PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- The television network upfront presentations are upon us and it already looks like a bloodbath out there.
In the weeks leading up to the announcement of new lineups and the programming of your primetime activity for much of 2014 and 2015, a whole lot of dead weight was heaved off of the broadcast schedule. Fox did not want to see how much it had to invest in prime-time dramas and dramedies before seeing a return and nixed Almost Human, Surviving Jack, Raising Hope, Rake and Enlisted. Talent shows and multi-camera, lowest-common-denominator sitcoms didn't fare all that well either, with both X Factor and Dads getting the ax. CBS, meanwhile, signaled the end of its highly rated sitcom mainstay Two and a Half Men -- which lost one and a half of its original men some time ago.
The CW finally ended the Sex and The City era by stomping on the tiny Magnolia cupcake that was The Carrie Diaries, but gave post-Twilight vampire culture a boost by picking up The Vampire Diaries again. Meanwhile, mainstays such as CBS' Criminal Minds and The Mentalist, Fox's American Idol and ABC's Nashville had to sweat it out amid falling ratings and tight network budgets as their overlords made their final decisions.
There are some shows on network slates that seem immune to ratings shortfalls, fickle viewing habits, advancing technology and the passage of time, though. No matter how low their fortunes fall and how far out of the cultural zeitgeist they drift, it always seems certain that they'll be back for another season or so.No, we're not talking about CBS alphabet-soup procedural NCIS. Into its 11th season (12th if you count the episodes of JAG that kicked it off in 2003, NCIS is still drawing 15 million to 20 million viewers a night. It's a cornerstone of not only the CBS lineup, but of network programming in general. It's already been renewed for a 12th season and shows no signs of slowing down. We're talking about shows that have faded into faint shadows of their former selves. Shows that were once the center of pop culture, but hung around so long after their supernova that all anyone remembers is the black holes they've become. They're the shows you find yourself routinely asking if people are still watching, only to have infinite annual renewals assure you that's the case.