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The TV Cancellation Watch

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 9, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 9, 2009 |

Three weeks into the new fall television season, it’s time to check out the ratings landscape. We’ve got a good sampling of the new and returning fall shows now, as well as their ratings, so it’s fairly easy to see which way the winds are blowing.

First up, some good news: Two of our Five Best New Shows of the Fall season have already been picked up for the full year: ABC has picked up “Modern Family” (yay!), “The Middle” (cool) and even “Cougar Town” (improving) for the full season. That’s great news for ABC, but not so great news for “Hank,” which was the only show of the four not to get picked up. It’s ratings haven’t exactly been spectacular, either (it got beat by “New Adventures of the Old Christine,” this last week). Add to that the fact that it doesn’t fit very well into the ABC comedy block, and I think we can see where this is heading. “Hank” will probably be pulled in time for the November sweeps; we can hope that “Better Off Ted,” fills the slot.

I think we may have mentioned it before, but “Glee,” over on Fox has also been picked up for the full season. That’s good news for those who have DVRs, because Wednesday has just become the new Thursday. And we can all rest easy about fears that “Glee” and “Modern Family” might disappear before the season is out.

Over on CBS, they’ve also renewed a couple of shows: “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which comes as no surprise. It’s the top rated new show of the year. They also picked up “The Good Wife,” another of our Top Five New Shows — it’s the second highest rated new drama of the year.

So, the only show in our top five not to get a full season order so far is “Community,” and given the state of things over on NBC right now, it’s actually looking good for a full season. Why? Because they don’t have shit to fall back on. In fact, an NBC insider told this to Nikke Finke:

“There’s nothing watchable the rest of the year. Nothing watchable the rest of the season, Maybe Jerry Seinfeld’s “The Marriage Ref” will work, but he’s not even in it. This is not a fun place to be right now. And we committed to Jay Leno on the air for 2 years because he was worried we’d have an itchy trigger finger. It’s an embarrassment for all of us. Maybe he’ll get fed up — he’s not right now — and then we can re-negotiate.

That’s right. NBC is basically stuck with Leno — I understand there’s a hefty penalty if they cancel. Add this to their woes: “Southland,” which hasn’t even began airing this season yet, has already been cancelled. It was decent, actually, for a cop show, but the show’s fate was basically sealed when they decided to move it to Friday nights. Finke hears that “Trauma” — because of his $3 million per episode expense (and it’s mediocre ratings) — is likely next to get the axe. If you’re still watching it, it’s safe to kill it from your DVR. No need to get attached to characters that won’t make it to November.

There’s no official word with regard to any other shows, but the ratings suggest already that a few may not be long for this world. “Eastwick” was even with “The Jay Leno Show,” on Wednesday, and that’s not good, given Leno’s poor ratings. “The Forgotten” is faring better than “Leno,” in its time slot, but it’s shedding a ton of viewers from its “Dancing with the Stars” lead-in, so don’t expect it to make it very far. “Heroes” continues to struggle, but it’s on NBC, so it’s likely getting a full year. Meanwhile, on Fridays, the ratings for “Dollhouse” are just embarrassing — the handful of fans on Pajiba who watch the show may actually be the only ones. It’s barely getting two million viewers — a rerun of “The Forgotten” more than doubled its ratings in the same timeslot. You can give Fox a lot of hell for cancelling shows to early, but I suspect the only reason they’ve kept “Dollhouse” on the sked this long is because of their loyalty to Whedon.

A final note: If you like “Community,” well … you might also like this:

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.