Most of network TV’s fall schedules have been finalized, and wow, it was an ugly year. Budgets were slashed! Shows were tossed from network to network like little actor-filled hacky sacks! Fan favorites went down for the count! (Weirdly, according to Ausiello’s cheat sheet, a shocking number of bad shows keep merrily trucking. Ghost Whisperer? Are you serious?)
A quick rundown of some sci-fi favorites we’ll see next year, and some we’ll never see again. Good night, sweet princes.
Chuck: RENEWED, through the power of Subway sandwiches (hey, ours is not to question why, ours is just to buy an Italian meatball sub for five bucks). It’s a conditional return (lower budget, thirteen episodes, and undisclosed terms possibly tied in to frozen-food purchases), but the renewal buys time for the show to build an audience next season, and it’s good to see a network give fans the chance to prove how much they want a show back—and listen. In a word: awesome.
Dollhouse: RENEWED. Renewed instead of Sarah Connor Chronicles, basically because Fox thinks Joss Whedon fans are so annoying they’d rather renew it just to shut them up. Sorry, fans of mythic storytelling and strong women characters: Eliza Dushku in skimpy costumes wins every time.
Eleventh Hour: CANCELLED. I am absolutely shocked about the death of this actor-driven show about science that didn’t have either actors or science. May your heads be cryogenically frozen in a tube of mouthwash, guys. (Sorry, Rufus. You deserve better. I hope you find it.)
Fringe: RENEWED. Nothing like a J.J. Abrams cliffhanger reveal to get people revved for a second season! Abrams hopes to “freak people out” for another season. Let’s hope he can maintain the narrative; he has a bad habit of sophomore slump, and he’s going to be a little distracted with that little space movie he’s making.
Heroes: RENEWED. Not a surprise, though I would have hoped by now that people would have realized how downhill the show has gone. Well, good luck picking your storyline apart some more next year, guys!
Kings: CANCELLED…after the third episode. Yikes. I think it deserves better, obviously, but it’s going to be a rough pitch to other networks: “Hey, would YOU like an expensive and Biblically-themed show that performed poorly?”
Lost: RENEWED. Oh come on, was this even a question? If they cancelled this show, the ERs of the world would overflow with heart attacks.
Pushing Daisies: CANCELLED. The bad news came a while ago, but that doesn’t ease the sting. This whimsical story about a pie shop, a man who can raise the dead, his resurrected love, and all the Saran-Wrap kisses that come between them has been shut down, joining the long line of whimsical shows that Fox cuts short to prove that it can.
Smallville: RENEWED. Everyone enjoy Clark’s 40th birthday episode!
Supernatural: RENEWED. Jared Padalecki thanks fans, hops on his personal biplane, flies to his private island for some R&R over the hiatus.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: CANCELLED. Biggest mistake of the season. This gripping, gritty drama went beyond its premise every week, bringing us deeper into the most complicated dysfunctional family ever to hit the small screen. The entire property is apparently pining for the fjords, so don’t expect another network to pick it up (SYFY, HELLO?). Fanficcers, start your engines and give us some of the good stuff.
Now we play a waiting game, our minds growing fallow, summer reruns making us complacent. Check back soon for sneak peeks at next season’s sci-fi, from shows that will go the distance to shows that I will recap and so will doom to cancellation after less than six episodes.