'Chuck,' 'Outsourced,' 'Parenthood': Keep 'em or kill 'em?
One of them, "Chuck," is a Bubble Watch perennial, a show with a passionate fan base that's not quite big enough to make its renewal an easy decision. Whatever decision NBC ends up making, though, we can count on it being one of the more closely watched shows as the May upfronts approach.
Another big factor will be how much of a stamp NBC's new leadership, headed by former Showtime chief Bob Greenblatt, will want to put on the 2011-12 schedule. The network has 22 pilots -- 10 dramas and 12 comedies -- in development, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see NBC do a pretty radical makeover of its lineup next fall.
As with our previous Bubble Watch posts, let us know what you think by voting in the polls and sounding off in the comments. (Two shows not on our bubble list: "Perfect Couples," whose meager ratings and the fact that Kyle Bornheimer and David Walton have taken other pilots mean it's likely on the way out; and "Harry's Law," whose demographic ratings aren't great but whose total audience is the biggest for any NBC show not involving the NFL.)
The case for it: Consistency. "Chuck's" audience isn't big, but it's loyal. It airs in one of the tougher time periods on TV, but despite that NBC knows pretty much what ratings it will get week to week.
The case against it: That audience is consistently not all that large. The show's numbers are down compared to last season both overall (7.4 million vs. 5.9 million) and among adults 18-49 (2.7 vs. 2.1).
The case for it: A little hard to make at this point. NBC did the show no favors by giving it a three-month layoff in the middle of the season, but even before that its ratings were in decline. One (somewhat) positive note: The core cast has stayed put this pilot season.
The case against it: Those declines have been pretty steep. "The Event" premiered to almost ll million viewers and a 3.6 adults 18-49 rating in September, but in the past few weeks its same-day numbers have been below 5 million viewers and well below the 2.0 mark in adults 18-49.
"Law & Order: Los Angeles"
The case for it: Even before its much-discussed retooling, the newest entrant in the "L&O" franchise put up OK numbers: 9 million viewers and a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49. That's ahead of the numbers (albeit with fewer repeats included) for the original "Law & Order" last season.
The case against it: Those numbers are just OK, not great. A lot will depend on how the show does when it returns April 11.
The case for it: "Outsourced" survived a barrage of negative reviews in the fall and did a decent job of holding onto the ratings for its lead-in, "The Office."
The case against it: Its post-"Office" retention was only OK (68 percent of adults 18-49 and 75 percent of total viewers), and its decline since moving to 10:30 p.m. suggests that it hasn't become a destination show in its own right.
The case for it: Its overall audience is fairly small (6.8 million), but it's an attractive one: More than half of its viewers are in the 18-49 demographic. It's tied with "The Good Wife," which has a much bigger overall audience, for the demo lead in its timeslot.
The case against it: It hasn't broken out in its second season, and it took a beating opposite the premiere of ABC's "Body of Proof" earlier this week. Can it recover some if "Proof" stays strong?