Television series renewals and cancellations are less predictable than they were a decade ago. Networks used to wait until May to renew the majority of their prime-time schedules; CBS did just that earlier this month.
And as the threshold for success gets lower year by year, networks end up renewing series that would have been quickly canceled just a few years ago. Business concerns also play a larger role. As networks cut deals with program producers that involve lower license fees -- the amount a network pays for the right to air a series -- some shows can get lower ratings than other programs that get canceled on the same network and still get renewed. (This model is what got "Hannibal" a second season on NBC.)
Viewers can again wade into this murky business by voting in the Post-Gazette's annual Keep or Cancel poll. It offers viewers the opportunity to weigh in on which prime-time series they would like to keep and those they would cancel. It's an opportunity to play judge, jury and executioner (aka TV programmer). Cast your ballot with the online version of this story at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/poll/default.asp.
One vote per computer will be accepted. Series receiving an inordinate, unbelievable number of votes will be disqualified. If you don't own a computer or more than one person in your household wants to vote, send me a letter -- no phone calls or email votes accepted -- with your choice of shows to keep/cancel, your age, gender and ZIP code. (The Post-Gazette's mailing address is 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.)
Votes will be tallied through April 20, and the results will be published in a Friday Tuned In column in late April or early May. We'll send the results to each broadcast network president before the week of May 11 when the networks announce their new fall schedules.
For viewers who want to beseech a TV network on behalf of a specific series, we've included network addresses below that are always available online at http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/tv-radio/ under "TV/Radio Resources" on the lower right side of the page (scroll down to find the link).
New to the poll this year: Cable network IFC, home to "Portlandia" and "Maron."
Already canceled shows that aired during the 2013-14 TV season are included on our ballot. So voters can voice their opinions on these programs, even if we know they won't be back.
Some programs that have yet to premiere but are scheduled to debut during the polling period also are included. Some viewers might consider waiting to vote until closer to the deadline if there are particular upcoming series that they would like to check out before voting.
Here's where some on-the-bubble shows stand as of mid-March:
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Failure abounds at the alphabet network, which is actually in worse shape than NBC this year. Freshman drama "Resurrection" got off to a strong start in the ratings two weeks ago, and those ratings held up for Sunday's second episode.
Among other freshman series, "The Goldbergs" seems likely to return, but "Trophy Wife" is a long shot. Predictably, the young-skewing "Mixology" can't hold onto its "Modern Family" lead-in. So expect it to be canceled. "Mind Games" also will join the already dead "Killer Women" on ABC's growing pile of failures.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." likely will get a second chance despite eroding ratings during its first season.
"The Neighbors" and "Super Fun Night" seem unlikely to be back.
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With the announcement earlier this month that it renewed more than 18 shows, CBS leaves little suspense about its fall schedule. So it's easier to look at what didn't get renewed. Among long-running shows, the odd man out was "The Mentalist," which solved its central Red John mystery and seems to be trying to chart a new course but likely will end its run in May.
Question marks also surround freshman shows "The Crazy Ones" and "Intelligence," which have not yet been renewed.
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Not much suspense at Fox either. The network already gave early orders for the 2014-15 TV season to "Sleepy Hollow," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "The Mindy Project," "New Girl" and "The Following."
With the move to Friday night, "Rake" seems doomed. And there's little hope for "Enlisted" and "Almost Human" to get renewed.
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"Crisis" got off to a soft ratings start Sunday, and ratings for week two of "Believe" declined. It's too soon to say what the fate will be for reality competition "American Dream Builders," debuting at 8 p.m. Sunday. Nate Berkus hosts the show that features designers and home builders renovating houses.
"Revolution" appears to be a long shot for renewal, as does "Dracula." And sitcom "Community" continues its perpetual on-the-bubble existence.
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Like CBS, its sister network, The CW already renewed much of its lineup, including "Arrow," "The Originals," "Reign," "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries."
"The Carrie Diaries," a prequel to "Sex and the City," seems unlikely to return. Same goes for "Beauty and the Beast," "Hart of Dixie" and "The Tomorrow People."
Question marks surround A&E's Pittsburgh-filmed "Those Who Kill," which will get another chance at some point, although A&E has not revealed its relaunch plans.
No such luck for AMC's one-season-and-done "Low Winter Sun." It's included in the Keep or Cancel poll along with some other shows that won't be back so that viewers have the opportunity to voice their opinion for or against a program that aired since our last poll in early 2013.
Similarly Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva" is included even as it begins its final season at 9 p.m. Sunday. Unlike the first time it was canceled before its fifth season, executive producer Josh Berman got word before season six that the show would end, allowing the writers to craft a conclusion to the story.
Programming shift at Starz
Premium cable network Starz brings back "Da Vinci's Demons" for its second season at 9 p.m. Saturday.
In season one, "Demons" and previous Starz series had aired on Friday night, but beginning with "The White Queen" last August (and continuing with "Black Sails" in January), Starz made the move to Saturday. That mirrors AMC's decision to program "Hell on Wheels" on Saturday, a night virtually ignored by programmers for the past two decades.
In January after panels at the TV critics winter press tour, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said he brought in the same programming executive who was the architect of HBO's hugely successful Sunday night original series strategy to help at Starz.
"He said, 'We're missing the boat here,' so we put our big movie on Friday and used it to give a promotional platform for Saturday," Mr. Albrecht said.
Of course, nights of the week matter a lot less now because shows repeat throughout the week, get DVRed and show up on demand.
"One of the big challenges for us isn't making good shows -- that's the challenge for everybody -- the big challenge for us is cutting through the noise," Mr. Albrecht said. "We have all this on-air time, and we have to bring an audience to [our original series], and on-air spots seemed like a really good way to launch [these shows on Saturday]."
Nick at Nite canceled Scott Baio's sitcom "See Dad Run" after its upcoming third season, according to Deadline.com. ... The upcoming season of "Our America With Lisa Ling" (10 p.m. May 29) will be the show's last. ... "The Late Late Show" host Craig Ferguson and "The Price Is Right" host Drew Carey will swap hosting duties on Tuesday (aka April Fool's Day). ... TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" and "The Soul Man" air live episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Wednesday night "The 100" got off to a strong start (for a CW series anyway), drawing 2.7 million viewers, the best ratings for the time period on The CW since 2010. ... This week NBC renewed dramas "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D." and "Grimm" for the 2014-15 TV season. ... Reruns of AMC's "The Walking Dead" will air on MyNetworkTV -- WPMY, Channel 22 in Pittsburgh -- beginning this fall.
Tuned In online
Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Those Who Kill," "Family Feud" and "Farm Kings." And Voice Mail of the Week returns! This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "The 100," "Salem," "Doll & Em" and "Game of Thrones." Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.
Tuned In podcast has the week off.
TV writer Rob Owen: email@example.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.