Photo Credit: NBC; FOX
In finicky TV Land, where executives strive to please advertisers with high ratings numbers, no TV show can consider itself truly safe. Most vulnerable are the newest shows, which haven't had much time to draw audiences in. But long-running hit shows can also slip quickly out of favor, once they start showing some wear and tear. Even a great first year for a series doesn't guarantee a second or third one (witness NBC's Heroes).
On the other hand, lots of smart, well-written shows do manage to find their footing and entertain us year after year. Sometimes, they're overshadowed by newer, trendier series -- but that doesn't mean they're going anywhere. You may not hear a lot about ABC's Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy, or NBC's Parenthood, but they're still attracting viewers in large enough numbers to keep them going.
The networks have offered a standard commitment (they'll order a full season's worth of episodes) to several new fall shows. Among those with a healthy pulse are CBS's Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods, Mike & Molly, The Defenders and $#*! My Dad Says; NBC's Outsourced, The Event and Law & Order: LA; Fox's Raising Hope; ABC's No Ordinary Family and Better With You; and The CW's Hellcats and Nikita.
NBC's Community doesn't have much buzz, and its morning-after ratings numbers are dismal. But once you factor in DVR numbers, the show holds its own, coming in just below the most popular comedies on TV, like The Office and Modern Family.
At ABC, neither Undercovers nor Detroit 1-8-7 was a hit out of the gate. But the network has given each of these relatively strong shows a little more time to wow viewers (and more importantly, advertisers). And Fox is allowing Human Target to hang in there a little while longer; it just ordered two more scripts.
The CW's Life Unexpected, which is in its second season, didn't make the list when the network announced its full-season pickups. Fox's Running Wilde and The Good Guys are in the same boat: The network hasn't mentioned them despite announcing its decision to pick up a full season of Raising Hope. And CBS has cut back on its episode order for Medium, from 22 to 13 episodes. That's usually a death knell.
These four shows have already been put out of their low-ratings misery: ABC's My Generation, The Gates and The Whole Truth; and NBC's Outlaw.