Scott D. Pierce: CBS' 'Cold Case' may be closing up shop for good

Published: Friday, April 30 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Danny Pino and Kathryn Morris in what might be the last "Cold Case."

Sonja Flemming, CBS

Enlarge photo»

CBS is airing back-to-back episodes of "Cold Case" on Sunday — and they may well be the final two episodes of the show, period.

It's not that the show has shown a big decline in quality of late. It remains what it always has been — a pretty good crime drama.

It's not that the ratings are that bad. They're down this season, but the show's numbers are still better than those of a lot of shows that will be back in the fall.

This is more about money than anything else. As are most decisions when it comes to network television.

"Cold Case" is an expensive show to produce. That comes with the territory — not only is it a glossy crime drama, but it's been on the air for seven seasons.

And the longer a show is on the air, the more expensive it is to produce. The way these things work is that, generally, everybody gets a raise every year. So Season 7 costs more than Season 1. And Season 8 would cost still more.

"Cold Case" managed to survive a near-cancellation a year ago. It came down to either "Cold Case" or "Without a Trace" — and "Without a Trace" got the ax.

And that show, you may recall, was a pretty good crime drama with pretty good ratings. But "Without a Trace" was wrapping up its seventh season and was expensive to produce.

Which is exactly the situation "Cold Case" finds itself in right now.

But … it hasn't been canceled yet. And there are other factors that are entirely out of the control of the show or its fans.

What it will come down to is what new shows CBS has ready for the fall. If, in the judgment of network programmers, they've got new series that could at least equal — if not better — what "Cold Case" does in the ratings, it's curtains for the veteran show.

If not, well, it could hang on for another year.

Networks are also more aware of keeping their schedules "fresh" these days. On more than one occasion, a first-place network has become a last-place network because it hung on to a lot of shows that were still doing well but were past their prime. It's proved almost impossible for any network to successfully make a whole lot of changes all at once.

Of course, it's also going to come down to the bottom line — the budget.

If "Cold Case" does sign off, it's not exactly a tragedy. And that's not a slam against the show.

But seven seasons and 156 episodes is a very successful run for any show.

ON THE BUBBLE: As is the case every year at this time, there are a bunch of TV shows that are "on the bubble."

They haven't been canceled. They haven't been renewed. They're in limbo.

Some of them will be right up until the networks announce their fall schedules the week of May 17.

Here are some of the bubble shows, along with semi-educated guesses about their futures:

 "Accidentally on Purpose" (CBS): Probably canceled

 "Chuck" (NBC): Probably renewed

 "The Deep End" (ABC): Canceled

 "FlashForward" (ABC): Probably canceled

 "The Forgotten" (ABC): Canceled

 "Gary Unmarried" (CBS): 50/50

 "Heroes" (NBC): Canceled. Although there is some talk of a short order — somewhere between four and 10 episodes — to wrap things up (and sell more DVDs).

 "Human Target" (Fox): 50/50

 "Life Unexpected" (CW): Canceled

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