TV Cancellation Watch: The Experts Weigh In

  • Publish Date: February 12, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 97 user comments

Which "bubble" shows have a chance at returning for another season?

This week, a number of experts offered their odds for the renewal of lower-rated network programs that potentially face cancellation at the end of the 2009-10 season (if not sooner). Michael Schneider of Variety, Josef Adalian of The Wrap, and James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter each posted fresh assessments within the past few days, while Bill Gorman of TVbytheNumbers posted his forecasts last week (and updates them periodically). Here's what they predicted about key shows:

ABC Programs

Better Off Ted 84

ImageIs "Ted" off?

CONSENSUS: "Ted," sadly, is dead.

We love it. The critics love it. The few of you who watched it seem to love it. The key phrase, however, was "the few of you," as ABC's second-year comedy attracted well under 3 million viewers per episode for much of its brief run. Note that the network still has two remaining episodes that haven't aired yet, so the best fans could hope for is that those turn up someday.

Adalian: Dead
Gorman: Very likely cancellation
Hibberd: 5% chance of renewal
Schneider: Likely cancellation

Castle

CONSENSUS: Should be back.

ABC's self-produced Nathan Fillion procedural has held onto a consistent audience throughout its two seasons, and TVbytheNumbers' Gorman notes that "Castle" looks even better in comparison to the network's other hourlong programs, which have been, for the most part, declining.

Adalian: n/a
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: n/a
Schneider: Fairly good chance at returning

The Deep End 40

CONSENSUS: The end is near.

While ABC was hoping for another "Grey's Anatomy"-style hit with its new legal drama, it now looks like the network will be lucky to get even one more week out of "The Deep End," whose 18-49 ratings are low for any night, let alone Thursdays.

Adalian: "Already canceled. It just doesn't know it yet."
Gorman: Certain cancellation
Hibberd: 5% renewal
Schneider: Doesn't look good

FlashForward 72

CONSENSUS: To be determined.

The show's future will not be decided until it returns from a three-month hiatus next month, but the fact that "FlashForward" is now on its third showrunner is certainly a warning sign -- and the fact that ratings fell consistently through its first batch of episodes is another. Even critics, who originally praised the show, found it disappointingly inconsistent as it progressed. Gorman predicts that the show faces certain cancellation unless it can post higher numbers when it returns.

Adalian: A chance of returning, though "all signs ... point to cancellation"
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 40% renewal
Schneider: Won't know until show returns

The Forgotten 45

CONSENSUS: Forget it (if you haven't already).

The title of this mediocre Christian Slater drama could not be more apt; viewers have been abandoning "The Forgotten" rapidly since its fall premiere. Not every Jerry Bruckheimer series can be a hit.

Adalian: Unlikely to return
Gorman: Certain cancellation
Hibberd: 35% renewal
Schneider: Doesn't look good

Scrubs 64

CONSENSUS: This time, it's really gone.

A rare case of a show being renewed by a network almost against its fans' wishes, "Scrubs" was basically an entirely different program in this, its ninth season, and its ratings have suffered considerably as a consequence. At least the series was able to go out with a great finale ... last year.

Adalian: "The prognosis is very bleak."
Gorman: Likely cancellation, with only a "very tiny possibility" of a return
Hibberd: 5% renewal
Schneider: Likely cancellation

V 67

CONSENSUS: To be determined.

The fate of "V" is even harder to forecast than that of fellow sci-fi newcomer "FlashForward," since the hiatus for the former is even longer (a full four months), and only four episodes of the series have aired to date. However, during its brief fall run, "V" posted strong enough ratings to merit renewal if it can duplicate those numbers in the spring. Adalian also sees hope for the show in that ABC will be lacking "male-skewing, action-focused hours" once "Lost" concludes in May.

Adalian: Possible renewal
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 60% renewal
Schneider: Won't know until show returns

CBS Programs

Although CBS has the enviable position of making decisions while sitting atop the ratings, the network's viewership (like that of everyone but Fox) is down compared to the previous season, and not every one of its shows is a strong performer. (Note that CBS and Metacritic are both owned by CBS Corporation.)

Accidentally on Purpose 49

CONSENSUS: Maybe definitely a possibility of perhaps returning.

Image"Look -- it's our Nielsen ratings"

A number of CBS comedies are on the bubble, and which ones (if any) return depend in part on how many hours the network will devote to sitcoms next season. Out of all of CBS's bubble-coms, this first-year Jenna Elfman series might be the most vulnerable -- Hibberd calls it "a drag on the Eye’s powerhouse comedy lineup" -- but its ratings have shown a slight uptick in recent weeks, and the network will test the show in a new timeslot in March before deciding on its fate.

Adalian: Likely cancellation
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 50% renewal
Schneider: Uncertain

Cold Case

CONSENSUS: A slight chance at renewal, but it will have to heat up.

On the bubble last year, this seventh-year procedural is suffering from a marked decline in ratings this season. To make matters worse, as Adalian points out, is that "Cold Case" is also an expensive show to produce -- making cancellation a possibility even if viewership improves this spring.

Adalian: Probably gone, but not certain
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: 50% renewal
Schneider: Probably gone, but not certain

Gary Unmarried

CONSENSUS:Too soon to tell.

This second-year sitcom isn't exactly a ratings dynamo, but its numbers are about the same as they were last year, when the show was renewed for another season. As the pundits indicate, much hinges upon whether CBS schedules six or eight comedies next season, and how "Gary" performs relative to the other sitcoms on the bubble..

Adalian: May return if "Rules of Engagement" doesn't
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: Too early to guess
Schneider: Uncertain

Medium

CONSENSUS: A medium-to-good chance of returning.

While it's certainly not a lock to return for a seventh season, the drama performs reasonably well for a Friday show, and the experts seem to agree with each other that CBS is unlikely to cancel more than one of its Friday night programs (with "Numb3rs" easily the leading contender to get the ax). However, Gorman notes that a strong performance by the network's upcoming "Miami Medical" could pose a slight threat.

Adalian: "A good bet to return"
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 65% renewal
Schneider: "Probably safe"

The New Adventures of Old Christine

CONSENSUS: Too soon to tell.

This Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy somehow survived to return for this, its fifth season, despite performing poorly during season four. The decision seems to have paid off for CBS, as "Christine's" numbers are improved this year. Still, the show comes from an outside production company, meaning that all other things being equal, CBS might opt for one of its home-grown comedies instead.

Adalian: "50-50"
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: Too early to guess
Schneider: Uncertain

Numb3rs

CONSENSUS: Its days are numbered.

Here's a hint: if a show's star takes a job at another program, his former show probably won't be around much longer. Since Numb3rs had its episode order cut for this season, and lead David Krumholtz has just signed up to star in a pilot for Fox, well, you do the math.

Adalian: Likely cancellation
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 20% renewal
Schneider: Likely cancellation

CW Programs

Life Unexpected 69

CONSENSUS: Expected to live another year.

A throwback "WB-style" family drama, "Life Unexpected" scored positive reviews and has posted decent ratings (at least, for the CW). Too few episodes have aired to guarantee its renewal, but Gorman notes that if it can maintain its current 18-49 numbers, the show will be back next season.

Adalian: Uncertain
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: 55% renewal
Schneider: n/a

Melrose Place 57

CONSENSUS: Try again in another 20 years.

While the CW's 90210 reboot appears a safe bet to return for a third season, its counterpart, "Melrose Place," is a lock for cancellation.

Adalian: "It's hard to see a scenario where MP returns"
Gorman: Certain cancellation
Hibberd: 5% renewal
Schneider: Likely cancellation

Fox Programs

24

CONSENSUS: May live to see another day.

Image"I have ways of making you renew my show."

Factors other than ratings (which are decent but declining) may impact the decision to bring Jack Bauer (or a replacement?) back for a ninth day -- and we're not talking about how difficult it would be to come up with an original storyline at this point (which hasn't influenced decision-making in the past). The key factor is the show's cost, which is especially important given that, as Hibberd notes, the show has "little syndication value." Even if Fox finally pulls the plug on "24," the concept may live on as a theatrical movie.

Adalian: Uncertain
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: 40% renewal
Schneider: Somewhat likely cancellation

Brothers 53

CONSENSUS: It won't be back.

The sitcom's first season has already concluded its short run, and while Fox hasn't officially canceled the poorly-rated show, it's hard to find anyone who thinks it will return.

Adalian: Dead
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: n/a
Schneider: n/a

Fringe 75

CONSENSUS: Should return, in at least one universe.

Fox did this sci-fi show no favors by moving it to Thursdays for its second season, but "Fringe" performed reasonably well with key demographic groups, despite slumping in the early part of the season. The show also benefits from strong buzz and positive reviews, but renewal depends on what Fox decides to do with the other bubble shows on its schedule.

Adalian: Probably safe
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: 90% renewal
Schneider: Uncertain

Human Target 70

CONSENSUS: May be targeted for cancellation.

This graphic novel-inspired action show is still too new to foresee its future, especially since Fox has shifted it among multiple days and timeslots. "Human Target" has had mixed results since settling into its regular period and losing its "American Idol" lead-in, but Hibberd points out that this is the same network that gave the struggling "Dollhouse" a second chance, so anything is possible.

Adalian: Not encouraging, but possible
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: 55% renewal
Schneider: Uncertain

Lie to Me

CONSENSUS: We'd be lying if we said we knew.

This Tim Roth procedural earned a second season despite shedding viewers throughout its debut year, and while bringing in a new showrunner ("The Shield's" Shawn Ryan) has seemingly stabilized viewership this season, ratings aren't strong enough to guarantee renewal.

Adalian: n/a
Gorman: Some danger of cancellation
Hibberd: n/a
Schneider: Uncertain

Past Life 43

CONSENSUS: It could be more like "Short Life."

Although it only debuted this week, "Past Life's" dismal ratings (it was outperformed on Thursday by ABC's "The Deep End," which itself is likely to be canceled) don't point to a long run. [UPDATE: Past Life was officially canceled on February 19th.]

Adalian: Not encouraging
Gorman: n/a
Hibberd: n/a
Schneider: n/a

'Til Death

CONSENSUS: Dead.

While its miserable ratings performance seems to guarantee the show's death, several of the experts point out that this sitcom is unusually cheap to produce, meaning a return is not impossible. The show did, for example, finish 141st in the ratings last season, only to score a renewal.

Adalian: Almost certainly gone
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: n/a
Schneider: Uncertain

NBC Programs

For NBC in general, keep in mind that some shows on the cusp of cancellation might get a reprieve since the network has a lot of holes to fill, thanks to the departure of The Jay Leno Show.

Chuck 73

ImageEverybody loves Chuck

CONSENSUS: No petitions needed; it'll be back.

Perennial bubble show Chuck is performing well for NBC on Monday nights, and a return is looking almost certain, unless viewers forget to tune in after its Olympic-mandated hiatus.

Adalian: "Almost certain" renewal
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: 75% renewal
Schneider: Possible renewal

Community 69

CONSENSUS: Get ready for sophomore year.

First-year comedy "Community" certainly isn't among television's highest-rated shows, but the network has demonstrated a willingness to be patient with its low-rated but well-regarded Thursday comedies in the past, and will probably do the same now. As Hibberd and Gorman point out, NBC has already renewed "Parks & Recreation," which has even lower ratings than "Community."

Adalian: Possible renewal
Gorman: Likely renewal
Hibberd: 90% renewal
Schneider: n/a

Heroes

CONSENSUS: If it comes back at all, it'll be for a brief farewell.

While NBC owns "Heroes" -- which helps its renewal chances, the show is very expensive to produce. And its already low ratings are trending downward; viewership this season is less than half of what it was two seasons ago, and is declining by the week.

Adalian: Likely cancellation, but could come back for short farewell season
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: 60% chance of renewal, possibly for 12 episodes
Schneider: Could go either way

Mercy 41

CONSENSUS: It will take an act of mercy to save this show.

NBC's first-year medical drama received tepid reviews and, after starting somewhat strong, has become one of Wednesday night's least-watched programs. The fact that NBC produces the show itself, and the major holes in the network's schedule, give "Mercy" a slight chance at returning, but it's a longshot. Ratings had actually been improving slightly over the past few airings, but the Olympic hiatus might kill that momentum.

Adalian: "Small chance" of renewal
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: 25% chance of renewal
Schneider: May return

Trauma 53

CONSENSUS: A goner.

NBC's other first-year medical drama receives even lower ratings than "Mercy," and performs miserably on Monday nights. The show was semi-canceled last fall, only to get a reprieve after the Leno fiasco, when NBC was forced to order more "Trauma" episodes to help fill the five-hour void in its primetime schedule.

Adalian: Almost certain cancellation
Gorman: Likely cancellation
Hibberd: 15% chance of renewal
Schneider: May return if Mercy doesn't

What do you think?

What bubble shows would you like to see return, and which deserve to be canceled? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (97)

  • Belgand  

    Wasn't V supposed to be a miniseries remake of the original miniseries? Why would it even have a chance of coming back? Flashforward started by taking a good and very interesting book and then tearing it to pieces (flashing twenty years into the future is a lot more compelling than merely nine months). Starting off with an uncessarily over-the-top opening and frequently descending into self-parody (e.g. the sequence in an early episode where they chase a suspect through a trailer park) it seems more interested in dully exploring character's uninteresting personal lives than exploring the premise or trying to resolve the mystery.

    Better Off Ted is fabulous and it seemed to get a lot of promotion before it first aired, I know that's how I found it. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be getting good numbers for some unfathomable reason and ABC seem to think the solution is to shuffle it around and bury it rather than actually trying to promote it or get the numbers up. With the critical acclaim there the question suddenly becomes one of how to get people to watch it, not the fastest way to dump it. Dump it they probably will though.

    Heroes started great and the first season managed to avoid all the pitfalls of Lost... while every subsequent season (and sometimes, episode) has fallen even faster and harder. The writers frequently ignore even basic continuity, often seem to be writing from episode to episode with no larger goals (and often changing plots around for no reason), continually trying to force new and uninteresting characters into the show, and ultimately ripping off just about everything from X-Men. It'll be sad to see it go, but it's become terrible. Just give us a Hiro and Ando spin-off and we'll all be happy.

    Community took some time to build up with the early episodes being fairly weak, but it's now become a solid addition to the Thursday (or whatever night it is that my TiVo records it) lineup along with Parks and Rec (vastly superior to the Office which always felt inferior and mediocre compared to the original) and, the highlight of my week, 30 Rock. Not screwing with this block should be a no-brainer, but they managed to also kill My Name Is Earl just as it felt like it was getting its feet back (i.e. getting back to basics and not stupidly trying to drastically change the formula). It's a long-standing and interesting coincidence, but for some reason hour-long dramas tend to flourish under Republican presidents and half-hour comedies tend to thrive under Democratic presidents. This formula seems to be slowly taking over even more firmly and I suspect that the cancellations will start to show this even more.

  • Samuel  

    I really hope that Heroes will continue. They can't just end the show just as Chapter 6 is about to begin. And especially with the way it did begin.

    I also want Fringe and Medium to continue since those shows are very nice according to me and I would miss them in my viewlist if they are removed.

    FlashForward on the other hand I am not that sure about, maybe one more season to finish it off.

    Other than that, I am not watching any of other shows on the list.

  • jaime  

    Better Off Ted is my favorite show. its very well written and Portia DeRossi is the probbably rhe funniest character on the whole show. if they cancel it i'll be pissed..

  • mjames4040  

    24 has had a really good season so far, and it should be back for many seasons to come. The show is friggin "24" so it wont be cancelled this season by a long shot. Human Target, on the other hand is really a bogus 24, and it is real cheezy. Shows like those are the type of shows that the execs know that they will probably fail (hint, these types shows usually have 3 "series premiere" dates on each different day of the same week, I think this had 4). The show V really screwed up badly when they decided to come back in over 3 months of their highest buzz, thats just plain stupid, but I do hope that it gets another season. And although they added a little (and immediate) touch to Chuck this season, Chuck's final season will probably be next year if they dont do something drastic, because action shows arent supposed to happen mostly in the confines of a medium electronic store and an extremely small basement; that cash cow for the execs (because they have to be saving a killing from this) will quickly be over.

    And Heroes, let just say, had a really bad season this year, in fact that was the most of a season that I have ever seen that was that bad. The whole dull/uneventful carnie as a main villian was a stupid idea. If they dont do something drastic (which they now have a chance to, since Claire revealed to the world that they are heroes) then that show will surely be off by the end of its next season.

  • Jason Venter  

    Better Off Ted and Chuck are the two shows I care about that appeared on that list. They're actually my two favorite shows on television, so of course they frequently show up on the list of "bubble" shows. Most shows I like wind up getting the boot well before they deserve it. I'd like to see both shows go five or six seasons, maybe more if they can remain as fresh as they are now, but I know I'll never get that. Oh, and I guess I'm glad about a likely second year for Community. It's not a terrific show but it's at least mildly amusing most weeks and could grow into something better if the writers would just stop relying on forced quirkiness. Community and Modern Family are the two freshman shows that I care most about this year.

  • JD  

    Better Off Ted was amazingly funny this season, it really sucks that it didn't find a large enough viewer-ship. Fringe is awesome and BETTER come back or I'll be pissed. Heroes had a pretty decent season but it needs to really shake things up in order to be any good for a fifth year..

  • Clay  

    I'm gonna be majorly pissed if 'Better Off Ted' gets the same treatment as 'Arrested Development'.

    2 great shows, that are flying under the radar compared to overhyped garbage like Lost.

    I don't think Scrubs will be back... but it had a good run, I'm gonna miss it. This season isn't as bad as everybody says it is though... I still watch it over most T.V. shows. 'Community' is gonna be my new show I guess.

  • tjaman  

    The one "Oh nooes!" I had in reading this list was "Mercy," and honestly I haven't decided if I'm watching it because I love all the soap in Veronica's personal life or if I'm just enthralled with Michelle Trachtenberg. Adding the Alzheimer's storyline on Veronica's dad really did make it "Grey's Anatomy" Eastside, but the final nail for me might be Sonia breaking up with the cop and loving up on the profligate heir. I thought we were gonna see some development in that girl. Oh well ...

  • Peter  

    I want to see ABC's Deep End and Flash Forward return.

    24 is getting a little repetitive now a days.

  • Denise  

    Better Off Ted? Nooooooo! That show is so good. I agree with the person above who said ABC should move it to Wednesday. Give it another chance and promote it for "Comedy Wednesday". It'd be a shame if this were another Arrested Development, or something like that.

    Scrubs should be canceled already. This season has been terrible. It's ok for them to try to give it a refresh with new characters, but at the same time they want to have the same show. Shoving that stupid blonde med student as the new JD, giving the older med student the same personality as Dr. Cox, and so on. All these "new" characters are just rehashed, less charismatic versions of the old ones.

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