Lynette Rice
October 06, 2007 AT 07:17 AM EDT

Next Wednesday’s airing of CBS’ Cane could be a pivotal one for the Jimmy Smits drama about a Cuban-American family and its sugar empire. Viewership for the series dropped from 11.2 million during premiere week to 9.2 million on Oct. 3, while the show went from a 3.0 rating to a 2.5 in the key 18-49 demographic. (Adding insult to injury: Cane‘s lead-in, The Unit, actually built in viewers and in the demo, from 10.7 million to 11.3 and from a 2.8 to a 3.2.) Even media analysts like Shari Anne Brill from Carat USA are already predicting the show’s untimely demise. CBS may hold out on making a decision to yank Cane until it sees the results of DVR usage studies (due Oct. 15), though it is unlikely that those numbers would make a significant difference to Cane‘s bottom line. Fortunately for CBS, it won’t go down as the first network to cancel a show this season — that would be Fox with Nashville (although that network won’t exactly say whether it dumped the series completely). Meanwhile, CBS has some decent replacement shows waiting in the wings, including another season of The Amazing Race and the return of Jericho. The network also has the highly anticipated drama Swingtown — a period piece about swingers — but the network is expected to wait until midseason to launch that provocative drama.

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