Predicting Doomed Television Shows

The Ted Marshall Open Television Death Pool, a contest to predict the shows most likely to be cancelled during the new fall TV season, is now underway. Eligible shows are first-run comedies, dramas, news and game shows on ABC, CBS, CW, FOX or NBC. Here's my picks, from most to least likely:

  • ER (NBC)
  • 90210 (CW)
  • Opportunity Knocks (ABC)
  • The Mentalist (CBS)
  • Life On Mars (ABC)
  • Privileged (CW)
  • Eli Stone (ABC)
  • Easy Money (CW)
  • My Own Worst Enemy (NBC)
  • The Ex List (CBS)

All the shows I picked are new except for ER, which NBC has announced is in its final season, and Eli Stone, a low-rated drama in its second season that barely survived cancellation. I did some number crunching with Java and Microsoft Excel on the death pool predictions to figure out the collective will of the 94 sad obsessives who entered the pool. Here's our top 10 doomed shows:

  • ER (NBC)
  • Gary Unmarried (CBS)
  • Crusoe (NBC)
  • Valentine Inc. (CW)
  • Kath and Kim (NBC)
  • Knight Rider (NBC)
  • The Ex List (CBS)
  • The Mentalist (CBS)
  • Do Not Disturb (FOX)
  • Opportunity Knocks (ABC)

Among shows that were around last season, the most anticipated for cancellation are ER, Boston Legal, Scrubs and According to Jim. If you share my interest in television sabremetrics, TV By the Numbers is a blog that's obsessed with crunching numbers associated with the TV industry. I got my Eli Stone pick by using that blog's Renew/Cancel Index, a formula they invented to predict which shows will be cancelled based on their ratings.

For scripted shows, the line was clear. Maintain an adults 18-49 viewership above of 92% of your network average and you're going to be renewed. Only 2 shows that did that (Bionic Woman, Big Shots) were cancelled.

Fail to exceed 92% of your network's average adults 18-49 average viewership and you're almost certainly cancelled. Only 6 shows below that line survived.

One number I haven't seen yet: The odds that entering a TV death pool will be more entertaining than watching the shows.


I don't understand why more people aren't watching Eli Stone. I think it's a pretty interesting show - I mean, the guy has a tumor for starters so we see how he lives with that, from this he gets hallucinations and it becomes humorous because of who he sees and the fact that George Michael songs coem into his head and direct his decisions. It makes me wonder why people don't find this interesting. Watch the ABC Starter Kit and let me know what you think - it's just a blip of Season 1, but I think it will get people interested:

Personally, I'm pretty excited for The Mentalist. I've loved the promos that I've seen, featuring Simon Baker. And, it could all make for a very entertaining few hours of television, along with Without a Trace (one of my other favs...) on right after it.

Television, with the advances in imagery, should be concentrating on serialization; weekly shows of 3 hours or more, 3 days of the week, with art and variety 2 days, weekends sports and specials.

Special effects, made for TV, movies like; "Jumpers", 10,000 BC, Starship troopers, and other psi, mystical and sci-fi, movies; could surely gain audiences if they became weekly "soaps". TV might regain the ground that live movie going has gained from them, and the advertisers, in the last couple of years.

However, perhaps the "union" attitude of the incestuous entertainment industry production and management elite won't try to compete with Hollywood in this area?

Maybe they think, "Wait! We could completely ruin the popcorn industry and inedible candy business if we make long-run movies for TV!?! The Big Guy, Hollywood itself, would prosper as we contract them to do our stuff ... but the "poor"!?! No, we can't be that selfishly successful!"

What do you think?

my favorite new shows are the mentalist and life on mars. i look for shows with interesting premises and it helps if the male star is good looking, sorry. i love aussies, so the mentalist was a shoo in. of course, the quality has to be there and it is with these two shows, in spades.

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