The networks are getting ready to announce their “upfronts”—that is to say, the new shows we’ll be seeing (maybe) this fall. Question is, which shows are going to be canceled in order to make way for this new prime-time product? While we know a few shows that have already been given the hook—“Better Off Ted,” “Defying Gravity, “Eastwick,” “Scrubs,” “Ugly Betty,” “Three Rivers,” “24,” “Brothers,” “Dollhouse,” “Past Life,” “Sons of Tucson”—many are still sitting on the bubble. That’s industry talk for: We might cancel them, we might not—depends on how badly our new pilots suck. So what’s on this precarious bubble and how much danger are they in? Let’s look.
“The Deep End” ABC was hoping this would be “Grey’s Anatomy” but with lawyers. It wasn’t and stands a solid chance of vanishing forever. “FlashForward” This series has switched showrunners every few months. The story is still going nowhere and ratings are slipping. With “Lost” ending, ABC seems mildly committed to owning another mythology-heavy show. But this probably isn’t it. “The Forgotten” You’ve got to admire Christian Slater for jumping on another crime series after “My Own Worst Enemy.” But this one is about to live up to its title. “V” Chances of renewal look slimmer every week, but a ridiculous four-month hiatus certainly didn’t help ratings. If ABC can find a groove on this show, there’s good reason for it to return in fall—if for no other reason than the net needs more hour-long action shows.
“Chuck” The show has already survived one cancellation drama. Newly rebooted, it’s probably good for another go. “Heroes” Nobody, but nobody thinks this increasingly shoddy piece of work should return. But it makes money in foreign territories and on DVD, so NBC is likely to squeeze another half-season out of it. “Mercy” Generic Medical Drama No. 419 is probably a goner. “Trauma” Ditto for Generic Medical Drama No. 420.
“Accidentally on Purpose” Everyone pegged this Jenna Elfman comedy as one of last season’s first new shows on deathwatch. Somehow it survived and actually looks strong for a second season. “Cold Case” CBS is lousy with police procedurals. This one is low on the totem pole and could disappear with little notice. “Gary Unmarried” The show sucks, but CBS has great luck with awful sitcoms (witness “Two and a Half Men”). “Medium” CBS just snatched this back from NBC. It’s cheaper to keep ’er. “The New Adventures of Old Christine” If CBS doesn’t pick it up for a fifth season, word is ABC will. “Numb3rs” Star David Krumholtz is already signed onto a pilot at FOX. Bad sign.
“Fringe” FOX has been pumping resources into this one, hoping to jumpstart ratings. It’s likely to get at least one more shot. “Human Target” Ratings aren’t paying off, but the show is good and FOX wants a stronger male demographic. Hopefully, they’ll give this one some time. “Lie to Me” FOX hasn’t done all that well with this wacky crimesolver, but this one will look good in syndication. “ ’Til Death” Why is this not already dead?
“Life Unexpected” Good reviews and mediocre ratings say this teen drama will do better in its second season. “Melrose Place” “90210” will be back, but there’s no room for this second-string reboot—Heather Locklear or no Heather Locklear.