What it takes to survive the TV cancellation bubble

By Lisa de Moraes
Sunday, May 16, 2010

The broadcast networks begin to unveil their primetime schedules on Sunday. Some of our best-known series have already been sent to that great Scheduling Board in the Sky -- RIP "Ugly Betty," "24," "Lost" and, morbidly, " 'Til Death." But still more shows have fallen into that critical condition known as "on the bubble," and their live-or-die fates will be revealed in the week ahead. Here is how network execs assess before they start popping:

"How's the View From the Toilet?". . . in which shows that should be drain-bound are likely to survive.

Chuck: that show about a nerdy guy who gets a brain download, becomes a spy, uses his powers to score. (NBC)

Heroes: that show about many pretty, demographically diverse people who wake up psychic. (NBC)

Mercy: that show about hot hospital nurses in heat. (NBC)

Trauma: that show about paramedics as heli-jumping danger junkies. (NBC)

Shows that every week attract about 10 million people face possible cancellation on healthy networks, which is to say "Medium" on CBS, while half that many keep a show alive on unhealthy networks, which is to say all of the above on NBC. That soon-to-be-sold network has so many stinkers on its schedule that it can't do them off all in one season. Oh, except "Trauma" -- that one's toast, trust me.

Update: The TV Column blog: NBC picks up series from David Kelley -- and Conan O'Brien

"Get Me Another "Lost" -- STAT" . . . in which sci-fi serials fall into a black hole.

V: that show about lizard aliens who mask their scaly insides with pixie cuts and eyeliner. (ABC)

FlashForward: that show about the whole world getting the vapors all at once and glimpsing the future. (ABC)

Happy Town: that show about a postcard-perfect hamlet that turns out to be rotten. (ABC)

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