Watch out, TV viewers: It’s cliffhanger season

By Kate MacDonald

It’s that time of year again, when television shows come to an end amidst ridiculous cliffhangers and possible character deaths, while their viewers wonder if the show will pick back up where it started next fall. The network lineups are usually released after the season finales, so when they roll around to close the 2009-2010 season, we are left to guess what shows will be back and which should be forgotten.

Some of the big shows, however, have already been renewed. Fans should expect to see the following shows, which should come as a surprise to no one.

“Brothers and Sisters,” despite major cast shifts, will see its fifth season on ABC, probably assuming its long-claimed Sunday night time slot. “Glee,” too, has obviously already been renewed. The show, one of the most popular currently on television, began the second half of its season earlier this month.

Other shows that have been saved include “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Gossip Girl” and “Two and a Half Men” (with or without Charlie Sheen). “Family Guy” and “Friday Night Lights” were a given as well.

According to TVGuide.com, many other popular shows have been placed into the “Looking Good” category, and can be assumed to be safe for the 2010-2011 season. Underrated shows “Parenthood” and “Private Practice” find themselves on this list, along with heavy hitters “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House” and each version of “CSI.”

It’s assumed that fans can stay tuned to “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” to see if Stabler and Benson’s obvious sexual tension ever actually amounts to anything. They can probably also wait around to see who will be the next “American Idol” replacement judge.

Even “One Tree Hill” might be alright. After two of its main characters left last season, many fans agree that this show should just be put out of its misery. Though Chad Michael Murray and Hilary Burton were not the best actors on this teen drama, the show peaked years ago before they left.

Then there are shows that are on the cusp. Even after analyzing ratings, buzz and general likeability, there are shows that could go either way – never seen again or live to entertain another day. Stars of “Heroes,” a former hit program, are among those waiting to see if they’ll be hitting the unemployment lines later on this year. At least they have good company. “Mercy,” NBC’s new drama, is in the same predicament, though it would truly be a shame if this show is not picked up.

TVGuide.com also counts “Melrose Place” to be in this category, but most other entertainment websites have written it off. The show certainly did not live up to its older counterpart, and viewers quickly found Katie Cassidy’s spitfire character Ella to be the only thing saving it.

Certain no-shows in the 2010-2011 lineup include the already cancelled ABC programs “Lost” and “Ugly Betty.” The network’s “Scrubs” is also thought to be cancelled. Star Zach Braff announced its demise on his Facebook page, though ABC has not officially corroborated his statement. “Sons of Tucson,” doomed from its futile pilot, is also thought to be over.

Is your favorite show on the edge or on its way out? Fret not viewers – shows have actually been saved by the perseverance of its loyal fans. When CBS’s “Jericho” was cancelled in 2007, fans sent executives 20 tons of peanuts (due to a line by a main character), and their show was given eight more episodes in 2008. The ill-fated WB’s “Roswell” was saved in 2000, while the CW’s “Reaper” found a reprise in 2008.

If not, surely one of the many new pilots that will be tried by the major networks will attract some viewers next season. Boston-based “Quinn-tuplets” will make its way to CBS, while Fox is rumored to be trying yet another police drama “Ride-Along” in the fall. The other networks will certainly try some new shows out as well, and some, at least, are sure to be promising.

If the 2010-2011 lineup doesn’t interest you, there’s always the Internet to help fans watch their favorite shows that have been sent to the TV cemetery in the sky. Reruns of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s “The Simple Life,” anyone?

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]