Bubble shows: Why 'V,' 'Chuck,' 'Event' and others might return (or might not)
If it’s the end of March and your (favorite?) show has yet to receive a full season pickup for fall, chances are good the network suits are back in their offices questioning whether it deserves a stay of execution. We’ve singled out some of the higher profile bubble shows and weigh in on whether they’re even worth the trouble. And for more about what shows will survive another day, check out our scorecard.
Harry’s Law (averages 2.2 rating among adults 18-49, 11.4 million viewers) Pros: Hands down, Kathy Bates is the primary reason to tune into the show. Cons: A struggling drama needs a little more than that.
Chuck (2.1, 5.9 million). Pros: A rabid fan base and perhaps NBC’s only drama that can blow up Twitter. Cons: Ratings have recently sunk below the usual minimum that midweek shows need for a pickup.
Law & Order: LA (2.5, 9.0 million). Pros: The latest entry in a big brand that always delivers a certain number of viewers. Cons: Show’s cast and characters keep changing — have producers finally found the right combination?
Outsourced (2.5, 5.3 million). Pros: Diversity! Cons: You don’t win diversity points if you manage to offend the group you’re portraying. Plus, you know, the ratings.
The Event (2.7, 7.9 million) Pros: High-concept shows should be nurtured and given a chance to grow (See: Fringe). Cons: It’s gotten just silly, and the show lacks a likeable central character to drive the drama.
Ken Tucker’s take: My affection for Chuck has been exhausted by the current huffing, puffing, repetitive season it’s been having. LO:LA: A good idea that floundered with wildly mismatched casting and plotting. And I’d wish Kathy Bates a better show than Harry’s Law, but who’s going to cast a non-twentysomething woman in a lead role these days? Better she and David E. Kelley stay on the schedule than we get another, um, Event.
Desperate Housewives (2.9, 12.2 million) Pros: It’s still an addictive drama. Cons: Pacts for the women will expire in May and so far, there’s no word on when (or whether) they’ll sign rich new deals.
Mr. Sunshine (2.9, 7.6 million). Pros: Matthew Perry, back in a sitcom with Courteney Cox on ABC’s schedule right next door. Cons: Squanders too much of its Modern Family lead-in.
Better With you (2.2, 6.8 million). Pros: Fills a hole on ABC’s comedy block. Pros: Cons: Have you heard one person talk about this show?
Detroit 1-8-7 (1.7, 7.4 million): Pros: ABC needs a great cop drama. Cons: This one ain’t so great.
No Ordinary Family (1.9, 6.6 million): Pros: Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz are strong actors. Cons: Both are now cast in other pilots — and NOF didn’t seem to muster much passion from even sci fi fans.
Off the Map (2.2, 6.3 million): Pros: Perfectly on brand for ABC and didn’t perform terribly. Cons: Given how on target this is for ABC, shouldn’t its ratings be higher?
V (2.4, 6.6 million). Pros: Brings young men and geek buzz to a soap-filled, female-skewing network — and might make a good companion for a new series next fall if ABC greenlights anything with sci-fi elements. Cons: Nobody expects ratings on a serialized show to go anywhere but down between seasons — and V is already low.
Brothers and Sisters (2.7, 8.6 million): Pros: Well-liked veteran series holds up well in a tough time period. Cons: After five seasons, it’s getting expensive for its ratings. And how many more Walker webs can those writers weave?
Tucker’s take: Wow, what a mediocre line-up, when you stack ’em up like this. I’d probably watch Detroit 1-8-7 more if it was on at a different time/day, and Better With You is slightly better than the average sitcom. The rest? The bubble’s already burst for me.
Traffic Light (1.7, 4.1 million): Pros: Fox needs scripted comedies. Cons: Hasn’t proven a popular companion for Raising Hope, and there’s plenty of new sitcoms in the pipeline.
Lie to Me (2.2, 6.7 million): Pros: Lie has been in a lot of time periods and typically pulls a workable number. Cons: Never seems to generate much excitement.
The Chicago Code (2.4, 8.9 million): Pros: Shawn Ryan is one of TV’s top showrunners and after launching late in the season, he deserves a second chance. Cons: Fox only programs two hours most nights (so it has fewer slots to fill) and the buzz on its pilots is strong.
Human Target (2.2, 7.6 million). Pros: Retro action drama has its fans. Cons: Ratings dropped despite creative overhaul for season two.
Tucker’s take: I’m rooting for Chicago Code (if it becomes more hard-boiled, and if Jennifer Beals gets a uniform that fits her). I liked Tim Roth and Kelli Williams in Lie To Me, but the show around them was too derivative and flat.
Mad Love (2.8, 7.9 million) Pros: Great cast, great auspices. Cons: Just doesn’t seem to gel with the blue-collar feel of CBS’ other hit comedies.
The Defenders (2.2, 10.3 million) Pros: A fresh take on the tired legal genre. Cons: The lowest-rated of CBS’ Friday night dramas (guess some viewers still haven’t forgiven Jim Belushi for According to Jim).
Two and A Half Men (4.5, 14.2 million) Pros: Like it needs to be said? It’s the No. 1 comedy on TV! Cons: Without Charlie Sheen, the show has lost its biggest star (no offense, Holland Taylor).
Live to Dance (1.3, 5.9 million) Pros: It’s good to see Paula Abdul back in prime time. Cons: Was crushed by Abdul’s former employer, American Idol. Perhaps we didn’t really need another competition dance show.
Criminal Minds: Suspect (3.0, 11.6 million) Pros: It’s about time someone gave Forest Whitaker his own series. Cons: Been dropping off from its Criminal Minds lead-in. Did we really need another procedural spinoff?
Ken Tucker’s take: I definitely want Two and a Half Men renewed, just to see what kind of new mess the show can become.
Off the Map