TV on the chopping block: Several series up for pink slips this fall
The cast of Community, the fate of which this fall is uncertain NBC
By Alex Strachan May 8, 2012
With one week to go before the major U.S. networks make their remaining renewal and cancellation decisions official, nerves are becoming more frayed — in front of and behind the camera.
Some outcomes are already known. The filmed-in-Vancouver Supernatural and Fringe, both rumoured to be on-the-bubble as recently as 10 days ago, will both be back in the fall. Fringe will return for a shortened, fifth and final season of 13 episodes
And while Supernatural’s longer-term future is still up in the air, the paranormal serial drama starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as modern-day ghostbusters is confirmed for an eighth season, which will equal the longevity mark set by the retiring House and Desperate Housewives.
Still, a number of high-profile series are still waiting for a green light or pink slip. CSI is poised to lose one or both of its spinoffs, for example. The original, rejuvenated this past season with the addition of Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue, is confirmed for a 13th season — lucky 13 — and is in no danger of leaving soon. The picture is more cloudy, though, for CSI: Miami, which finished its 10th season last month, and CSI: New York, whose eighth season ends May 11.
CSI parent network CBS unveils its fall schedule on May 16, and speculation is growing that one or possibly even both of the CSI spinoffs may not return.
There are several factors at work, from the cost of a series to make — the longer a series has been on the air, the more expensive it is — to the network’s development of new programs.
Only the executives in charge of the various networks know how promising their new series are, and whether those series are strong enough to replace already established programs on the fall schedule.
Most networks prefer to play their cards close to their chest when it comes to revealing which, if any, of their new series they’re willing to take a gamble on. Many of these decisions will come down to the proverbial 11th hour.
Series hanging in the balance include the Kiefer Sutherland drama Touch; the prime time ensemble soap GCB; the respected but oft-overlooked family drama Parenthood; and the cult comedy Community. In what is perhaps a last-ditch effort to measure Community’s true audience, parent network NBC will end Community’s third season with three new episodes on the same night, May 17. How many viewers tune in that night may well determine Community’s long-term fate.
Final decisions won’t necessarily come down to ratings. The networks often base their decisions on a program’s future prospects. If a lightly viewed program shows a slight ratings gain from one week to the next, for example, that program may be favoured over a program whose ratings are greater, but are slipping from week to week. That’s why either CSI: Miami or CSI: New York are likely to be DOA by the time the leaves change colour.