As the regular season winds down, our experts turn a cold eye on the fates of some big-name series

The word bubble can evoke fun: taking a bath, drinking champagne, manically popping packing material. But there’s nothing cheery about TV programming ”bubbles” — broadcast shows that are anxiously awaiting their renewal fates. Even the industry’s most successful producers are not immune. David E. Kelley’s legal drama Harry’s Law is considered a long shot for a third-season pickup, despite its ranking as NBC’s second-most-watched scripted show this season (the average rating for the season to date is 8.7 million) after Smash. Law star Kathy Bates will even get a boost this week playing the ghost of Charlie Harper in an episode of Two and a Half Men. Regardless, Kelley will likely have to wait until the eve of NBC’s presentation to advertisers on May 14 in New York. ”The majority of our viewers are dead — and we have a lot of them!” Kelley quips about the show’s appeal to older viewers. ”We don’t get an Evite inviting us to a bubble party. It’s more like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ But NBC has been hugely supportive creatively of the show.” Way to think positively! We only wish we shared your optimism. Our predictions on some high-profile shows…

Still Hopeful

30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Community

NBC (4.6 million, 4.4 million, 4.0 million, respectively) Though they’re low-rated, we believe at least two of these three Thursday-night critical favorites will return — perhaps for only 13 episodes.

Body of Proof

ABC (9.7 million) We’re betting on Dana Delany — her procedural does well overseas.

CSI: Miami, CSI: NY

CBS (10.8 million, 10.7 million) Two shows, one time slot. Fight! David Caruso & Co. are expected to say goodbye before Gary Sinise and the Big Apple crew.


Fox (4.1 million) This critically beloved show seemed doomed until chatter fired up last month about a 13-episode final-season pickup. Fingers crossed.

Last Man Standing

ABC (9.4 million) Ratings aren’t as big as expected, but ABC may not want to slam the door on a star like Tim Allen.


CBS (12.0 million) Don’t count out the Deuce. Despite its childish humor and crass stereotypes, this comedy could get a reprieve.


ABC (7.3 million) Even with so-so ratings, Shonda Rhimes’ political soap still has a shot at reelection.

Looking Bleak


Fox (9.6 million) The drama’s lowest-rated episode was its finale. The last successful show to lose its audience from start to finish and still get renewed was… (Um, we need to get back to you.)

Are You There, Chelsea?

NBC (4.5 million) Not for long, thanks to those ratings and a lack of love.


NBC (5.6 million) Not enough viewers could keep from snoozing through this confusing downer.

The Finder

Fox (7.4 million) Unable to locate enough Friday viewers… or a remotely interesting plot.


ABC (7.6 million) This serialized dramedy about a group of shrewish women in Texas has yet to improve upon its low-rated older sister Desperate Housewives.

A Gifted Man

CBS (8.6 million) Some gift for first-time TV star Patrick Wilson: a likely cancellation for the humdrum procedural.


The CW (1.8 million) Expect Sarah Michelle Gellar’s drama to get slayed while fellow CW newbies The Secret Circle and Hart of Dixie live on.

The River

ABC (6.7 million) Dead in the water. We guess America didn’t want to see Lost–meets–Paranormal Activity–meets–Swamp Thing.


NBC (5.1 million) Better stick with stand-up, funny girl.

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