They’ve not been cancelled (yet!) but low ratings mean that a few high-profile shows are increasingly looking like they may be living on borrowed time.
Heroes: The disappointing, poorly-received second season (which was truncated due to the writers’ strike) seems to have alienated a lot of the viewers that helped make the show such a hit in season one. An average of 13.3million viewers watched season 1. Season 2 managed an average of 11.3 but season 3 is down to 8.6million.
A recent behind-the-scenes reshuffle has seen writer/producer Bryan Fuller brought back in to help get the show back on track. Fuller was involved in season 1 of Heroes but left to create Pushing Daisies, which was recently cancelled (see the post below). The third season of Heroes will certainly be completed but whether there will be a season 4 remains to be seen.
Prison Break: The show was a big hit when it began but ratings have been steadily declining ever since, with the current season 4 attracting only around 6million viewers, compared to season 1’s 12million-plus.
Latest news is that the cast have been asked to make themselves available for an extra two episodes on top of the original season 4 order of 22 – leading some to speculate that a two-hour special will bring the series to a conclusion sometime in 2009.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: An uneven but generally surprisingly decent attempt to transfer the Terminator universe to TV. The series picks up the plot from the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ignoring Terminator 3 completely, to tell the story of Sarah and John Connor’s continuing attempts to prevent the rise of the machines.
Despite exceptionally low ratings for the currently-airing season 2, US network Fox surprised many people by increasing the initial order of 13 episodes to a full season of 22. However, after the mid-season break, the show will move from Monday nights to Fridays – which is traditionally a ratings graveyard for US TV.
As such, most analysts reckon a third season looks highly unlikely.
Dollhouse: Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon‘s latest TV show hasn’t even started airing yet and it looks like it’s in trouble.
First of all, the pilot episode had to be reshot after Fox network chiefs decided they didn’t like Whedon’s original version. Then, they announced it will air on Friday nights, partnered with the struggling Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, suggesting that the show is being buried.
Whedon has been busy mounting a damage-limitation exercise in the Press and on the internet, though, and he does have a sizable devoted audience – but that wasn’t enough to save the late, lamented, and similarly shabbily-treated by the network, Firefly.
The show, incidentally, is about a group of “dolls”, operatives who have had their memories and personalities erased, so that they can be hired out by their bosses and specially programmed with skills and knowledge for special missions. Eliza Dushku, Buffy’s rogue vampire slayer Faith, takes the lead role as Echo, one of the dolls who starts to regain memories of her former life.