Friday, March 14, 2008

Bubble Bubble, Shows In Trouble

I just came upon an interesting listing of shows that are "on the bubble" according to The Hollywood Reporter. They have a separate blog based on the pilot season complete with charts – lists actually – of the shows in development for each of the broadcast networks as well as a listing of the shows that are, as they put it, "renewed, pending or bubble." My big question I suppose is what the difference is between pending and bubble? Is a pending show more likely to have renewal or cancellation being announced sooner rather than later? Or are bubble just shows that no one knows the status of – or at least no one who is willing to talk. And of course as is usual with these things there are mistakes, or what seem to be mistakes but which may not be mistakes. Anyway, without much further ado (because I'll be commenting on so of the stuff as we go along) I present the listing of pending and bubble shows for each network.

Pending: Oprah's Big Give, Here Come the Newlyweds, Scrubs
Bubble: Men in Trees, Women's Murder Club, Boston Legal, Carpoolers, October Road, Just For Laughs, According to Jim

Comment: The interesting item here is Scrubs which is currently an NBC show. However it is produced by ABC Studios (which used to be Touchstone Studios) for NBC, and NBC doesn't seem that interested in keeping the show on the air, to the point where they decided not to give the show any post-strike episodes in what was supposed to be its final season. Then you have series star John C. McGinley saying that they had started shooting 18 new episodes for ABC next season. Meanwhile ABC Studios claimed that this was just routine reshoots...for a series that NBC hasn't ordered new episode for.

Three other items of some interest. The first is the presence of Carpoolers on the list – I thought it had been cancelled already. Next, just for the record, even if Just For Laughs is cancelled that doesn't mean it will stop being produced. The show is actually made for CBC in Canada (as Just For Laughs Gags) and repackaged for the American audience. Finally – and to me this was extremely surprising – most of the comments on the blog post were from people demanding that ABC renew October Road. And let me just say this about the prospect of According to Jim coming back yet again – AAARRRGH!!!!

Moonlight, Rules of Engagement, Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular, Big Brother, Power of 10, How I Met Your Mother
Bubble:Dexter (season 2 for CBS summer?), Jericho, Cane, Shark, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Unit, Welcome to the Captain

Comment: The Hollywood Reporter article suggested that How I Met Your Mother is likely to come back, even if it is the weak ratings link on the CBS Monday comedy line-up. The suggestion is that if it were cancelled other networks might consider grabbing it, on the grounds that a weak ABC comedyis better than most of the comedies that they have. The article also suggested that renewal is likely for Moonlight although that will likely depend on how strong the show's audience is when it returns. The show's fans are a passionate lot (and I admit that the show has grown on me) and it's a nice fit with Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs. On the other hand prospects aren't as bright for Jericho. While the show gets a strong gain in viewership thanks to DVRs, the ratings for the past couple of week have been weak. Then again when was the last time that CBS had a show last longer than one season in the third hour slot on Tuesday? Think back to Judging Amy for the answer. That would also seem to answer the Cane question.

A couple of other thoughts from me. I am assuming that the listing for Big Brother relates to it as a winter series, since they're apparently already casting for the next summer version. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the fate of Power of 10 is directly linked to the possibility of doing a once a week night time Price Is Right. They've done it as specials while Bob Barker was with the show but would they be willing to try it on a regular basis?

The CW
The Game, Beauty and the Geek
Bubble: Reaper, Aliens in America, Pussycat Dolls

Comments: Hollywood Reporter suggests that Reaper needed a strong (for The CW) performance against Lost to earn renewal. According to them the show "lost its way." They also claim that Aliens In America will be likely be cancelled. The show has been acclaimed critically but never really done well in the ratings despite being partnered with Everybody Hates Chris. I wonder how much of this assessment has to do with the decision by the network to close its Comedy Department. Finally (from me) I doubt that there's any real danger that Beauty and the Geek, which is just starting its fifth cycle, will be cancelled.

American Idol, America's Most Wanted, House, Don't Forget the Lyrics, Bones, Back to You, COPS, 5th Grader, Moment of Truth, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Til Death
Bubble: Unhitched, Prison Break, New Amsterdam, Canterbury's Law

Comments: Let's be absolutely clear about this – virtually none of the shows on the Pending list is in any danger of cancellation. The exceptions are Back to You, Til Death, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and I think it is realistic to suggest that they're safe too. In the case of the two comedies, they don't do that well, but they seem to work and do you really consider dropping them if you don't have anything to replace them with? The case around Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a bit different. According to the Hollywood Reporter article, "Fox executives like the creative product and thought the finale's performance last week was solid. The network also spent a considerable amount marketing the show, giving Season 2 some cost benefit. Also: The fourth Terminator movie comes out in 2009, and as The Simpsons Movie proved, there are promotional advantages to film-TV synergy." Prison Break is also likely to come back if a pitch for the fourth season is accepted. The big question is the new shows – Unhitched, New Amsterdam, and Canterbury's Law not to mention The Return of Jezebel James. Certainly the network didn't show much enthusiasm for New Amsterdam originally, first pulling it from the fall line-up just before they were about to debut and then cutting the episode order. Still, the show seems to be doing adequately in the ratings though obviously not as strong as 24 was in the same time slot last year. Then again, can you really compare a rookie series with little promotion to a major hit that was in its sixth season.

Deal or No Deal, The Office, My Name Is Earl, Knight Rider(?!), Friday Night Lights (w/ DirecTV), ER, 30 Rock

Bubble: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (via USA), Medium, 1 vs. 100, Amnesia, Lipstick Jungle

Comments: Another case were virtually all of the shows in the Pending list are going to be back. NBC is working out a deal with DirecTV to share the costs of doing Friday Night Lights in return for the satellite company being able to air the show first. The bubble shows seem fairly safe as well, with the possible exceptions of Amnesia (which I hate) and Lipstick Jungle which I like more than I'm probably meant to. Law & Order has already cast Anthony Anderson from this year's FOX series K-Ville to replace Jesse L. Martin, and Criminal Intent (which is still my favourite of the franchise – I'd love it even more if they'd keep Alicia Witt) has the neat side deal with the USA network that makes it a perfect replacement series.

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