Bubble series sit and wait

On-the-fence shows could go either way

As network execs gather in New York for next week’s unveiling of the fall broadcast skeds, the producers and staffs of many current shows are left biting their nails.

While ABC and Fox have pretty much locked in their returning shows, the Peacock and Eye networks have opted to not reveal the fate of many on-the-fence series.

While a struggling NBC has schedule needs across the week, CBS finds itself in a position of strength; however, the Eye also realizes that it may need to clear a few time periods if it’s to make room for a potential breakout hit.

A look at some notable NBC and CBS shows on the bubble:

  • “Close to Home” (CBS): The crime drama wins its Friday slot in adults 25-54 and total viewers, but CBS may opt to use the hour behind “Ghost Whisperer” for a drama that can skew younger.

  • “Jericho” (CBS): It was a solid performer initially, but ended up in the “Friday Night Lights” ratings range, so its future has become much cloudier. One point in its favor is that it’s just about the only new scripted Eye hour in recent years to get much ink in the press, so the net may not want to lose that buzz.

  • “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (NBC): Either or both of these expensive franchise vets could be gone in the fall, with talk surfacing of TNT perhaps keeping the original alive. The 17-year-old drama is competitive on Friday while “CI” is not on Tuesday; it’s unclear which version would be more likely to stay.

    Saturday, of course, is an option. NBC has been running repeats of the “Law” franchise for years, so why not cap the night with an original episode of the mothership?

  • “Scrubs” (NBC): For a few years now, the Peacock has used this durable vet as a bridge between its more popular laffers. Now that it has some other comedy pieces, though, it wouldn’t be surprising to see NBC pass on a seventh season. If that’s the case, ABC, in dire need of half-hours to pair with its forthcoming comedy hopefuls, would likely bring back a show that its sister studio (Disney) produces.

  • “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS): The Julia Louis- Dreyfus laffer looked pretty strong in its rookie season behind “Two and a Half Men,” but didn’t hold up as well in the less-protected 8:30 slot behind “How I Met Your Mother.” Its chances of survival could hinge on whether the Eye opens a second night of comedy and feels it has a good partner for it.

Lest any of these shows not hear there names in New York next week, all is not lost. As somewhat proven commodities, they could be held back by their respective nets as reserves for midseason.

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