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‘Mars’ set for just 20 CW orbits

Net orders eight additional episodes of 'One Tree Hill'

There’ll be a little bit less “Veronica Mars” on the CW.

Net has decided to order just 20 episodes of “Mars” this season vs. the standard 22 for returning skeins. Decision was handed down late Thursday and confirmed Friday by the network.

The CW committed to only 13 episodes of “Mars” last May when the net set its first fall schedule. Its decision to add seven episodes to that order means the skein will live on — but prospects for a fourth season remain hazy if ratings don’t pick up in the second half of the season.

Despite a new and improved lead-in from former WB skein “Gilmore Girls,” “Mars” has done little to improve its ratings this season, growing a scant 5% among the CW-friendly women 18-34 aud.

A fourth season of “Mars” is critical to producer Warner Bros. TV, since the studio needs to wrap a critical mass of episodes to ensure any sort of life for the show in syndication.

Meanwhile, the CW is ordering eight additional episodes of fourth-year drama “One Tree Hill,” ensuring the WBTV-produced skein will make it to syndication. Like “Mars,” “One Tree Hill” also got a 13-seg pickup last spring.

Latter skein is up a whopping 23% among female teens and has retained more of its “America’s Next Top Model” lead-in than any series to follow the show when it aired on UPN.

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