Nets generous with renewals

Some scripted shows will get second chances despite low ratings

For broadcast series still hoping for a renewal, last week was rough sledding. CBS' "Shark" and ABC's "Women's Murder Club" returned to post about a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49, joining low-rated outings by fellow bubble shows "Moonlight" (CBS), "Boston Legal" (ABC) and "Reaper" (the CW).

But with most scripted series struggling from a writers strike ratings hangover, the nets seem inclined to give some of the lagging shows a second chance this fall.

Here's how things stand:

> "Men in Trees": Producers of ABC's drama were recently told the show will not return for a third season. Last year, the show scored a surprising early renewal but last month averaged only about a 1.6 demo rating.

> "Boston Legal": A recent episode of "Legal" hit a series low, but then again, what show hasn't? Given a strong lead-in, "Legal" tends to hold a reliable number. It's also an Emmy darling. A likely pickup.

> "Reaper": The word on the CW's cult-favorite supernatural dramedy has turned unexpectedly positive. Although recent episodes have pulled about a 1.1 rating, the CW needs a suitable Thursday night partner for "Supernatural" as next season is expected to be the last for "Smallville." Plus, after adding DVR use, "Reaper" ratings often climb a higher percentage than any other series, and CW executives are fond of the show.

> "Shark": Another network might be inclined to give this drama another chance, but CBS sets a high ratings bar for pickups and "Shark" has a tough time clearing it. Industry oddsmakers are pessimistic about a fall return.

> "The New Adventures of Old Christine": With CBS' Monday night comedy block continuing to perform strong while other returning shows crash, the network is considering opening up another night of comedy. If so, the net is going to need "Christine." As for "How I Met Your Mother," a pickup is considered a given.

> "Moonlight": Since returning post-strike, "Moonlight" remains the weakest link in CBS' Friday night lineup. Yet the vampire drama continues to win its time period. A pickup is all but certain.

> "Eli Stone" and "Women's Murder Club": The bubbliest of the bubble shows, "Stone" has split industry opinions. The season finale scored only a 2.0 rating. Yet ABC likes the show and the network has a history of giving a second chance to modestly rated freshman series ("Trees," "What About Brian"). If ABC picks up "Stone," a renewal for similarly rated "Murder Club" becomes less likely.

> "Cashmere Mafia" and "October Road": With uninspiring ratings and stars of both ABC shows poised to move to other projects, their returns appear unlikely. (partialdiff)
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