On Tuesday evening, the FOX network went for all-out decimation with regard to its “bubble” shows. Every program not certain of renewal is gone. Before the cancellation bloodbath was over, Human Target, Lie to Me, Breaking In, The Chicago Code and Traffic Light all fell off the FOX schedule.
So what does this mean for the fates of bubble shows on the other networks?
Depending on how much ABC, CBS and NBC want to copy FOX, Tuesday’s events could mean a lot or a little. FOX sent a clear message saying that it wasn’t going to put up with low- to mid-rated shows (except Fringe, of course). Instead, the network was betting it all on new, untried programming mixed with reliable standbys.
It’s a decent strategy. But there are others, and it’s tough to say if the various networks will follow suit. I definitely can’t make a reliable prediction of what will happen, but a look at each network and their endangered scripted programming may make things a little clearer.
NBC has the most wild cards as far as the fall season is concerned. Four of the network’s Thursday-night comedies have been renewed (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Office and Community), but every other scripted show still awaits its fate. NBC’s only really successful show is Law & Order: SVU. Everything else? Not so much.
Shows like Chuck and Parenthood have strong followings that might pull them through, despite low to middling ratings. Law & Order: L.A. has that whole Law & Order pedigree behind it, even if no one is watching the current version. Harry’s Law had a good start but has since lost steam. The less said about The Event and Outsourced, the better.
If NBC takes the FOX route, Parenthood has the best chances, but even that could be doomed. A slightly kinder approach would leave Parenthood and Chuck (does NBC really want to deal with the fallout of canceling Chuck?), possibly with either Law & Order: L.A. or Harry’s Law. There is no kindness that can extend as far as The Event.
CBS has only announced renewals for a few shows, but that doesn’t mean they will cancel much. Successful programming like The Mentalist, the many CSI incarnations, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Mike & Molly and Blue Bloods will be back, barring Charlie Sheen-level disasters.
The network will probably keep most of their mid-range shows like The Good Wife (so many awards deserve a little ratings leniency) and Rules of Engagement (seriously, who is watching?). A full-on FOX-style massacre might knock out Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, but probably not. As for the fate of Two and a Half Men, who knows?
This leaves just a few comedies to fall to cancellation: The Defenders, $#*! My Dad Says and Mad Love are in serious danger unless CBS cares to keep comedies going or doesn’t have any good replacements. If CBS imitates FOX, however, it’s safe to bet all three will be gone in the fall.
ABC has already renewed most of their sure-things, making renewal even tenser for those shows that remain. Only Desperate Housewives, should it survive what seem to be endless negotiations, seems safe.
Better with You, Happy Endings, Body of Proof and Brothers & Sisters all stand a chance in a kind, gentle ABC. But it’s unlikely that all (or any?) would survive cuts like FOX made. The three new shows could go anywhere with their ratings and are therefore risks, while Brothers & Sisters‘ destiny depends on how important a beloved, talented cast and devoted fans are to ABC.
Mr. Sunshine might be given a reprieve out of kindness (and a need to keep Matthew Perry and Allison Janney on the air), but Detroit 1-8-7, Off the Map and V probably have little chance in the cold, harsh renewal climate left by FOX.
Which shows do you expect to be renewed? Was FOX too harsh? Or should the other networks follow suit? Leave a comment with your opinions!
(Images courtesy of NBC, ABC and CBS)