On TV, a sense of renewal

'Dexter,' 'Private Practice' come back for more

Showtime has renewed its top-rated drama series "Dexter" for two more seasons.

The premium cable network has ordered 12 episodes each for Seasons 4 and 5, with the fourth season set to enter production in the spring in Los Angeles.

Season 3 premiered Sept. 28 and is averaging 2.5 million weekly viewers combined across all airings, up 16% over the same period last season. When DVR and on-demand numbers are factored in, Showtime expects that number to exceed 3 million weekly viewers.

Also Tuesday, ABC picked up "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Private Practice" for a full season. The ABC Studios-produced "Practice" is ABC's tentpole show on Wednesday nights, the ringleader of a trio of sophomore series interrupted by the writers strike (along with "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money").

All have returned down significantly this year, but "Practice" has been the highest rated. Season to date, the show averages 8.3 million viewers and a 3.2/8 in 18-49 and typically grows about 45% from its lead-in.

The moves are the latest in a flurry of pickups this week. CBS ordered two more scripts for the freshman comedy "Worst Week," NBC picked up "Knight Rider" for a full season, the CW ordered a couple of scripts for "Privileged" and Fox ordered a full season of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

"Rider," "Practice" and "Terminator" are not shows that network observers consider hits. Their recent sub-2.5 adult demo ratings could be setting new standards for numbers considered acceptable for major network drama series pickups. (partialdiff)
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