To make room for the nearly 100 pilots vying for commitments this fall, Big Four network execs will spend the coming weeks agonizing over which series to renew or eschew. ”If a [borderline] show gets a couple more ratings points in April or May — even just one — that can make the difference,” says Fox VP Bob Greenblatt. Herewith, our bets on some shaky high-profile series:
NBC NEWSRADIO The net’s lowest-rated comedy was a critical hit with Seinfeld-like potential before its disastrous move to Wednesday. Prognosis: Despite rumors that NBC has lost interest, it will likely return on a better night. MEN BEHAVING BADLY Heavy Peacock plugs, yet audiences are still misbehaving (currently, Men languishes at a season-to-date ranking of 77). Prognosis: NBC is so high on the concept, they’ll recast one or all of the leads before canceling. THE SINGLE GUY Critics still hate it, and a switch to Wednesday proved it’s nothing without Thursday. Prognosis: Even with NBC’s co-ownership, you have a better chance of seeing Jonathan Silverman in Weekend at Bernie’s III. THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW Beats Cosby among 18-to-49-year-olds but still treading ratings water (No. 65). Prognosis: Odds for renewal are slightly larger than Foxworthy squirt Jonathan Lipnicki. THE NAKED TRUTH Another critical loser with Thursday protection. Prognosis: NBC made a big deal about swiping Téa Leoni from ABC. That and good ratings (No. 5) mean more exposure for Naked.
CBS EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND The Eye has few other promising new sitcoms, and the move to Monday made it a contender. Prognosis: It’s a keeper. EZ STREETS The season’s acclaimed new drama adds much-needed edge to the family net, but a relaunch hasn’t helped (it’s No. 115). Prognosis: With other gritty shows in development, Streets is looking like a dead end. INK Even with a ratings-boosting switch to 9:30, it’s still solid Monday’s weak link. Prognosis: Given the $20 million-plus investment and the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen marquee value, CBS will keep the presses running — with a probable creative shake-up. PEARL Rhea Perlman went back to school, and viewers played hooky; it’s ranked 75th among 18-to-49-year-olds. Prognosis: Won’t be a jewel in CBS’ fall crown.
ABC RELATIVITY Devoted female fans won it three more Monday airings — where it was beaten its first night by Cosby, Mad About You, and Melrose. Prognosis: There’s always Lifetime. THE PRACTICE Just decent ratings, but Dylan McDermott is emerging as a major TV hunk. Prognosis: Should earn a retrial next season. MURDER ONE Never grew beyond its cult base; six remaining episodes have been exiled to summer. Prognosis: Consider Murder’s case closed. ARSENIO Can’t settle on creative direction; can’t hold bountiful Drew Carey audience. Prognosis: ABC spent too much not to bring it back, but expect a major overhaul.
FOX PAULY After Shore’s modest debut, his show’s numbers continue to dumb down. Prognosis: Excellent — on MTV.