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Greetings to the New Season: Fox

The network upfronts roll on, this time with the fine folks at Fox trotting out their new fall schedule and revealing which new series have been selected to accompany those series which have survived. As of this writing, there are no clips to accompany the descriptions of the new shows, but I’m led to understand that we’ll be getting those in due course, so…oh, wait, scratch that: they just arrived!

Well, with that being the case, you can read the descriptions and check out the clips of what Fox has for us for the upcoming season. Just be sure to let us know what you think about what they’re offering up! Oh, and before you ask, we didn’t forget to include a clip for the last series. They didn’t offer a clip for the last series…but, hell, I don’t even think they’ve cast it yet, so at least they’ve got a good excuse.

MONDAY

8 – 9 PM: HOUSE

9 – 10 PM: LONESTAR: a provocative soap set against the backdrop of big Texas oil, from Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman, the creators of “Party of Five”; Marc Webb, the director of “(500) Days of Summer”; and creator Kyle Killen. Robert / Bob Allen (newcomer James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives in two different parts of Texas. He’s juggling two identities and two women in two very different worlds – all under one mountain of lies. As “Bob,” he lives in Houston and is married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki, “Friday Night Lights”), the beautiful daughter of Clint (Jon Voight, 24, “Midnight Cowboy”), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s “Robert,” living a second life with his sweet, naïve girlfriend, Lindsay (Eloise Mumford, “Mercy,” “Law & Order: SVU”). In Midland, he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly bilking local investors of their savings. In Houston, he’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out. Bob has lived both lives successfully for years without arousing any suspicions…so far.

While one brother-in-law, Drew (Bryce Johnson, “Popular,” “The Mentalist”), admires Bob, his other brother-in-law, Trammell (Mark Deklin, “Nip/Tuck,” “Desperate Housewives”), is suspicious of his motives. Bob begins to fear his secret lives may unravel. With the cons closing in on him, Bob is divided by his love for two women; his loyalty to his father and mentor, John (David Keith, “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “The Class”); and his respect for his father-in-law, Clint. Now as he tries to hold his two lives together, while fending off angry investors and the suspicions of those around him, Bob puts it all on the line hoping he can beat the odds, leave the schemes behind and keep two separate relationships afloat.

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“Fringe” producers, what were you thinking?

If Monday’s episode of “Fringe” is still sitting unwatched on your DVR, you may want to skip this post for now, and come back when you’re thoroughly confused. In fact, I’ll give this a good ol’ **SPOILER ALERT** for those who skim intros instead of reading them.

Anyway, Monday’s episode of “Fringe” started like any other episode of the series — with some sort of strange or creepy event. This time, it was a young girl who was considered brain dead and was about to have her organs harvested for donation when she woke up and started spewing military codes to the surgeon.

Fine, no problem. But then something strange happened — Charlie Francis appeared on screen! And it didn’t seem to be Shapeshifter Charlie (the one who looks dastardly no matter what he’s doing), it was the actual Charlie Francis. I paused the show and had the following conversation with my wife:

Me: “Wait, isn’t he dead?”
Her: “Yeah, didn’t she shoot him in the alley?”
Me: “The shapeshifter guy killed the original Charlie, right?”
Her: “I thought so.”

My guess is that some form of this conversation happened in millions of living rooms around the country during the first 15 minutes of the episode. I hit play and pulled out my trusty laptop, determined to find out what exactly was going on.

Can zombies do math? Find out on the next episode of “Fringe.”

As it turns out, this episode (“Unearthed”) was an unaired episode from Season 1, before Charlie was replaced by Shapeshifter Charlie. Why the producers would decide to air this episode as the first of 2010 is beyond me. Wouldn’t it be better not to thoroughly confuse your audience as you try to retain all those viewers that lived just fine without “Fringe” during the holiday break?

I don’t mind the unaired episode (I guess), but how about reshooting the scenes without Charlie? Or, at the very least, how about a graphic that says “15 months ago” or somesuch thing? Better yet, let’s have Kirk Acevedo (who plays Charlie) introduce the episode by telling people not to be alarmed when Zombie Charlie appears out of nowhere.

For their part, Fox put out the following press release before the episode aired:

While the girl’s mind-bending condition intensifies, Walter dusts off some old lab videos and hypothesizes the unthinkable, sending Olivia and Peter to investigate the bewildering case in an original “Unearthed” episode of FRINGE and here’s another mystery: is it an unaired episode from Season One or is it from an alternate universe?

Wait…what?

This sounds like a half-baked justification of airing an old episode in the middle of a new season. Normally, that would be somewhat acceptable, but what percentage of the audience was aware that this was an unaired episode (or one from an alternate universe–oooh) before they sat down to watch it? One percent? Two percent?

“Fringe” producers, what were you thinking?

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The Return of Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings

Ever since the writers’ strike, the television industry has been in a state of flux. Most networks still can’t figure out what works from what doesn’t, while the current economic climate has forced others to simply give up. Whether or not “The Jay Leno Show” is a success for NBC is debatable, but by surrendering the 10 p.m. time slot, they’ve greatly decreased their chances of bringing in new viewers. We would be exaggerating if we said the decision affected Bullz-Eye’s latest edition of the TV Power Rankings, but our Winter 2009 list does seem suspiciously familiar. Still, it isn’t without its surprises, as a longtime favorite returned from an extended hiatus to claim the top spot, while buzzworthy rookies like “Glee” and “FlashForward” also made impressive Top 10 debuts. At the end of the day, however, the real winner is HBO, who walked away with three of the four top spots, thus reestablishing themselves as the best network around.

A few examples from the piece:


5. Glee (Fox): There isn’t a show on this list that we love and hate with the same enthusiasm that we have for “Glee.” It contains some of the best-drawn characters in Fox’s history (aspiring diva Rachel Berry, adorable germaphobe Emma Pillsbury, cantankerous alpha female Sue Sylvester), and the iTunes chart-burning musical numbers, lip synching aside, are deliriously fun. Imagine, then, if they didn’t make these characters jump through such ridiculous hoops. Will’s wife is actually going to take her fake pregnancy to term? Emma agrees to marry Ken, but only as long as they never tell a soul? (Those plot threads brought to you by Bad Idea Jeans.) Yet for each blunder the show makes, they come up with something as brilliantly funny as Finn’s technique for not climaxing (he thinks about the time when he hit the mailman with his car), or the drama queen freak show that is Sandy Ryerson (a pitch-perfect Stephen Tobolowsky). Getting Josh Groban to do a cameo as a horndog version of himself, meanwhile – and hit on Will’s drunk mother – was a moment of “Arrested Development”-style genius. Yes, it’s made mistakes, but “Glee” gets a spot in our Top Five because no other show on TV sports dialogue like “mentally ill ginger pygmy with eyes like a bush baby.” But man, it would be a wonderful world if they did.David Medsker

15. Dexter (Showtime): Like “The Sopranos,” Dexter always has a theme that is explored within a season as a backdrop to the episodic progression of the show. Last season, it examined friendship within the context of Dexter’s secret world, and Jimmy Smits was brilliant as his first and only pal. This year explores the facets of intimate relationships, and balancing work and the rest of your life as it relates to it. Dexter (played with brilliant sincerity and conviction by Michael C. Hall) is struggling to find balance between his work as a blood splatter analyst, a new dad of an infant, stepfather to his wife’s kids, and his hobby of killing and dismembering other bad guys, while his entertainingly foul-mouthed sister Deb implodes the most stable relationship of her life when she sleeps with returning lover and retired FBI agent Frank Lundy. John Lithgow is also scary good as the Trinity Killer, the latest object of Dexter’s attention. When Trinity kills Lundy and wounds Deb while making it look like another killer’s signature, Dex is commanded by the ghost of Harry to seek revenge, making this season as entertaining as any in the past – no easy feat considering how consistently good this show has been.R. David Smola

Honorable MentionCougar Town (ABC): Yeah, yeah, we know: the title’s a bit dodgy. But Bill Lawrence, who co-created the show with Kevin Biegel, has said, “The roll of the dice I’ve made is that the title is noisy and that people will be aware of this show.” True enough, though the fact that the series stars Courtney Cox would’ve probably done a pretty decent job of putting it on people’s radar, anyway. The pilot alone was strong enough to suggest that “Cougar Town” could prove to be the perfect series for female viewers who’ve outgrown “Sex and the City,” but with enough of a dysfunctional family element to fit perfectly into the closing slot in ABC’s new Wednesday night comedy line-up. Although the show continues to hone its comedic formula, the trio of Cox, Christa Miller and Busy Philipps clicked immediately (particularly the latter two, with their characters’ diametrically opposed personalities), and the relationship between the teenaged Travis and his man-child of a father rings true with its blend of unconditional love and complete embarrassment. Now that Jules’s fling with Josh is over, however, we’re curious to see who’ll be next on her slate to date — and how long this one will last.Will Harris

Returning in 2010Lost (ABC): Here we are, folks. After five seasons of confusing viewers with one of the most elaborate mythologies on television, “Lost” is finally in the home stretch. Want to know what the heck that smoke monster really is? How about the weird statue? Heck, what about the Dharma Initiative itself? All will supposedly be revealed in the sixth and final season of one of the smartest, most fearless shows network television has ever bothered to offer. Of course, this being “Lost,” we still have something to bitch about – namely, that the goddamn Olympics will interrupt the show’s final 18 episodes – but if we’ve waited this long to determine the ultimate fate of our favorite island castaways, what’s a few weeks of curling and cross-country skiing? We’ve all had our issues with the way “Lost” has unfolded over the years, and the show isn’t the phenomenon it was in its first couple of seasons. To cop one of the fall’s most popular phrases, though, this is it – and if there’s ever been a serialized drama with the guts to stick the landing and make its finale truly count, we’re betting it’s “Lost.”Jeff Giles

Check out Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings in their entirety by clicking here or on the big-arse graphic you see before you. Also, be sure to check out the accompanying interviews with folks associated with the various shows, including David Goyer (“FlashForward”), Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jonathan Ames (“Bored to Death”), and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”).

Did any of your favorite shows miss the cut? Let us know by replying below!

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Extremely late Friday night news dump

Hey folks, day time tasks have slowed me down, but who was it who said “the night was made for movie blogging”? Okay, no one said that, but we all know it’s true! Anyhow, here are some items from throughout the week I haven’t had a chance to touch on…

* This interview with director Mary Harron has been linked to by several different bloggers throughout the week. If memory serves, it may not actually be new news that Christian Bale partially based his genius-level breakthrough performance in 2000′s “American Psycho” on Tom Cruise, but it’s perhaps more intriguing now that we think we more about both actors’ quirks.

Christian Bale in "American Psycho"

* It might be inside critic/film blogger baseball to you but it’s big — and somewhat distressing — news to me. The thought provoking and just plain cool Karina Longworth, who has helped me out via the miracle of linking many times at her Spout blog home, will be leaving the site at the end of the month, which will also no longer be providing new content including the work of Christopher Campbell (I frequently link to his “The Day in Film Bloggery” posts.).

Somewhat oddly, her soon to be ex-boss attributed her departure not to fiscal issues but to a difference over “vision” for the blog. So, his “vision” was not to have one at all? Anyhow, the consensus is that the hardworking Longworth will be going places regardless.

* I strongly disliked the pilot for “Fringe” (and said so right here) and, unlike David Medsker, I outright hated “Transformers.” (I didn’t even make it through the whole movie…oh, the pleasures of not reviewing.) Then screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman surprised the heck out of me by crafting a perfectly terrific script for “Star Trek,” marred only a little by director J.J. Abram’s hyperactive visual proclivities. (What’s wrong with using a tripod sometimes? Still, he got terrific performances and told a dandy tale, so I’m not complaining too much.) Anyhow, the  writers’ thoughts on the sequel are worth a look.

* Jackie Chan and Andy Lau are remaking Jet Li‘s 1981 breakthrough film, which I’m ashamed to say I’ve never even heard of before (at least not that I can remember), “Shaolin Temple.” I guess I should try to see it. Considering that Li was barely 19 back then and that Chan is now 55 (Lau’s in his forties), I trust he’s not playing the same character…or it’s been seriously rewritten.

* Disney is reportedly working on a “digital cloud,” in which content will be purchased and viewable in multiple formats. I generally get the consumer appeal of this, but I still fail to see why anyone would want to watch a movie on a cell phone. In fact, I think even the larger online version of this is way too small for this kind of beauty. (There’s a very brief Spanish language intro, by far the best version of this Disney classic I found on YouTube — the segment starts at 0:23.)

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TCA Tour: “Fringe”

Fox’s “Fringe” premiered last season to a ridiculous amount of buzz, thanks to the combination of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, a trio whose various credits (many of them shared) – “Alias,” “Lost,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Transformers,” and the then-still-forthcoming “Star Trek” – were more than sufficient to get the sci-fi fanboys into a tizzy. Things may have started off a bit rocky, mostly due to a slight uncertainty about exactly what the hell was going on, but by the close of the season finale, when we found ourselves barely getting over that guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy before we found ourselves looking at a still-standing World Trade Center, we were already ready for Season 2 to begin.

“As we went along, I think we got a better handle on the balance of our characters and the plots and making sure that our plots were character-centric,” admitted executive producer Jeff Pinkner. “I think that we learned how to write for these actors, these characters over time, and I think we learned this in ‘Alias’ and ‘Lost.’ The shows that are really about the characters, the characters and the actors playing them start to meld a little bit more, and I think we’ve gotten better at that.”

Orci noted that one of the series’ biggest issue from the very beginning was figuring out the percentage of standalone episodes versus a larger serialization. “We’ve all read the research that says a regular viewer watches three episodes in a year, etcetera, etcetera, so you try to modulate,” he explained. “In the first season, we actually had to sort of plan around resetting the series once or twice and doing it around three- or four-week-long breaks. And that kind of exercise makes us, in Season Two, a little more flexible, a little bit more able to read the green. And I think, you know, the fact that we are closer than we were from New York is also helpful. We can all be up there a little bit more; we can communicate better with each other. I think we’re just a tighter ship this year.”

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Please, won’t you lend a television critic a hand?

The Television Critics Association has officially begun the gearing-up process for its 25th annual awards, which will honor the finest work of the 2008-09 season as selected by the association’s 200-plus member critics and journalists. One of those members is yours truly, and I figured I’d see what the readers of Premium Hollywood had to say about the nominations and who they’d like to see win the various categories. I’ll have to submit my votes by June 10th, but since the winners won’t be announced until August 1st (the ceremony takes place at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena, CA, with Chelsea Handler opening the ceremony), so speak up quickly. There are a couple of things I’m on the fence about, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts before I make my final selections.

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR

* “Battlestar Galactica” (SciFi Channel)
* “Lost” (ABC)
* “Mad Men” (AMC)
* “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
* “The Shield” (FX)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY

* “30 Rock” (NBC)
* “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
* “The Daily Show” (Comedy Central)
* “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS)
* “The Office” (NBC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA

* “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
* “Friday Night Lights” (NBC/DirecTV)
* “Lost” (ABC)
* “Mad Men” (AMC)
* “The Shield” (FX)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT MOVIES, MINI-SERIES AND SPECIALS

* Summer Olympic Coverage (NBC)
* “24: Redemption” (Fox)
* “Generation Kill” (HBO)
* “Grey Gardens” (HBO)
* “Taking Chance” (HBO)

OUTSTANDING NEW PROGRAM OF THE YEAR

“Fringe” (Fox)
“The Mentalist” (CBS)
“No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” (HBO)
“True Blood” (HBO)
“United States of Tara” (Showtime)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY

* Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
* Steve Carell (“The Office”)
* Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)
* Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)
* Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA

* Glenn Close (“Damages”)
* Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)
* Walton Goggins (“The Shield”)
* Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”)
* Hugh Laurie (“House”)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING

* “Camp Rock” (The Disney Channel)
* “The Electric Company” (PBS)
* “Nick News” (Nickelodeon)
* “Sid the Science Kid” (PBS)
* “Yo Gabba Gabba” (Nickelodeon)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS & INFORMATION

* “60 Minutes” (CBS)
* “The Alzheimer’s Project” (HBO)
* “Frontline” (PBS)
* “The Rachel Maddow Show” (MSNBC)
* “We Shall Remain” (PBS)

HERITAGE AWARD

* “ER” (NBC)
* “M*A*S*H” (CBS)
* “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
* “The Shield” (FX)
* “Star Trek” (NBC)

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“Fringe” star fired

It looks like “Fringe” might be replacing one of its cast members — Kirk Acavedo (a.k.a. Agent Charlie Francis) — and based on his Facebook update, he’s not too happy about it.

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Fox: The Fall Schedule

Fox has officially announced its schedule for the fall, but let’s lead with a bit of bad news: “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is not on it. The network officially canceled the series, and while I’m still dumbfounded by that decision, you know they’ll double-back and find a way to get it back onto the schedule if “Terminator: Salvation” is a hit. Or maybe they’ll release a straight-to-DVD movie which picks up where the series ends. Either way, I just cannot imagine that this will be the complete and total end of Sarah Connor’s TV adventures.

Okay, onto what is on the schedule, along with a few editorial comments…

MONDAY

8:00 PM – House
9:00 PM – LIE TO ME

Looks like another year of having to watch “House” and “Lie To Me” as full-season sets when they come out on DVD, because I’m still going to be watching “The Big Bang Theory,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Heroes.”

TUESDAY

8:00 PM – So You Think You Can Dance

WEDNESDAY

8:00 PM – So You Think You Can Dance Results Show

9:00 PM – Glee

The distinctive new comedy from Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck”) starring Jane Lynch (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”) and newcomers Matthew Morrison (Broadway’s “Hairspray”), Lea Michele (“Spring Awakening”) and Cory Monteith (“Kyle XY”). Combining biting humor with a soundtrack of hit music from past to present, the inventive series follows an optimistic high school teacher who – against all odds – attempts to restore McKinley High’s fading Glee Club to its former glory, while helping a group of underdogs realize their true star potential.

THURSDAY

8:00 PM – Bones
9:00 PM – Fringe

When my wife finds out that “Fringe” is going to be competing against her beloved “Office,” she’s gonna be so pissed…

FRIDAY

8:00 PM – Brothers

A new half-hour comedy about a former big-city NFL hot shot who returns home to his family – and his mother’s house – to get his life back on track. Starring Michael Strahan (“FOX NFL Sunday”) and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Ed,” “Veronica’s Closet”).

8:30 PM – ‘Til Death

9:00 PM – Dollhouse

Really? They canceled “Sarah Connor” for this? And do they really think this coupling is going to help the “Dollhouse” numbers?

SATURDAY

8:00 PM – Cops

8:30 PM – Cops

9:00 PM – America’s Most Wanted

11:00 PM – The Wanda Sykes ShowThe irreverent Saturday late-night series will feature Sykes’ outspoken comedic perspective on current events along with topical, high-energy roundtable discussions.

12:00 AM – Animation Domination encores

SUNDAY

7:00 PM – The OT (NFL Post-Game Show)

8:00 PM – The Simpsons

8:30 PM – The Cleveland ShowEveryone’s favorite soft-spoken FAMILY GUY neighbor, Cleveland Brown, moves with his son back to his hometown in Virginia and settles down with his high school sweetheart and her unruly kids.

9:00 PM – Family Guy

9:30 PM – American Dad

MIDSEASON

MONDAY

8:00 PM – House
9:00 PM – 24

TUESDAY

8:00 PM – American Idol

9:00 PM – Past Life

A fast-paced emotional thriller inspired by the book “The Reincarnationist.” The series stars Kelli Giddish (“All My Children”) as a gifted psychologist and Nicholas Bishop (“Home and Away”) as a former NYPD detective who work together to explore and unravel mysteries that must be solved in both the past and the present.

Wow, that doesn’t sound at all like “Life on Mars.”

WEDNESDAY

8:00 PM – American Idol Results Show

9:00 PM – Human Target

A full-throttle, action-packed thrill ride from executive producers McG (“Terminator Salvation”) and Simon West (“Con Air,” “Tomb Raider”). Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel and starring Mark Valley (FRINGE), Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies”) and Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”), the series follows CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Valley), a unique private contractor who will stop at nothing – even if it means becoming a human target – to keep his clients alive.

Anyone else noting the irony that the director of the new “Terminator” movie is getting a show just as the “Terminator” TV series is getting canceled?

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM BONES

9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

FRIDAY

8:00-8:30 PM BROTHERS

8:30-9:00 PM ‘TIL DEATH

9:00-10:00 PM DOLLHOUSE

SATURDAY

8:00-8:30 PM COPS

8:30-9:00 PM COPS

9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED

11:00 PM-Midnight THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)

Midnight-12:30 AM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES

SUNDAY

7:00 PM – Animation Domination encores

7:30 PM – American Dad

8:00 PM – The Simpsons

8:30 PM – Sons of Tucson

From three-time Emmy Award winner Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”), the non-traditional family comedy stars Tyler Labine (“Reaper”) as a charming but wayward schemer hired by three young brothers whose father is in prison.

9:00 PM – Family Guy

9:30 PM – The Cleveland Show

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Ausiello keeps track of the bubble shows

EW.com’s Michael Ausiello is tuned into the world of television, and his information can usually be trusted. He has an article devoted to the current status of all the shows (renewed, cancelled, on the bubble, etc.) and suggests that readers bookmark it. Here are his thoughts on a few of the shows currently on the bubble.

Scrubs: Prospects brightening.
The Unusuals: A long shot.
Eleventh Hour: Could go either way. Now a long shot. Hearing the crew is looking for other work.
The Unit: A long shot. Now hearing it’s a goner.
Dollhouse: Could go either way. Now hearing it’s a long shot.
Fringe: Sure thing.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: A long shot.
Chuck: Could go either way.
Life: A long shot. Now hearing it’s a goner.
Medium: Safe bet.
My Name is Earl: Could go either way. Fox may rescue it if NBC passes.
Southland: Sure thing.
Privileged: Prospects brightening.
Reaper: It’s a goner.

I’m bummed to hear that the news on “The Unit” isn’t getting better. CBS invited Shawn Ryan to pitch story ideas for another season, and the show has been pretty great the last two years. It’s good to see that “Fringe” is considered a sure thing — I hadn’t heard much about how well it was doing ratings-wise this season. “Southland” continues to get good reviews. I don’t know that the world needs another cop show. My tastes are pretty particular after watching great shows like “NYPD Blue,” “The Shield” and “The Wire,” so I haven’t watched it, but if I keep hearing good things, I may dive in this summer when there isn’t much else on.

If you don’t see your favorite show on this list, be sure to check this link for the latest info. I’d like to see Ausiello tackle some of the basic and pay cable shows on FX, TNT, TBS, USA, HBO and Showtime, but this page only covers the major networks.

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Currently on the Bubble: Half the Reasons I Watch Network TV.

Have you noticed an intoxicating scent of fear and desperation in the air recently? When you catch that scent wafting in from the general direction Hollywood, you know we’ve reached the time when the networks have begun to look very, very seriously at their schedules in order to determine which of the shows that haven’t yet earned pick-up notices for their next season actually deserve those notices. This year, the stench is particularly strong, what with the combination of Jay Leno’s new M-F 10 PM show killing five perfectly good spots for hourlong drama on NBC, the general economic situation, and the American public still not really having much of an interest in watching anything original. Keeping in mind, of course, that when I say “the American public,” I’m not talking about you

“No, Mum, they haven’t officially canceled ‘Eleventh Hour’ yet. I’ll keep you posted, though, shall I?”

Nellie Andreeva at the Hollywood Reporter has put together a piece where she gives a rundown of what shows are still waiting to find out if they’re going to get a pink slip or a terse note saying, “Yeah, yeah, you’ve got another season, now get your ass back to work,” while Hercules over at Ain’t It Cool News has taken the work out of it for you and simply offered up three succinct lists: Likely To Return, Unlikely to Return, and 50/50.

Taking the “Likely to Return” list – “Ghost Whisperer,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Law & Order,” “Numb3rs,” “Southland,” and “Ugly Betty” – out of discussion for the moment, I don’t mind telling you that, between the other two lists, it’s highly depressing to see about half of my TiVo Season Passes get cited. (Not mentioned in the Hollywood Reporter piece is “Kings,” but I agree with Herc that it’s probably been left out because its permanent vacation at the end of its Saturday night death slot run is considered a given.) Regular Premium Hollywood readers will already know that our man John Paulsen has been covering the death knell of several of these shows and established his feelings on what he’d be bummed to see depart, but here are the five shows – one per network, so as not to be greedy – that I’d most like to see earn a reprieve from cancellation:

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