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Which TV shows live? Which ones die?

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Which TV shows live? Which ones die?

By Gail Pennington

POST-DISPATCH TELEVISION CRITIC

04/30/2006

copied from: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertain...80?OpenDocument

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FILE PHOTO: "Desperate Housewives," pose on the show's set. From left, are Nicollette Sheridan, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher.

(ABC,Moshe Brakha/AP)

The beginning of May usually means it's time to start fretting about the future of the TV shows we love. Which will find a place on the networks' fall schedules, we wonder - and which will meet an untimely death?

Most years, "save our shows" campaigns are in full swing by now, with fans campaigning to bring some favorite back from the brink of cancellation. This year, however, the networks, those spoilsports, have taken some of the suspense out of the announcement of their fall lineups, due the week of May 15.

CBS handed out early renewal notices to a long list of shows including "Criminal Minds," "Ghost Whisperer" and "How I Met Your Mother." Fox gave early pickups to "Prison Break" and "Bones," and NBC renewed "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office."

Some cancellation notices came out early, too, and not just for ABC's "Emily's Reasons Why Not," dumped after only one episode. CBS dropped "Yes, Dear," after all these years; Fox gave up on "Arrested Development." Cancellations of some long-running shows were dressed up as "series finales," as with NBC's "West Wing" and ABC's "Alias."

Some series, though, remain in limbo, on the proverbial bubble, meaning that the network's decisions could go either way. The schedules won't be finalized until days - sometimes hours - before the networks make their big announcements at ceremonies called "upfronts," so named because the point is to sell advertising in advance.

For network programmers, creating a schedule is a big chess game, with each move intensely weighed. Ratings count, but so do demographics, that important matter of who is watching. Younger viewers, as always, are more valued than older folks.

The decision-makers ponder how a show performs in its time period and whether that performance seems to be on the upswing or decline. Finally, there's the question of development, meaning how well the networks did in coming up with new shows. If the pilots for new shows look particularly promising, they may find a place on the schedule that otherwise might have gone to a marginal show.

Here are some "on the bubble" shows, with best guesses about their fates:

"Scrubs," NBC. The long-running screwball comedy looks like a great fit with NBC's new hits "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office." In fact, "Scrubs" would probably be a sure thing if not for difficulties in coming to new contract terms with NBC. The Hollywood trade papers, however, report that ABC would eagerly snatch up the sitcom if NBC dropped it. Best guess: renewed.

"Commander in Chief," ABC. The drama with Geena Davis as the first woman president started strong, then went into decline because of production problems and creative differences. Its recent return, drew half the audience of the fall debut. A fortune already has been poured into "Commander," and ABC - which needs to fill extra time next fall because of the loss of "Monday Night Football" - might take the summer to regroup again. But probably not. Best guess: canceled.

"Conviction," NBC. The non-"Law & Order" entry from Dick Wolf didn't make much of a splash on Friday nights, but anecdotal evidence indicates it's building an audience. Fourth-place NBC may not have the patience to stick with the show. Best guess: canceled.

"Veronica Mars," UPN. Shows on both UPN and the WB will feel a particular pinch this spring as the networks merge into the CW, leaving room for only half as much programming. But low-rated, critically adored "Veronica" has an ally in Dawn Ostroff, former head of UPN entertainment, who'll now be programming the CW. Best guess: renewed.

"Everwood," the WB. Ditto all that about "Veronica Mars," including the critically adored part. But many observers don't think the CW will pick up both "Everwood" and "One Tree Hill" from the WB - and "Hill" does better with younger viewers. Best guess: canceled.

"Close to Home," CBS. The problem for the Jennifer Finnigan drama about crime in suburbia is that CBS has so many other strong crime shows. The network also scored with newcomer "The Unit," almost certain to return for fall. That could leave "Home" with nowhere to call home. Best guess: canceled.

"The New Adventures of Old Christine," CBS. Every network is looking for the next hot sitcom. This Julia Louis-Dreyfus show probably isn't the next "Seinfeld," but it's probably good enough to win a vote of confidence over other CBS sitcoms, including "Out of Practice" and "Courting Alex." Best guess: renewed.

"The O.C.," Fox. The one-time favorite has run thin on story lines, and its young protagonists graduate from high school this spring. But Fox may decide it still can't do better on Thursday nights. Best guess: renewed.

"Invasion," ABC. The network had high hopes for the pairing of "Invasion" with "Lost," but the "Lost" audience didn't stick around in the numbers the network would have liked. With all that extra time to fill in the fall, ABC might look for a different time period for the aliens-among-us thriller, but it's a close call. Best guess: canceled.

These shows already have been renewed or are almost sure to return:

"The Amazing Race" and "Survivor," CBS

"American Dad," Fox

"America's Next Top Model," UPN/CW

"Boston Legal," ABC

"Cold Case," CBS

"Crossing Jordan," NBC

The "CSI" franchise, CBS

"Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost," ABC

"ER," NBC

"Everybody Hates Chris," UPN/CW

"Gilmore Girls," "Smallville," "Reba" and "Supernatural," WB/CW

"House," Fox

"Law & Order," "Special Victims Unit" and "Criminal Intent," NBC

"Las Vegas," NBC

"Medium," NBC

"NCIS," CBS

"Numb3rs," CBS

"The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "King of the Hill," Fox

"Two and a Half Men," CBS

"Prison Break" and "24," Fox

"Without a Trace," CBS

These shows have been canceled, or are likely to be:

"The Bedford Diaries," WB

"Bernie Mac," Fox

"Freddie," ABC

"Hope & Faith," ABC

"Joey," NBC

"Less Than Perfect," ABC

"Love Monkey," CBS

"Still Standing," CBS

"Surface," NBC

"Threshold," CBS

"Yes, Dear," CBS

"What About Brian," ABC

"Cuts," "Eve," "Love Inc." and "One on One," UPN

"Living With Fran," "Modern Men," "Related" and "Twins," WB

These shows runs are ending:

"Will & Grace"

"The West Wing"

"7th Heaven"

"Charmed"

"Alias"

"That '70s Show"

"Malcolm in the Middle"

Make your voice heard

Do the TV networks care what you think? There's a good chance the answer is no, unless you have a Nielsen box. But if you'd still like to vent, visit their Web sites (for example, www.nbc.com and www.cbs.com) and look for the "comment" or "feedback" bar, usually at the bottom of the page.

Or get out old-fashioned pen and paper and write:

Stephen McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment, 2300 Riverside Drive, Burbank, Calif. 91521

Nina Tassler, president, CBS Entertainment, 7800 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif. 90036

Kevin Reilly, president, NBC Entertainment, 3000 West Alameda Avenue, Burbank, Calif. 91523

Peter Liguori, president, Fox Entertainment, Box 900, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90213

Dawn Ostroff, president, the CW Entertainment, 11800 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif. 90025. The CW is the new network that replaces the WB and UPN next season.

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I think it's really disappointing that CBS will most likely keep Old Christine which is GARBAGE over Out of Practice which has been treated like crap from the start. It had very strong ratings and did MUCH MUCH better than How I Met Your Mother in EVERY demographic, yet Mother got an early renewal! Ugh!

Over at ABC I will never stop being pissed about Crumbs. That series was so good and deserved better based on it's ratings alone.

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I'm still annoyed with CBS for giving up on Threshold so fast. :angry: I liked it better than Invasion at first, it moved faster, had better action and a more quirky cast of characters. It took about half the season for Invasion to pick up the pace, and then they started featuring that Excedrin migraine actress, which was kind of annoying. :P But the show got better as the invasion was becoming less of a secret. I think William Fichtner's the best thing about the show. I'm kind of relieved "The Evidence" fared poorly in its timeslot, even though I love Martin Landau.

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B)-->

QUOTE(Chris B @ Apr 29 2006, 02:56 PM)

I think it's really disappointing that CBS will most likely keep Old Christine which is GARBAGE over Out of Practice which has been treated like crap from the start. It had very strong ratings and did MUCH MUCH better than How I Met Your Mother in EVERY demographic, yet Mother got an early renewal! Ugh!

I love Old Christine. It has gotten better every week and JLD is so hilarious.

I wish Scrubs would move to ABC but I don't care as long as it's renewed. It's my favorite show.

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I'm still annoyed with CBS for giving up on Threshold so fast. I liked it better than Invasion at first, it moved faster, had better action and a more quirky cast of characters. It took about half the season for Invasion to pick up the pace, and then they started featuring that Excedrin migraine actress which was kind of annoying. But the show got better as the invasion was becoming less of a secret. I think William Fichtner's the best thing about the show. I'm kind of relieved "The Evidence" fared poorly in its timeslot, even though I love Martin Landau.
Threshold ended up being a big hit in the UK! The problem is that it was put on fridays before a woman friendly show. It should've been on during the week from the beginning. The move was too little too late. :(

I love Old Christine. It has gotten better every week and JLD is so hilarious.

Oh I completely disagree, I think it's garbage, but I did love Watching Ellie. Whatever happened to that show? I remember it was doing well in the ratings as well. Then again, NBC was a hit then so they probably let more good, medium sized hits go.

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I thought Close to Home was renewed? I like it, it's the only drama I picked up this season. I'm still mad about Arrested Development. And I love Scrubs, it has gotten better with each season.

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I love Old Christine. It has gotten better every week and JLD is so hilarious.

I agree with you Roger, This weeks eppy was hilarious! I just hope we see more of Wanda Sykes next season.

"Close to Home," CBS. The problem for the Jennifer Finnigan drama about crime in suburbia is that CBS has so many other strong crime shows. The network also scored with newcomer "The Unit," almost certain to return for fall. That could leave "Home" with nowhere to call home. Best guess: canceled.

These people are on crack! There's no way CBS will cancel CTH. The show is doing better than Ghost Whisperer and gets almost the same numbers as Numb3rs.

It's Friday nights #2 show

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I hope hope hope ABC keeps Freddie, along with the Lopez/Freddie hour, can be very successful. They can trash Jim and Rodney. I agree, it was dumb to cancel Crumbs.

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I wish Crumbs was given more of a chance too, it was one of the best new comedies in years.

I hope According to Jim gets canceled, I absolutely hate the show and Jim Belushi. The show might have been good with a different lead actor lol.

I love OLD CHRISTINE, another best new comedy in years.

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