Now that we know Terra Nova is extinct at Fox, it's time to start pondering what effect its demise might have on another Monday night genre drama in a precarious position: Alcatraz. Could the end of Terra Nova mean another year on the Rock?
As you might have guessed, the answer is still rather hard to pin down. To get a clear picture of just where Alcatraz stands, we have to look at several other factors beyond the end of Terra Nova. For one thing, it's worth remembering that another Fox Monday night drama, House, is ending its run this season, leaving another open hour at the start of the week. For another, Fox is also juggling the fates of two other new dramas: The Finder and Touch.
The Finder isn't doing so hot, and some pundits have it pegged for cancellation already. As for Touch, it did very well in its preview back in January, but the real test lies ahead when it returns next week. And then, over on Friday night, there's Fringe, another show that seems to have a bleak future.
So, if you're keeping score, that means Alcatraz, The Finder and Fringe are all in trouble, Touch has an uncertain future, and House is no longer there to fill one of Fox's Monday timeslots. But how many shows can they really cancel? If The Finder and Alcatraz were to go the route of Terra Nova, that would leave Touch as the last rookie drama standing. How much time can Fox afford to leave open for next season?
Well, according to Bill Gorman over at TV by the Numbers, the situation is not so dire that Fox would keep an underperforming show on the air just to fill time. Cleaning house on all their new shows is probably not a happy prospect, but they've done it before.
"Leaving aside the fact that Touch had nice preview ratings, and its future is yet to be determined, the 'can't cancel them all' grasp is futile," Gorman said. "Ask the fans of the two Fox rookie dramas last season (Lone Star, The Chicago Code)."
So we've established that sending all of these shows packing is very much a possibility. The question now is will it happen, particularly where Alcatraz is concerned? It's now the last show standing on Monday night, and its recent numbers have been lower than Terra Nova's ever were. Granted, the dinosaur program was a more expensive show, but how low can Alcatraz afford to sink, especially with the season finale only three weeks away? Can this show survive?
Expert opinion is divided. Tim Surette of TV.com thinks the show is doomed already.
"If you ask me," he writes, "Touch returns next year, while Alcatraz keeps Terra Nova company in the trash pile."
But not so fast, because CB Droege at TG Daily is unconvinced.
"Yes, this is indeed bad news for dinosaur enthusiasts, but may very well be good tidings for fans of Fringe and Alcatraz, as this leaves room for the network to keep both shows, despite each of them slipping in ratings for the last few episodes," Droege said. "Unless Fox picks up another genre series in the interim, they are both relatively safe."
TV by the Numbers' Robert Seidman, meanwhile, still has Alcatraz pegged for "likely cancellation," along with The Finder and Fringe.
So, with Terra Nova out (at least on this network), can Alcatraz escape to season two?