The networks are ready to do some spring cleaning of their primetime skeds. And the job of sweeping out the old to make room for the new may be more thorough at some shops than it has been in recent years.
With the Big Four and CW just two weeks away from unveiling their 2012-13 skeds, there’s no shortage of returning series with question marks hovering over their future. Even some established skeins, from CBS’ “CSI: Miami” to ABC’s “Private Practice,” could be shown the door to make room for new properties.
CBS faces what its rivals would consider an enviable challenge: There are so few chinks in its primetime armor that there may be openings for only a handful of new series on its fall lineup. But that could mean series that would be shoo-ins for renewals at other networks may get jettisoned anyway.
The durable “CSI” franchise, for instance, may finally be on the verge of losing one of its troika. While the 12-year-old mothership has been renewed after successfully transitioning from Thursday to Wednesday this season, there’s chatter that one of the spinoffs is a goner. Both “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” were conspicuously absent from the 18 series that CBS picked up in one fell swoop last month.
While the youngest of the trio, “CSI: NY,” might seem the most vulnerable, there’s speculation that “CSI: Miami” may get the hook or a short order for a final batch of episodes next season, in part because it’s more expensive to produce.
CBS has already booked a soph sesh for “Person of Interest,” but the fates of its other frosh dramas — “Unforgettable,” “A Gifted Man” and “NYC 22,” which just bowed two weeks ago — seem very much up in the air. “Gifted Man” may have the edge as the show and star Patrick Wilson are known to be internal faves among Eye execs.
On the half-hour side, there’s much speculation about CBS shifting to a four-comedy lineup on Thursday. That may be good news for freshman laffer “Rob,” which has had a so-so midseason run in the 8:30 p.m. berth on the night behind “The Big Bang Theory,” as well as for the Eye’s enduring utility player “Rules of Engagement.”
Fox also has only a few time slots to fill in the fall given the three hours already devoted to “The X Factor.” The net made it official last week with a fifth and final season order for “Fringe.” But there’s still a few spots where wobbly current shows are bound to get yanked.
Monday will likely see the biggest makeover with “House” bowing out this month. Fox had no luck getting “Terra Nova” and “Alcatraz” to stick in the 9 p.m. slot, but Kiefer Sutherland starrer “Touch” has performed respectably enough to secure a second season. There’s speculation that reliable veteran “Bones” could be shifted to the 8 p.m. anchor slot in the fall.
Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly has already spoken of his desire to turn Tuesday into a four-comedy night, though “Glee” may not be strong enough to handle moving elsewhere on the sked. Regardless, comedies “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and “Breaking In” are going to be jettisoned to give what early indications are is a wealth of new half-hours ready to be paired on the night with “New Girl.” Best bets are the untitled Mindy Kaling pilot or “Goodwin Games,” a half-hour from the creators of “How I Met Your Mother.”
ABC has had a good batting average with frosh skeins this season, fielding solid players in dramas “Revenge” and “Once Upon a Time” and comedies “Suburgatory” and “Last Man Standing.” But ABC Entertainment topper Paul Lee still has plenty of tough decisions ahead of him.
While none of ABC’s midseason additions were breakthrough hits, they didn’t tank either, which means dramas “Scandal” and “GCB” and comedy “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23” can all make a case for their survival, as can “Happy Endings.”
“Apt. 23” is also buoyed by its warm welcome from critics and the buzz factor for star Krysten Ritter.
Don’t be surprised if all of them return, though that will put pressure on older series. The early word is dramas “Private Practice” and “Body of Proof” are not going to make the cut. Midseason drama “Missing,” toplined by Ashley Judd, is also expected to live up to its title.
After another rocky season, NBC would seem to be the place where returning series will get graded on a curve. But no incumbent is assured another order with the Peacock eager to get aggressive with its first development season entirely under the oversight of chairman Robert Greenblatt and “The Voice” a probable shift to fall.
NBC’s biggest bet of the season, “Smash,” has already been renewed, as has “Grimm,” the sleeper success story of season. And the longest-running drama on the Peacock’s current sked, “Law & Order: SVU,” is in the midst of securing a 14th season.
“Parenthood” is not seen a lock for a renewal, but the fact that NBC has so many other holes to fill may help its cause. The same goes for “Harry’s Law.”
The little-watched frosh drama “Awake” is considered unlikely to make the cut, while “The Firm” was pretty much DOA in its January debut.
Among comedies, “The Office” is sure to be back, although it may look different from seasons past as its cast is in flux. Rainn Wilson and showrunner Paul Lieberstein are shifting their focus to a spinoff series rooted in the Dwight Schrute character.
“Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock” are also expected to be picked up, with the latter possibly taking its final-season bow. The fate of another Thursday comedy, “Community,” is undoubtedly buoyed by its vocal, if small, fan base. As the Peacock rebuilds its comedy ranks, it probably can’t afford to give up a show that has any kind of heat.
None of NBC’s first-year comedies is a sure thing for a second season, especially if Peacock execs feel bullish about their new comedy pilots. Sources described the chances for “Whitney” and “Up All Night” as 50-50. Prospects are dimmer for “Are You There, Chelsea?,” and even more so for “Bent” and “Best Friends Forever,” which was yanked from the Wednesday lineup after four airings.
The CW could also very well discard every scripted rookie it bowed last fall — “Ringer,” “Secret Circle” and “Hart of Dixie” – because net execs are so high on this year’s development crop.
The return of “Gossip Girl” is a no-brainer, though don’t be surprised if CW orders only 13 episodes for a final season. Second-year drama “Nikita” is also very much on the bubble, though the sexy actioner has strong support as a 9 p.m. news lead-in from the CW’s core Tribune stations.
In the first season of development under CW prexy Mark Pedowitz, a house cleaning would make way for highly promotable properties: the “Sex and the City” prequel “The Carrie Diaries,” the DC Comics’ adaptation “Arrow,” the redo of the 1980s drama “Beauty and the Beast” and thriller “The Cult,” which is expected to land a midseason order. “First Cut,” a drama about a medical intern played by Mamie Gumer, has also drawn raves in the early screenings.