Tonight marks the season two finale of NBC's Life, and barring a miracle or DirecTV bailout, it will be the series finale. At this point it seems that Chuck is the only holdover scripted series on NBC that premiered during the strike-shortened 2007-2008 season.
Life fans shouldn't feel too bummed about it because it doesn't really appear anything can catch on at NBC. Life will join the growing list of recent NBC shows that didn't make it.
I really liked Life, but I see its numbers ever week. People will (and I believe, correctly) say that if it were on another network, say CBS, it would have had many, many more viewers. And that might be true, but it's hard to say whether it would've ever had enough viewers to catch on at CBS. I'd rate my enjoyment of Life similar to season one of USA's In Plain Sight (season two premieres Sunday April 19 at 10pm on USA). For my viewing pleasure, they are both behind USA's Burn Notice. I enjoy all three shows though.
How NBC's Southland fares could have a big influence on NBC's plans for next year. I worry that if Southland gets added to the failures list, that might encourage NBC to move to even less scripted programming than the already diminished route it is on. In other words, if they get into the space of "You know, after our experiences with Kings, Crusoe, Lipstick Jungle, and now Southland, we're going to move in a different direction." Such a decision might not be so good for fans of Chuck. It certainly won't be good for fans of scripted television series.
I do not think Southland will perform as poorly as Kings out of the gate, but how Southland does in its first couple of airings isn't nearly as interesting to me as how it does in the subsequent airings. Unless it does horribly out of the gate, and that would surprise me.
I'm rooting for NBC to have at least a modest success with a scripted drama, because I'm rooting for NBC to not give up on scripted dramas.