The major networks are just weeks away from announcing their new fall schedules. Some shows are guaranteed slots. (“The Bachelor,” we’ll be seeing you again. Sadly.) Others are definitely canceled. (Why, “Pushing Daisies,” why?) Yet to determine their fates are a number of shows who remain on the bubble between cancellation and renewal. Fans, start your online petitions now!
“My Name Is Earl”—NBC’s fortunes have plummeted in recent years, nowhere more visibly than on Thursday nights. Once upon a time, Thursday’s “Must See TV” comedy block was unassailable. Now, it can’t seem to find a hit. (“Kath & Kim,” anyone?) The net seems committed to Amy Poehler’s new vehicle “Parks and Recreation.” But the bloom might be off the rose for “My Name Is Earl,” which has resorted to some extremely funny, self-referential, biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you humor of late. (Earl recently complained about a bad dream in which he was hit by a car and went into a coma. “Who wants to see that?” he groused, having just described his show’s last, confused season.)
“Scrubs”—It was a little confusing why ABC stole this well-aged hospital sitcom from NBC, which canceled it last year. (ABC Studios actually produces the show and makes a pretty penny selling syndication rights. One more season means more eps to sell.) But will it return next season? Star Zach Braff is Audi 5000, and the show clearly wrapped up all its storylines on the recent season finale. ... But ABC likes money, so there’s a chance it could return in some horribly compromised form.
“Southland”/“Medium”/“Law & Order”—NBC seems to be confirming that “Southland” will be returning but has yet to say where this and the network’s other adult dramas will go. With Jay Leno hogging up five nights’ worth of the net’s 9 p.m. time slot, where exactly will NBC find room for them? The Saturday night death slot?
“Chuck”—NBC has really been waffling on this action comedy. The show got a soft reboot or two late in the season and concluded on what could be considered a series ender. But with a lot of holes in NBC’s schedule, this still holds measurable appeal to younger viewers. Chances for a fall return? Better than even.
“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”/“Dollhouse”—FOX consistently shows no love for science-fiction series, and yet the network keeps ordering them up. These Friday night ratings sinkholes are the latest to suffer FOX’s neglect. “Sarah Connor” has got a 50-50 shot with Terminator: Salvation hitting theaters this summer; but the challenging, inconsistent “Dollhouse” is all but dead. Hopefully Joss Whedon has learned his lesson this time: No more FOX, dude!
“Cold Case”/“Criminal Minds”/“Eleventh Hour”/“NCIS”/“The Unit”/all versions of “CSI”—Let’s face it: CBS’ schedule is lousy with crime fighters. The network has yet to confirm the return of any of these cop or cop-ish shows. While long-in-the-tooth ratings grabbers like “CSI” and “NCIS” are probably safe, “Eleventh Hour” is certainly a good bet for cancellation. The others remain iffy.