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On the Ropes: Which Shows Are in Trouble in 2011?

February 22, 2011

With the 2010-11 television casualties still fresh in the ground (see ya Running Wilde! So long Undercovers!), it’s a crucial moment in the season for the networks to make their calls on which lingering series stay and which will go. Good thing for all of us that IGN — which is actually, you might be surprised to know, good for a great deal other things than showing you the walkthrough of that video game level you can’t figure out — has posted its annual “Endangered TV Series List.” It’s always well put-together and wise, and it often offers some surprises as to what’s on the fence. Let’s take a look at some of the shows waiting with bated breath, shall we?

According to IGN’s list, the following series could go either way in the next couple of months:

Bob’s Burgers — As part of FOX’s “Animation Domination” block, Bob’s Burgers was a mid-season debut which opened without much hype but sports an impressive pedigree. Focusing on a family-run diner operating in dicey economic times, the toon features the voice talent of stalwart comic voice man H. Jon Benjamin (Dr. Katz, Archer), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) and beloved fringe comic Eugene Mirman. It might not be fair to pull the plug on Bob’s Burgers without giving it time to find an audience — because let’s be honest, Sunday evenings in January and February offer a lot of competition in annual ratings-grabbers like the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars — but with the Family Guy hype starting to wane, Bob’s Burgers may have jumped into the fray a little too late.

Community — The Joel McHale-helmed single camera sitcom has gone from complete dismissal/obscurity to the only comedy anyone was really talking about and now is somewhat returned to relative dismissal/obscurity. It’s very funny, but that “hey, we just discovered this!” sheen has worn off, leaving the diehard fans. Are they enough to keep Community on Must-See Thursdays? If Perfect Couples and Outsourced stick around, Community damn well better too — it’s ten times better than either.

The Event — Here’s your Event questionnaire: 1.) Do you know anyone who watches The Event? __yes __no. 2.) If “yes,” does that person ever tell you anything about that show that sounds even remotely interesting or not-ludicrous? __yes __ no. 3.)If “yes,” why aren’t you watching it, then? I rest my case.

Life Unexpected — I thought this show had already been cancelled. Guess what? It hasn’t been! (Yet.)

Fringe — I’m not the best person to speak on Fringe (apparently that person is “the entire rest of the internet”) but I was in on the first season, and enjoyed it, before it shuffled off my DVR’s mortal coil when Fox clearly tried to kill it by moving it to an already-packed Thursday night lineup. Though FOX seems ridiculously intent on getting rid of the sci-fi mindbender (it’s on Friday nights now), a positively Whedon-esque audience still continues to hold on, and that’s never terrible.

Brothers and Sisters — I think once I heard about this show, but I’ve never seen any evidence that is it actually on television because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a commercial for it, much less an episode of it. Once I thought I saw a commercial for it, but it turned out to just be Sally Field talking about her osteoperosis medicine. It must have an audience, though, because it’s been on for five seasons. So good on ya, Brothers and Sisters

$#*! My Dad Says — Weak ratings have apparently been the norm for CBS’ Big Bang Theory follow-up show, but let’s be honest. If this show stays on the air, I’m just going to cry. I’ve seen this show two times and now I’m completely blind, because the first time I gouged out my left eye and the second time I gouged out my right.

Chuck — Chuck is an odd story. Its first season grew it a reasonable audience, but not nearly enough for NBC to feel confident in it. A letter-writing campaign helped save it in the second season, and in the third season NBC just basically hired it out for product placement (hello, Subway!). A decision to re-create Chuck into a Jason Bourne type was massively derided by diehard fans and the show’s producers seem to be milking the guest star gimmick way too often (nothing says “ratings grab” like guest stars Armand Assante, Eric Roberts and Harry Dean Stanton). All of these factors may ultimately conspire to sink the spy spoof, which is a a shame because in an alternate universe this show could have been really strong (little help here, Fringe).

CSI: NY — Are you telling me that one whole hour of Gary Sinise frowning every week isn’t a good thing? I refuse to believe you.

The Defenders — This Jim Belushi/Jerry O’Connell legal series was hyped by CBS before they quietly moved it to Friday nights. Actually, I think this move will allow The Defenders to stay on — it worked for Ghost Whisperer. Plus, if you’re home alone on a Friday night at ten o’clock, you deserve Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell. Consider it motivation to get out of the house more.

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2 Comments
  1. Porter permalink
    February 22, 2011 2:22 pm

    That makes me sad to hear that Community may be on the chopping block. It’s by far one the smartest shows on network t.v. The episode where Aved delivers a baby in the background, while the real story unfolds in the foreground — brilliant. The ongoing storyline of the Chevy Chase character being a pillhead — brilliant, if a little troubling. The Christmas episode done in stop-motion claymation — brilliant. Almost every episode references or pays tribute to famous plotlines, film styles, or t.v. shows.

    If NBC kills Community, and with 30 Rock on at 10, Thursdays will once again be a wash. I mean, Olivia Munn is hot, but I can’t stomach that show she’s on just to watch her.

    Sad days…

    • February 22, 2011 4:17 pm

      I agree. It’s wholly likeable and smart. I can’t really imagine they won’t pick it up — especially if you have to imagine 30 Rock is going to either wane or go under when Baldwin leaves (as he’s confirmed) and The Office is set to really hit the skids after Carell leaves. If I were NBC, I’d be holding onto Parks & Rec and Community with all I got. (But it should be noted, a little ominously, that even Parks & Rec was only picked up for 16 eps this season instead of the normal full-season 22, another sign I hope means nothing in the long run).

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