Networks expected to be generous with series renewals

Mon May 5, 2008 8:46am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For broadcast series still hoping for a renewal, the past week was rough sledding.

CBS' "Shark" and ABC's "Women's Murder Club" returned to post about a 2.0 rating among adults 18 to 49, joining low-rated outings by fellow "bubble shows" "Moonlight" (CBS), "Boston Legal" (ABC) and "Reaper" (The CW).

But with most scripted series struggling from a writers' strike ratings hangover, the networks seem inclined to give some of the lagging shows a second chance this fall.

Here's how things stand:

* "Men in Trees": Producers of ABC's drama were recently told the show will not return for a third season. Last year, the show scored a surprising early renewal, but in April it averaged only about a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

* "Boston Legal": A recent episode of "Legal" hit a series low, but, then again, what show hasn't? Given a strong lead-in, "Legal" tends to hold a reliable number. It's also an Emmy darling. A likely pickup.

* "Reaper": The word on CW's cult-favorite supernatural comedy-drama has turned unexpectedly positive. Though recent episodes have pulled about a 1.1 rating, the CW needs a suitable Thursday night partner for "Supernatural" because next season is expected to be the last for "Smallville." Plus, after adding DVR use, "Reaper" ratings often climb more percentage points than any other series, and CW executives are fond of the show.

* "Shark": Another network might be inclined to give this drama another chance, but CBS sets a high ratings bar for pickups, and "Shark" has a tough time clearing it. Industry oddsmakers are pessimistic about a fall return.   Continued...

<p>James Woods, who plays the lead role of Sebastian Stark, answers questions about the CBS production "Shark" at the 2006 Summer CBS Television Critics Association press tour held in Pasadena, California, July 15, 2006. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>