Upfront chatter: 'Scrubs' back? 'Three Rivers' flowing?

Zachbraff_sarahchalke_srubs_290 "Scrubs" aired an episode that could very well have been a series finale last week. But it's looking more and more like the series could return for a ninth season.

That, at least, is the word from Variety, which reports that "Scrubs," which ABC picked up from NBC this season, "continue[s] to look good" to survive into 2009-10 despite the departure of star Zach Braff and potentially that of creator Bill Lawrence (and follows several other reports that the show's chances for renewal are improving).

"Scrubs'" timeslot mate at ABC, "Better Off Ted," has also seen its prospects brighten thanks to critical support and a vocal if not especially big fan base. Lawrence, meanwhile, reportedly has a contender with his pilot "Cougar Town."

Since it's a week before the upfronts, you can probably find someone willing to tell you that any given pilot is a strong contender for next season. After surveying the latest from the trades and elsewhere on the web, though, here's a rundown of what shows have a pretty good chance of hearing their names called next week.

ABC

The network has already picked up two newbies for 2009-10 -- a comedy, "Modern Family," and a drama, "Flash Forward." Other comedies on the short list include the aforementioned "Cougar Town," starring Courteney Cox, and "Romantically Challenged," which stars Alyssa Milano and Eric Christian Olsen. The Lauren Graham vehicle "The Bridget Show" is maybe a step behind after reportedly getting a mixed reception in screenings.

The drama situation is pretty fluid. Depending on whom you ask, any of several pilots -- "Eastwick," "The Forgotten," "Inside the Box," "Happy Town," "V" or David Hemingon's legal show -- is high on the list. My guess is that the network will announce two or three comedies (including "Modern Family") and about the same number of dramas.

Alexoloughlin_moonlight_290 CBS

Deadline Hollywood Daily says that CBS would really like a medical show in its lineup, and of the handful of doctor pilots it has, "Three Rivers" is the strongest bet (cue happy noises from fans of "Moonlight star Alex O'Loughlin, who heads the "Three Rivers" cast). The "NCIS" spinoff continues to look like a no-brainer. Chances for other dramas, like "The Good Wife," "Washington Field" and a show about U.S. attorneys, will probably depend on how many of its veteran shows CBS cuts loose.

On the comedy side, Jenna Elfman's "Accidentally on Purpose" and "Happiness Isn't Everything," with Jason Biggs and Richard Dreyfuss, remain at the top of the list.

FOX

Another network in search of comedy. "Sons of Tucson," starring "Reaper's" Tyler Labine as a con artist, sounds like the surest bet so far, while "Brothers," with Darryl "Chill" Mitchell and ex-NFL star Michael Strahan, is picking up some support late in the game. FOX also has the "AbFab" remake and "Cop House" in its comedy pool.

"Human Target" is the hottest drama at the moment. The network will also have a full run of "Glee" starting in the fall.

NBC

Things have been relatively quiet since the network announced most of its lineup last week. A few more pickups are expected next week when NBC unveils its schedule on May 19, and all eyes will continue to be on "Chuck"; the last reports were that it looked like it had a decent chance of returning. If any other new shows come into the mix, the most likely bet is the Bradley Whitford-Romany Malco comedy "Off Duty."

The CW

The second-generation "Melrose Place" is pretty much a sure thing, to no one's surprise. There are conflicting reports about the 1980s-set "Gossip Girl" spinoff, whose de facto pilot airs as part of Monday's episode. "Vampire Diaries" and "A Beautiful Life," about New York models, will get long looks too.

Related:

ABC moves forward with 'Flash Forward'
ABC embraces 'Modern Family' for fall
Korbi TV: 'Scrubs' to return for a 9th year?
All of Zap2it's upfronts coverage