TV shows on the bubble

With less than a month to go before the broadcast networks announce their fall schedules, fewer shows than usual have reason to worry. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW have already renewed a total of 26 series, ranging from old favorites (“The Simpsons,” “Two and a Half Men”) to newcomers (“Modern Family,” “The Vampire Diaries”).

Other shows got the bad news early and officially. ABC even pulled the plug on “Ugly Betty” in time for a series finale. But a lot of shows still remain “on the bubble” – a term, drawn from a carpenter’s level, meaning that the network decision could go either way. While casts and producers sweat out the wait and viewers launch “save our show” campaigns, the people with the power are playing a big game of schedule Scrabble.

This time of year, network programmers are looking at pilots they’ve ordered and considering their options. What spots on the schedule are open and which shows should get them? Should a long-running series with OK ratings but increasing production costs be sacrificed in favor of a new entry, cheaper but risky? NBC and Fox announce their fall schedules on May 17, followed by ABC May 18, CBS May 19 and the CW May 20.


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