Every year about this time we look back at the wreckage that started out as a promising television season. This year had a bit more carnage than usual as SCI FI's Battlestar Galactica went out with power and grace, while NBC's My Own Worst Enemy imploded and The CW's Valentine faded away.
Several shows stand on the precipice of cancellation. Many of them are fighting for their lives, with hopes they won't end up like Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, Stargate Atlantis, Life on Mars, Kyle XY or The Ex-List. Some of them have had multiple seasons to make their case, while others are brand-spanking-new and discovering that getting viewers to tune in isn't always easy.
Here are 11 shows that are in the danger zone and our assessment of their prospects.
Last week's ratings: 6.05 million viewers
Chances of another season: Superpowered
The news is good when it comes to Heroes. NBC entertainment president Angela Bromstad has said the series will be picked up. Mind you, that hasn't happened yet. But despite falling ratings, the series has bounced back creatively, and Heroes does well overseas. Also, an extra season will add additional episodes, making it appealing to affiliates in the syndication market. That said, if the series is renewed, look for a shortened season of 18-20 episodes, allowing NBC to save some money. It's also likely that Heroes will lose its timeslot, perhaps to the new NBC post-apocalyptic drama Day One.
Last week's ratings with a little spillage from American Idol: 11.48 million viewers
Chances of another season: Strangely hopeful
While Fringe hasn't been able to keep up with American Idol (what show could?), it's found its footing and carved out its own very grim and quirky territory. John Noble's become a star playing the strange and wacky Dr. Walter Bishop. It's true that Fox is a bit disappointed Fringe isn't getting Mentalist-sized ratings, but in these difficult times it's doing okay, and the series is keeping its audience. Things could certainly be worst. Expect another season of Fringe.
Last week's ratings: 7.15 million viewers
Chances of another season: Predictable
Yes, Medium's ratings have dropped this year, but so have most shows'. Medium does better than Heroes in the ratings, and it's done well for years wherever and whenever NBC decided to put it. While Jay Leno will be taking away its 10 p.m. slot, there's no reason the series wouldn't do fine earlier. Medium has a following, and fans are willing to wait until midseason to see it. And better yet, this reliable series can wait in the wings until space on the schedule opens up for it.
Eleventh Hour CBS
Season to-date ratings: 12.05 million viewers
Chances of another season: 50/50
On paper Eleventh Hour, would seem like a shoo-in for renewal. The ratings are better than most, and they've actually improved a bit through the season's final episodes now that the series has found its rhythm. But Eleventh Hour is on CBS, and CBS is doing just fine these days. They are used to shows that can pull some major numbers. Beyond that, the series is on after CBS's biggest hit, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and that means big things are expected. Fortunately for Eleventh Hour, the murder mystery replacing it, Harper's Island, didn't do as well as hoped, making Eleventh Hour look a bit shinier by comparison. If Eleventh Hour returns for another season, look for CBS to shuffle it to a different timeslot.
Last week's ratings: 6.01 million viewers
Chances of another season: 50/50
Despite its very silly premise, Chuck has turned out to be a delightful bit of escapism that deserves a third season, and another season is indeed possible. But with Jay Leno about to take over five hours of the network's prime-time real estate, one of the shows in danger is Chuck. There's an excellent case to be made for keeping this charming little series in the mix, but the ratings are marginal at best, despite the fact that they are almost as good as the much-more-hyped Heroes. One thing is for certain: If Chuck does get another season, look for a Monday shakeup, meaning it most likely will be given a different timeslot, with likely only 13 episodes.
Reaper The CW
Last week's ratings: 2.28 million viewers
Chances of another season: Not damned yet
Yes, creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are leaving Reaper, and that set everyone abuzz that it might just be the end of this devilishly wacky series. But the chances that Reaper will return are better than they seem. While the 2.28 million viewers might seem tiny, that's 2.28 million against "the death star," otherwise known as American Idol. With The CW's other struggles, there's a reason why they've already renewed Smallville and Supernatural. The truth is that Reaper came in as a midseason replacement against American Idol and still did better than many of the more hyped shows. Now the bigger question is "If Reaper does get another season, will it be as much fun as it was under Butters and Fazekas?"
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Fox
Last week's ratings: 3.56 million viewers
Chances of another season: Terminated
One report already has this show canceled, though no official announcement has been made. How sad the ratings from this promising series have dropped so drastically, considering it premiered with more than 18 million viewers. Whether viewers gave up on the story or some mysterious conspiracy forced the human race to abandon this Terminator, Fox isn't about to bring back a series that's fallen so far. That leaves viewers, unfortunately, with the prospect of an unresolved cliffhanger. At least Terminator aficionados will have the upcoming film Terminator Salvation to look forward to.
Last week's ratings: 3.56 million viewers
Chances of another season: Probably mind-wiped
Ah, we had such high hopes for this Joss Whedon series. Unfortunately, Dollhouse's ratings are awful, even beyond the low expectations that come with Friday nights. While it looked like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse were the perfect Friday-night couple, neither one of them could pull big enough numbers to help the other. With just a handful of episodes to go, Fox has probably already written this series off.
Last week's ratings: 6.22 million viewers
Chances of another season: Stick an arrow in it
Poor Cupid. The series has its charms, but it arrived D.O.A. and really never had a chance. Yes, it's still on the air, and, yes, you can watch this second go-around about a guy who thinks he's Cupid. But realistically, if Eli Stone's better ratings couldn't cut it, Cupid isn't going to get a chance at a second season. The bigger question is why ABC is having trouble holding on to the Dancing With the Stars viewers in that 10 p.m. hour.
Last week's ratings: 3.63 million viewers
Chances of another season: Deposed
This very promising, intriguing and very expensive series lost its Sunday timeslot and will move to Saturdays beginning April 18. That's pretty much a death sentence. While it's likely this alternate-reality soap about a modern-day monarchy wouldn't have made it in any timeslot, Sundays at 8 p.m. was certainly not the right place for Kings. To avoid angering the 3.63 million viewers who are still watching the show, NBC will burn off the remaining episodes.
Knight Rider NBC
Season finale ratings: 5.76 million viewers
Chances of another season: Put it on blocks
We knew Knight Rider was in trouble when producers promised to "reboot" the series in the middle of the first season. The re-imagined series never managed to surpass its origins. There's been talk that it's canceled and that it's not canceled. But there's just no way Knight Rider will return.