and your quality has already arrived in China. By all accounts, you should have been canceled a long time ago. But you inexplicably persevere, and it looks as though you may do so again with a 13-episode "final season," according to The Hollywood Reporter
. NBC: where mediocrity lives!
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The CW's fight to the death. In the red corner, we have the veteran, a seven-season teen drama with fanatical supporters. In the blue corner, we have the feisty up-and-comer, bright and shiny and oozing with potential. The CW has renewed a bunch of its shows already, leaving one last spot on its roster for one of these two shows. As for which one will make it to the next round, your guess is as good as mine. Oh, and in case you care about Melrose Place
, you better stop. That show is as good as dead.
NBC has to figure out what to do with these shows, but as we've said before, the network didn't anticipate such a disastrous schedule. Remember, NBC's Jeff Zucker promised that the primetime Jay Leno Show
would be on the air for a full year, regardless of its ratings. NBC hadn't planned to oust Leno from primetime so quickly; as a result, the network is behind on development. That gives all four of shows (plus Chuck
) a better chance at survival this year. That said, we assume that among these four, seniority wins. And a show can't grow much older than the elderly Law & Order
. Say bye-bye, newbies.
Damages vs. its own greatness
is one of my favorite shows, which automatically means nobody watches it. The third season just came to an end with less than a million viewers, and FX is rumored to be heading in a more general-audience direction (contrary to the cable network's prior ideology
) and on the hunt for more mass-appeal shows. Awards are nice as paperweights, but FX wants some green paper to weigh down. Damages
does not fit this mold, and the motion that DirecTV could help save it by footing part of the production bill has been denied. As much as we'd like to see the show stay, we're guessing it's a goner
. We'll miss you, Ellen Parsons.
After a shaky start, Caprica
seems to have stabilized in the ratings and improved in quality. But it's still being compared to its
second cousin Battlestar Galactica
, for better or for worse: It has the same darkly thoughtful BSG
sci-fi that put SyFy on the map, but also lower ratings than even the disappointing fourth season of BSG
. Still, SyFy execs say they're in it "for the long haul,"
so we expect the show to return. But when have we ever really trusted network execs?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom