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.
FlashForward vs. VABC 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.
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.
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. itselfChuck 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 stays!
Heroes vs. fateHere 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!
Melrose Place, you better stop. That show is as good as dead.
Law & Order vs. Law & Order: SVU vs. Mercy vs. TraumaNBC 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 and Heroes) 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 greatnessDamages 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.
Caprica vs. the shadow of Battlestar GalacticaAfter a shaky start, Caprica seems to have stabilized in the ratings and improved in quality. But it's still being compared to its
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom