|It's looking like the final gavel may fall on "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" next week.|
NBC is poised to deliver a death sentence to the midseason series, the showbiz trade papers report. If so, it would be the first time a "Law & Order"-branded series has failed to earn a second season.
It's tough to understate how strange it is to see the words "Law & Order" and "failed" in the same sentence. Though the original cops-and-lawyers series has taken a ratings hit this season, it's the longest-running drama on TV and remains a top 25 show. Spinoffs "SVU" and "Criminal Intent" are finishing their sixth and fourth seasons, respectively.
"Trial by Jury," though, hasn't caught on with viewers the way the other shows have. After a solid start in early March -- including a special Thursday premiere that drew 17.3 million viewers -- the show has faded some in its 10 p.m. ET Friday spot. It averages 11.2 million viewers per week and has traded timeslot victories with CBS' crime drama "Numb3rs."
The show departs somewhat from its "L&O" predecessors by focusing on courtroom action more than the investigation of crime and by taking an omniscient viewpoint that allows viewers to see what goes on with defense lawyers, judges and juries as well as district attorneys. It stars Bebe Neuwirth and Amy Carlson as prosecutors and Kirk Acevedo and Scott Cohen as D.A.'s investigators. Fred Thompson, also a regular on the "Law & Order" mothership, plays the Manhattan district attorney.
Meanwhile, word in the trades continues to be that NBC is high on its drama pilots "E-Ring" and "Fathom," while "Inconceivable," a show set at a fertility clinic, has usurped "Book of Daniel" on the buzz meter. NBC unveils its 2005-06 schedule on Monday (May 16).