Although the end of this TV season is still over three months away, there's already plenty of speculation about which programs might get cancelled and which will get renewed, causing us to worry that some of our favorites won't be around this time next year. After we had expressed concern for the shows on the bubble last spring, most of them ended up getting yanked (Life), put out to pasture (Better Off Ted, which hasn't officially been killed yet, but looks like a hopeless case), shuffled off to bad timeslots (Fringe) or screwed over in unexpected fashion (Southland). This time around, we're hoping the TV gods (and executives) will be kinder to our pleas of clemency for these series:
10. Life Unexpected
We're undecided about this one. It's got a sweet and wonderful old school WB vibe, which we truly appreciate, but a lot of what was so charming about the pilot has already worn thin a few weeks later. At first, we felt sorry for the sad little moppet with the annoying name who had suffered through lousy foster care, but we've since realized that she's kind of a brat with friends who are real jerks. However, it's still better than, say, 90210, which has already earned a third season, and some of the adults on the show have a ton of appeal, so we think it deserves time to grow.
While most of ABC Family's fare is way too geared towards teens for our liking, Greek is actually an enjoyable guilty pleasure that's as decent as anything that we watch on The CW (and yes, that's a compliment). It has an adorable cast, fun pop culture references and solid storylines. It's a shame that out of all of the network's shows, this is the one that may be in danger of getting the ax, but given that we're not exactly the ABC Family target demo, we're not entirely surprised. [Update: ABC Family renewed the show late Friday. So one down, nine to go.]
8. Melrose Place
Speaking of The CW, their troubled reboot of one of the most notorious primetime soaps of all time is in danger of getting shelved. It's not that we think the show is particularly awesome, but we like that that they finally wrapped up the annoying Sydney murder storyline, found a way to send Ashlee Simpson packing and got Heather Locklear to show up. We want to see what the show can do now that it's rid of some dead weight, and more importantly, we want the totally rocking Katie Cassidy to stay employed for as long as possible.
We were very harsh on the show's pilot and deservedly so, considering its muddled mess of a medical drama, but we decided to give it another shot (the power of Dawson compelled us) and discovered that it's actually pretty decent. It's gone beyond a lot of the predictable stereotypes in the premiere and has developed its characters nicely. James Van Der Beek has been a great addition as a tough, sarcastic boss (which is perfect for him) and Michelle Trachtenberg's whiny nurse has actually grown a bit of a spine. It's far from the best show on television, but it's at least as deserving of a pick-up as Private Practice.
It's no secret that the show's had a difficult first season: declining ratings, a revolving door of showrunners, more than a few storylines that are just way too easy to make fun of -- and only a couple that are genuinely gripping -- and a lengthy, memory-wiping hiatus from December to March that could spell doom for its long-term prospects. But despite its missteps, the show has enough potential to make us want to root for it. The producers seem to realize that they screwed up their first chance and have taken measures behind the scenes to improve, and though we haven't seen any of the new episodes yet, we don't see any reason why it can't quickly become a brilliant show, not unlike Dollhouse did in its second season.
It's not terribly original (even as far as reboots go) and has been less than exciting to date, but we do like much of the cast, so if the writers would just get their act together, we'd love to watch a genuinely compelling sci-fi action show about earthlings fighting aliens and their nefarious universal health care. We suggest they start by giving the human characters personalities, which apparently got lost during the initial development process. Plus, if the show doesn't come back next season, we won't be able to see those cameos from Jane Badler, Mark Singer and Michael Ironside that we've been dreaming about.
As we mentioned above, this show was screwed over royally last year, effectively getting canceled by NBC just weeks before it was set to debut a second season. We're grateful that TNT picked up the six new episodes that had already been filmed and, after having seen two of them in advance, we're happier still to report the absence of any signs of a sophomore slump. But we'd be downright ecstatic if the cable network decided to give the gritty cop drama a third season, this time with an order of at least 13 episodes.
This show is definitely not Battlestar Galactica, but that doesn't mean that it isn't quality sci-fi. Fans of BSG might be disappointed by the lack of action and the slightly more talky nature of this series, but there are still plenty of thought-provoking issues being raised each week, innovative storytelling techniques and some stellar performances, not to mention frakked-up teenage Cylons. What more could anyone want? We just hope that despite low ratings, Syfy will give this show a chance to expand its viewership.
It's hard to say what FX will do with this series. It's already been granted three seasons despite never having had great ratings, but trying to predict a network that commits to shows simply because they're genuinely good is a little difficult due to its rarity in the TV biz. If they are considering canceling Damages, they shouldn't. Season 2 was a big disappointment, but this current season is so good it's almost erased all memory of every 10-minute-long scene with Marcia Gay Harden pretending that straightening her thigh-highs constitutes art (translation: about 60% of Season 2; we wish we were joking). And for the first time since the debut season, we're rooting for Patty Hewes again. A continuance is respectfully requested, your honor.
This show is expensive, but the ratings are perfectly respectable and Kiefer loves being Jack Bauer. Our gut tells us that it's going to come back for one more year, but if it doesn't, it'll be the end of an era and a premature finish. Seasons 7 and 8 have been just as compelling and absurdly fun as the show's early years, and that's without CTU mercilessly torturing people every week (a real-life policy change many thought would end the show). They've found a way to successfully reinvent the franchise without losing what made the series and lead character great to begin with, and for that, 24 deserves another 24 episodes next year.
We realize that Heroes is not on this list, but that's mostly because after watching a full season centered around a carnival, we're not entirely sure that we actually want the show to come back, despite our strong affection for characters like HRG. And we didn't mention Chuck because we're hoping that assuming it'll come back will somehow cosmically make it so. And because we can't stand the thought of eating even more Subway sandwiches to save it again.
Get the scoop on Southland from star Michael Cudlitz.
Watch TWoP's editors discuss the shows that deserve another chance in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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