This fall TV season has suffered two more casualities — NBC's My Own Worst Enemy and Lipstick Jungle — bringing the total numbers of shows shown the door to an unlucky seven. Interestingly, and perhaps as a true demonstration of yin and yang, nearly the same number of shows have also been given the good word that they are keepers for the season.
Networks execs have been less jumpy with the trigger finger than in seasons past, partly because the shaky U.S. economy has made the cost of scrapping a new show and starting up a replacement that much harder to swallow. Another factor giving some shows added gas are corporate tie-ins. Sponsorship dollars (such as those exchanged between Ford and Knight Rider) can help absorb the cost of keeping alive what in previous years might have been a program earmarked for elimination. Yet even that sort of boost wasn't enough to keep the mission going for Christian Slater's Enemy (which had GM on board as a partner).
One sad truth that always comes into play, regardless of the year, is whether the host network also produces a show that's on the fence. Oftentimes, the matter of whose name appears on the checks being cut can seal — for better or for worse — a struggling series' fate. Such an "unfavorite child" status undoubtedly is making it slightly more difficult for the Warner Bros.-produced Pushing Daisies to be given a Season 2 green light by ABC.
Are there any more shoes (meaning shows) to drop? Which freshman fare is still on the fringe? And which sophomore slumpers still might get socked? TVGuide.com takes a look at the remaining "bubble" shows and their chances of getting popped.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Signs of Life: Conceived as a closed-end, 13-episode series, but NBC might not be in a rush to set it adrift.
One Reason to Save It: Family-friendly scripted television is so rare these days — and on a Friday night, no less!
One Reason to Shelve It: "We could do worse" is not the noblest of defenses when standing by a show.
UPDATE: Following announcement of move to Saturdays, series turned up missing on NBC's midseason schedule.
Dirty Sexy Money, ABC
Signs of Life: The people who watch it love it. There simply have been fewer of them.
One Reason to Save It: Prime time hasn't had fare this frothy in a long while.
One Reason to Shelve It: Lisa George's hairdon't really, really bothers us.
UPDATE: Not picked up for full season, though unlike Daisies and Eli Stone, cast has yet to be released.
Eli Stone, ABC
Signs of Life: Early in its second season, this critical darling drew the marquee talent of no less than Katie Holmes.
One Reason to Save It: Boston Legal is bowing out at midseason, and the FCC sternly dictates that TV maintains a certain quota of courtroom shows.
One Reason to Shelve It: While a colorful lot, something about Eli and his associates just rings false/"not human" to us.
UPDATE: Not picked up for full season.
Eleventh Hour, CBS
Signs of Life: It's steadily winning its Thursdays-at-10 time slot (albeit with only some 60 percent of CSI's audience).
One Reason to Save It: While The Mentalist gets all the glory, this freshman drama has the guts to be edgy and dark.
One Reason to Shelve It: Hey, a quick show of hands — who knows what Eleventh Hour is about?
Gary Unmarried, CBS
Signs of Life: Late last month, CBS asked for four additional scripts. (The order for a full "back nine" has yet to come, however.)
One Reason to Save It: It's not only holding onto Old Christine's audience, it has in some weeks built on it.
One Reason to Shelve It: The weepy Ghost Whisperer fans could probably use Jay Mohr's professor back in Grandview right about now.
UPDATE: Picked up for full season!
Life on Mars, ABC
Signs of Life: "Thanks" to last-minute recasts and retooling, this adaptation of the UK series was late out of the gate and as such, isn't feeling the crunch quite as badly as its peers. Word is that ABC's soon-to-be-released midseason plan might find Mars a more fitting home than leading out of Grey's.
One Reason to Save It: It's one of those series with a Big, Overarching Mystery. To shelve it at this juncture would be to incite the sort of cult-show fans who crave and fervently campaign for closure.
One Reason to Shelve It: Since when has ABC lost sleep over cult-show fans who crave and campaign for closure?
UPDATE: Moving to Wednesdays at 10 pm, starting Jan. 28.
Prison Break, Fox
Signs of Life: Long the butt of jokes for its leaps of logic and credibility, the thriller nonetheless has turned things around with a creatively "better," Ocean's 11-styled Season 4. Though not "on the bubble" for this season, there is talk that following its annual midseason break, a final salvo of eight episodes (including two "bonus" hours) will wrap up the saga sometime in 2009.
One Reason to Save It: Diehards have followed Michael's journey thus far....
One Reason to Shelve It: Gretchen in a naughty schoolgirl outfit? Good. But for the octogenarian General's benefit? Bad.
Privileged, the CW
Signs of Life: The CW thus far has greenlit five additional scripts, bringing the season order to 18. The freshman comedy also is getting a plum Monday try-out for two weeks in early December.
One Reason to Save It: TV needs more gals like JoAnna Garcia's Megan, who is super-cute and quick with a clever quip. (Did I mention she's super-cute?)
One Reason to Shelve It: Sage's angry grrrl shtick has worn thin. But maybe her incoming new love interest (to be played by former soap hunk Ignacio Serrichio) will fix that?
UPDATE: Special Monday broadcasts begin Dec. 1.
Pushing Daisies, ABC
Signs of Life: Opposite Barack Obama's pre-election commercial (yes, that was the last time Daisies aired), the dramedy's stagnant ratings saw a slight uptick. It also won three Emmys in September.
One Reason to Save It: The adventures of Ned & Co. offer an unprecedented splicing of TV genres — romance plus comedy plus crime procedural plus fantasy plus the supernatural — all delivered without a hint of the cynicism that is so fashionable on television these days.
One Reason to Shelve It: It's too specialized for network TV. As made clear by the Nielsens, the same people who love Daisies aren't sticking around to watch Private Practice or Dirty Sexy Money. In a worst case scenario, series creator Bryan Fuller has said that he would aim to finish out this season's stories via comic books.
UPDATE: Not picked up for full season.
Worst Week, CBS
Signs of Life: Though some raised an eyebrow when Gary Unmarried "borrowed" the Mondays-at-9:30 time slot one day last month, insiders maintain that the Eye is bullish on this mishaps-per-minute laffer.
One Reason to Save It: Could Meet the Parents have lasted as a weekly series? A teeny-tiny part of us must find out.
One Reason to Shelve It: Horatio Cane probably calls this freshman sitcom "Worst Lead-In," seeing as it whizzes away a huge chunk of the Two and a Half Men audience, thus compromising CSI: Miami's numbers.
UPDATE: Three additional scripts ordered in mid-November.
Which of the above are you most passionate to see saved?