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Cancel or keep? Bubble shows' fates to be revealed soon

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Monday, the networks begin their upfront presentations, where they reveal their next season's schedule. NBC goes first, with Fox later Monday. ABC is on Tuesday, CBS on Wednesday and The CW on May 16.

In regard to returning shows, upfronts are important because they'll reveal the fate of as-yet-unrenewed shows.

Not all shows that haven't been renewed are in jeopardy. For instance, shows like "Once Upon a Time," "Parks and Recreation" and "Modern Family" haven't officially been renewed, but you know they'll be coming back. Other shows, like "Nashville," "Go On" and "Suburgatory," aren't an absolute lock but are considered strong bets to return, so fans shouldn't sweat too much.

What shows are still on the bubble, then? Here's a look:

ABC: "Body of Proof," "Happy Endings," "How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)," "Last Man Standing," "The Neighbors," "Malibu Country," "Red Widow"

CBS: "CSI: NY," "Golden Boy," "Rules of Engagement," "Vegas"

The CW: "The Carrie Diaries," "Nikita"

Fox: "The Cleveland Show," "Touch"

NBC: "1600 Penn," "Community," "Deception," "Fashion Star," "Guys with Kids," "The New Normal," "Whitney"

Ratings, of course, play the biggest role in determining a show's fate. If they're not there, it's not worth the money for the network to produce that show.

But there are other factors, big and small.

One is how strong the pilot season is. Do the networks think what they've seen is better/more marketable than what they've got? Do they want to play it safe and keep something that's doing OK or take a risk and drop it for something new?

They might keep middling shows around, but use them at midseason or to fill in if new shows fail. CBS has been doing that with "Rules of Engagement" for years. The perennial death defier has never been a ratings powerhouse, but it's done just well enough that it's been worth keeping as a back-up show.

Then there's the matter of space. Networks only have a finite amount of it to work with, after all, and for some (CBS, especially), there's a lot less of that when all their hits are renewed.

Sometimes, compatibility can play a role, too. For instance, with "Gossip Girl," "90210" and "The Carrie Diaries," CW Monday nights have a glamorous soapy feel. With "Gossip Girl" and "90210" gone after this season, will The CW want to keep "Carrie" as the foundation to a night of such programming and add in something new that's similar, or will they wipe it out for two completely new shows?

Network support also can be a factor. Some shows on the bubble -- particularly more offbeat ones -- can get a boost if there's a lot of support internally.

Although fan support should not be discounted, it's the least of all factors. Shows that have been saved through fan campaigns ("Chuck," "Star Trek," "Roswell") get a lot of press, but they're in the minority.

Still, if you're truly passionate about a show, it can't hurt to give it a shot. Who knows? Your show could be the next "Drop Dead Diva," which Lifetime canceled in January but decided in March to revive after a strong fan campaign.

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Network season finales

ABC: "Once Upon a Time," 8 p.m., and "Revenge," 9 p.m. Sunday; "Castle," 10 p.m. Monday.

CBS: "Two and a Half Men," 8:30 p.m., and "Person of Interest," 9 p.m. Thursday; "Vegas," 9 p.m. (probable series finale), and "Blue Bloods," 10 p.m. Friday; "Survivor," 8 p.m. Sunday; "How I Meet Your Mother," 8 p.m., and "2 Broke Girls," 9 p.m. Monday; "NCIS," 8 p.m., "NCIS: LA," 9 p.m., and "Golden Boy," 10 p.m. (probable series finale) Tuesday; "CSI," 10 p.m. Wednesday.

CW: "Arrow," 8 p.m., and "Supernatural," 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Fox: "Glee," 9 p.m. Thursday; "Kitchen Nightmares," 8 p.m., and "Touch," 9 p.m. (probable series finale) Friday; "Bob's Burgers," 8:30 p.m., and "American Dad," 9:30 p.m. Sunday; "New Girl," 9 p.m., and "The Mindy Project," 9:30 p.m. Tuesday; "American Idol," 8 p.m. Wednesday (final performance round).

NBC: "Community," 8 p.m. Thursday (possible series finale); "Fashion Star," 8 p.m. Friday.

Series finale: "90210," 9 p.m. Monday, CW (two hours).

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Series premieres: "Future Firepower," 8 p.m. Thursday, Discovery (next-generation war weapons); "XOX Betsey Johnson," 8 p.m. (the fashion designer and her daughter), and "Resale Royalty," 9 p.m. (a designer resale shop) Sunday, Style Network; "Ultimate Survivor Alaska," 10 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic (reality competition).

Season premieres: "Wipeout," 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC (also airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays); "Small Town Security," 10 p.m. Thursday, AMC; "Long Island Medium," 8 p.m., and "Breaking Amish," 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC; "So You Think You Can Dance," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Fox.

Of note: Kristen Wiig hosts "Saturday Night Live," 11:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC; "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe" looks at the science behind "Star Trek Into Darkness," 10 p.m. Wednesday, History.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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