When it comes to bubble status, like the Renew/Cancel Index we’re focusing on the likelihood that a show will be renewed **for next season** (2012-13).  Certain shows are toss-ups where based on the ratings, the renewal decisions could go either way and not be surprising.

This Isn’t The Renew/Cancel Index

Though the basic methodology is the same, unlike the Renew/Cancel Index which predicts what would happen if the season ended now, Bubble Watch seeks to prognosticate on what will happen by May.  The two are still usually closely aligned, and almost certainly very closely aligned towards the end of the season.


Please don’t read “on the bubble” as me thinking Bones is in a dire situation. I don’t! But for similar reasons explained with House last week (aging show with OK ratings) I think Fox will have some difficult choices ahead of it. I expect fan shenanigans (or at least some crazy comments) once Bones’ spinoff The Finder launches. I expect at least a few Bones fans will be rooting for The Finder to be closer to the bear (as the old joke goes, you don’t have to run faster than the bear , you just have to run faster than the other guy.)


In the first Bubble Watch of the season I offered up that it might be easier to just put all CW’s shows other than The Vampire Diaries on the bubble. I  got a step closer to that this week with Ringer moved to the bubble. With so many low-rated shows packed closely together, it’s hard to predict what CW might do. While it seems inconceivable that CW could cancel everything other than The Vampire Diaries, if the network really wants to turn things around I won’t be surprised if it cancels four or more shows.

Rules of Engagement

I got several e-mails on Friday that CBS had scaled Rules of Engagement back to 13 episodes and bump ‘Rules’ for Rob Schneider’s new comedy in mid-season. While I have no reason to doubt the e-mailers, I’ve not been able to confirm the news. I’ve moved “Rules” to the bubble pending confirmation. If the news is true, score one for the retentionistas.  Edit: plus, CBS has a habit of cancelling its lowest-rated comedy, even if it has average ratings and right now that’s “Rules” (you could argue that was already taken care of by cancelling “How To Be a Gentleman” but it didn’t really get enough episodes aired to count with me, and it had well below average ratings).

CBS no doubt would like at least 75%-80% retention coming out of its biggest comedies (Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory).  Mike and Molly generally does that with Two and a Half Men. Rules has been under 70% retention the last couple of weeks out of The Big Bang Theory.  On the other hand, Rules has been a solid utility player for CBS and 65%-70% retention in the hand…


I continue to receive smack talk e-mails that boil down to “you never learn! You predicted Fringe would be canceled last year and you’re doing it again. You’ll be wrong again!”  We’ll see. I probably will never list Fringe as certain to be canceled just because, well, it’s Fringe. But cancellation is at least likely because there’s no getting around the ratings: they stink.  That doesn’t mean Friday’s episode stunk (I thought it was the best episode this season), but the ratings for Friday’s episode stunk. And even if it gets adjusted up a tenth in the finals…still smelly.

Why Some Higher Rated Shows Appear In More Trouble Than Lower Rated Shows

I also continue to get a few questions that boil down to “how can you have Show Y in better shape than Show X when show X has better ratings?”  Bubble Watch definitely isn’t ranked purely by a show’s ratings, even within a network and isn’t intended to be. Still, it’s a reasonable question with a reasonable answer: it depends on the situation.

Example: Unforgettable has better ratings than The Good Wife, but I have Unforgettable on the bubble and The Good Wife as likely to be renewed.  There are a few things that make the situations different (different days, different time slots, different performance of lead ins) but the primary difference I’m focused on is that The Good Wife is in its third season, and CBS is on the record of wanting to shepherd its shows along to at least four seasons for syndication purposes. Sure, The Good Wife still doesn’t have a syndication deal, but its ratings are holding up OK (relative to last year) on Sunday nights at 9pm, and barring it dropping by a lot I figure by the end of the season CBS will think “We’ve come this far, we might as well go the final mile.”  Unforgettable is still very early in its journey and at least so far is not getting the critical acclaim The Good Wife continues to receive.

Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode are in the table below.

Show Network Status
Charlie’s Angels ABC Canceled
How To Be a Gentleman CBS Canceled
Free Agents NBC Canceled
The Playboy Club NBC Canceled
A Gifted Man CBS Certain Cancellation
Harry’s Law NBC Certain Cancellation
Prime Suspect NBC Certain Cancellation
Body of Proof ABC Likely Cancellation
Pan Am ABC Likely Cancellation
Man Up ABC Likely Cancellation
Allen Gregory Fox Likely Cancellation
Fringe Fox Likely Cancellation
Private Practice ABC On The Bubble
CSI: Miami CBS On The Bubble
CSI: NY CBS On The Bubble
Person of Interest CBS On The Bubble
Rules of Engagement CBS On The Bubble
Unforgettable CBS On The Bubble
Bones Fox On The Bubble
House Fox On The Bubble
Terra Nova Fox On The Bubble
Gossip Girl CW On The Bubble
Hart of Dixie CW On The Bubble
Nikita CW On The Bubble
Ringer CW On The Bubble
Community NBC On The Bubble
Grimm NBC On The Bubble
Once Upon a Time ABC Likely Renewal
Happy Endings ABC Likely Renewal
Last Man Standing ABC Likely Renewal
Revenge ABC Likely Renewal
Suburgatory ABC Likely Renewal
Blue Bloods CBS Likely Renewal
CSI CBS Likely Renewal
The Good Wife CBS Likely Renewal
The Mentalist CBS Lilely Renewal
90210′ CW Likely Renewal
Supernatural CW Likely Renewal
The Secret Circle CW Likely Renewal
Raising Hope Fox Likely Renewal
Parenthood NBC Likely Renewal
Up All Night NBC Likely Renewal
Whitney NBC Likely Renewal
Castle ABC Certain Renewal
Grey’s Anatomy ABC Certain Renewal
Modern Family ABC Certain Renewal
The Middle ABC Certain Renewal
2 Broke Girls CBS Certain Renewal
Criminal Minds CBS Certain Renewal
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Certain Renewal
Mike & Molly CBS Certain Renewal
NCIS CBS Certain Renewal
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS Certain Renewal
Two and a Half Men CBS Certain Renewal
Vampire Diaries CW Certain Renewal
Glee Fox Certain Renewal
New Girl Fox Certain Renewal
Law & Order: SVU NBC Certain Renewal
Parks & Recreation NBC Certain Renewal
The Office NBC Certain Renewal
How I Met Your Mother CBS Renewed
The Big Bang Theory CBS Renewed
American Dad Fox Renewed
Family Guy Fox Renewed
The Cleveland Show Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Desperate Housewives ABC Final Season
Chuck NBC Final Season

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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