Effective immediately, CBS has removed the star-studded, critically admired, presumably expensive drama "Smith" from its Tuesday night schedule, making it the season's first true casualty.
In other damning news, NBC has sent its similarly star-studded, critically admired, presumably expensive serial "Kidnapped" off to the programming wasteland of Saturday night, the final step before that show exits the air.
Over the next three weeks, CBS will replace "Smith" with repeats of "CSI" and "Criminal Minds," before figuring out a new strategy at the end of October. Although its star-studded cast included Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen and Amy Smart, "Smith" never found traction against competition that included "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Boston Legal." In its most recent airing, the third for the John Well-produced cops-n-robbers drama, "Smith" drew only 8.4 million viewers.
It's possible that CBS may opt to burn off unseen episodes of "Smith" on a future date, but the network has given no indication of when that might be.
"Smith" could, incidentally, lose its first-to-be-pulled status if FOX opts not to bring "Happy Hour" back. The low-rated comedy went on baseball-hiatus one week early, but in a November schedule announced by the network on Thursday, "Happy Hour" still appears to have a home.
Meanwhile, in a shift that can only be described as playing out the string, NBC will ship new episodes of "Kidnapped" off to 9 p.m. on Saturday, moving "Dateline" into the Wednesday 10 p.m. slot where "Kidnapped" has tanked this season.
Earlier this week it was revealed that NBC will kill "Kidnapped" off after only 13 episodes, giving the show a chance to complete its central mystery. Through its first two airings, "Kidnapped" averaged roughly 7 million viewers, an audience that dropped lower this week.
Before the season began, more than a few critics wondered if too many of the new network shows were highly serialized dramas that might require too much of a commitment for viewers, viewers already burnt by the truncated ends to shows like "Reunion" and "Invasion."
The answer appears to be a qualified yes. With "Smith" in limbo, "Kidnapped" shipped to Saturday, "Vanished" moved to Friday and shows like "Studio 60," "Runaway," "Friday Night Lights" and "Six Degrees" struggling, there will be some high-priced casualties. On the other hand, the future looks brighter for shows like "Heroes" and "Jericho," with the jury still out on "The Nine" and others.