In the next month, TV networks will decide the fate of their low-rated, "on the bubble" series, an annual rite of passage that results in a reprieve for some programs and the end for others.
At ABC, the future of comedy "Trophy Wife" hangs in the balance. On CBS, it's "The Mentalist" that may not get the chance to solve another crime. For Fox, the question is whether to bring back "Almost Human." NBC has to decide -- yet again! -- the fate of the sitcom "Community."
Television series renewals and cancellations are more difficult to predict than they were a decade ago. Networks used to wait until May to renew the majority of their prime-time schedules; CBS renewed almost its entire lineup in March.
As the threshold for success gets lower, networks now renew series that would have been quickly canceled just a few years ago. Business concerns also play a role; networks cut deals with program producers that involve lower license fees -- the amount a network pays for the right to air a series -- and some programs can survive on lower ratings than other programs that get canceled on the same network.
Viewers can again wade into this murky mess 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 chance to play judge, jury and executioner (aka TV programmer). Cast your ballot 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.
Votes will be tallied through next Sunday, 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 network executives announce their new fall schedules.
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 though we know the shows won't be back.