Shatner and $! join other series on the TV bubble

It’s that time of year again — TV producers are holding their breath, waiting to see which shows get picked up. For fans, too, it can be an anxious stretch. Will there be more episodes of a favourite program?

It’s that time of year again — TV producers are holding their breath, waiting to see which shows get picked up. For fans, too, it can be an anxious stretch. Will there be more episodes of a favourite program?

That’s very much in question when it comes to the fate of one of the most popular shows on Canadian television this season: $! My Dad Says.

The CBS sitcom, which stars Canadian TV icon William Shatner as a cranky, retired father coping with a grown son who’s moved back home, did much better in Canada than it did in the U.S.

That’s mainly because CTV ran it right after the most popular show in the country — The Big Bang Theory — where new episodes routinely drew well over two million viewers a week. In the U.S., it got no such lift, and thus languished on the CBS schedule.

The same was true of The Defenders, the Friday night Jim Belushi law drama. It clicked on CTV but only did so-so in the States. Prognosis: “on the bubble” for next season.

CTV had another winner Fridays with the CBS import Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck. Again, not such a hit in the States (especially among viewers under 50, the demographic more coveted by advertisers), although late word is that it is a good bet for renewal.

Shows that are “on the bubble” are 50/50 for renewal. It all depends on how many new shows networks pick up for the 2011-12 season.

The U.S. networks will officially announce their fall schedules May 16-19 in New York; Canadian “upfront” announcements will come at the very end of this month and the beginning of June.

Right now, decisions are being made based on the merits of the many pilots being screened. ABC, for example, has ordered a remake of Charlie’s Angels as well as a new comedy starring Tim Allen. Kiefer Sutherland may be back in the new drama Touch on Fox, where programmers are looking at potential spinoffs of both Bones and House.

Debra Messing could return in NBC’s Broadway-themed comedy Smash. A remake of Wonder Woman is also still in play at that network, as is a new pilot for 61-year-old Don Johnson, A Mann’s World. The former Miami Vice star would play a hairdresser.

The Secret Circle, a new witch drama, is being looked at at the CW. Minnie Driver has a P.I. show in development at CBS called Hail Mary.

That network is also looking at a young cop series called The Rookies which sounds a lot like the Global/ABC drama Rookie Blue.

As for Rookie Blue, it returns to Global for a second season next month after scoring impressive numbers in 2010. Summer seems to be the window for Canadian-produced shows no matter how well they perform, with Canadian programmers loath to give up schedule space loaded with pricey American fare it can simulcast during the season.

An announcement is expected any minute on summer runs for two CTV comedies renewed a full year ago: Dan for Mayor and Hiccups. At least that’s the word Hiccups star, writer and producer Brent Butt (Corner Gas) has been relaying for weeks on Twitter.

Executive producers of “bubble” shows have been using social media like never before to help maintain interest and communicate with fans as they lobby for renewals.

CBC has already announced the pick up of the new action series Arctic Air, likely to premiere next January. The series is from the same producers behind the popular History Television reality show Ice Pilots NWT.

The public broadcaster has also already announced it is picking up 17 series for next season, including 22 Minutes, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Being Erica, InSecurity and The Ron James Show. One comedy not coming back at CBC is 18 to Life.

Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.