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Your favorite shows are in danger

Caitlin Ferraro | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As a television fanatic, springtime is bittersweet for me. It means sweeps month, which is when shows pull out all the stops to get fans to watch. But it also means that networks begin to make decisions about shows that are performing badly. And that means shows that are beloved by faithful fans, are often sent to the chopping block.In the past, shows like “Firefly,” “Arrested Development” and “Freaks and Geeks” were cut down in their prime. It seems that every year at least one great television show is axed before it has been given a true chance. This season’s fallen comrades already include “Eli Stone,” “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Pushing Daisies.” And now the grim reaper is looming again for other favorites.It seems like ratings are everything for most networks, but each one has different standards. For instance, CBS would implode if its shows received the numbers a network like The CW gets. Ratings differ from network to network, but some shows are also held to higher standards based on – you guessed it – money. If a show is too expensive to make and it’s not receiving overwhelming ratings, it might be headed to the television heaven in the sky.I implore you to pay attention if you want to save a favorite show that might be in danger this season. First up to bat is “Chuck,” the action-comedy of a lovable nerd who has become the CIA’s latest asset. Even with huge promos for the 3-D episode during the Super Bowl, “Chuck” just cannot find a faithful following. It seems like NBC likes the show, so I am desperately hoping they can save it somehow. Possibly with a DirecTV deal like they did for “Friday Night Lights?”Science fiction shows are also approaching the guillotine. Will “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” be given the chance to ride on the coattails of the likely summer blockbuster film “Terminator Salvation?” Surely the film, starring Christian Bale, will reboot interest in the Terminator universe. If Batman can’t save this show, no one can.While Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” did get off to a slow start, shocking revelations in episode six have boosted the show creatively. Here’s to hoping that FOX will not end “Dollhouse” and leave viewers hanging with untied mysteries after airing the episodes that have already been filmed. The worst situation is when networks cancel a show without allowing enough time for writers to create some sort of resolution. (Although, in the case of the recently deceased “Life on Mars,” it may have been better without the bizarre and lame twist ending that Sam is not from 1973 or 2008 but is actually an astronaut traveling to Mars in 2035. Huh?)Another new show in trouble is NBC’s “Kings,” which takes place in an alternate world where a David versus Goliath-like battle is occurring. “Kings” is an innovative show that combines religion and politics in a unique way. But low viewership combined with huge expenses to create this fantastical world may send the show to the grave before it ever really had a chance.Other shows that are in danger include The CW’s “Reaper,” CBS’ “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace,” ABC’s “In the Motherhood,” and NBC’s “My Name is Earl.”So what can you and I do to help save a show you care about? Honestly, not much. You can hope and pray and you should definitely watch the show itself. While this might seem obvious, it’s harder than you think when primetime television hours are also primetime hours for homework. So if you can’t watch when the show airs live, use a DVR or watch the show on the actual network’s Web site. The next step takes a bit more effort, but is necessary if you are a die-hard fan. If you care passionately about a show in danger, then to make your voice heard you must go above and beyond. When CBS’ “Jericho” was canceled after just one season, fans went wild. They sent thousands of pounds of peanuts (an inside joke from the show) to the network and, shockingly, they got another season. If this is too dramatic for you, you can also sign online petitions and send letters to the network to try to save a show.As the end of the 2008-09 television season approaches fast, enjoy the great episodes to come. I, for one, cannot wait to see what’s in store for the island in “Lost,” or to see the “Grey’s Anatomy” cast’s performances as they try to save dying Izzie. But remember: as you watch the season finale of your favorite show, you might actually be watching its series finale.