Ratings debate: Will ‘Rules of Engagement’ survive yet again?

Can we give it another chance?

If there ever is a comedy that has earned its “survivor” label, it’s “Rules of Engagement.” Despite being tossed around at midseason, handed all sorts of timeslots, and even buried at times after repeats, the CBS series with Patrick Warburton and David Spade has managed to stick around.

Can the show manage to stick around again for a season 7? That is the subject of our new ratings debate.

Why it should go – As much fun as we have had watching “Rules” over the years, someone at CBS may not feel the same. If they were willing to cast the show aside on Saturday nights (even if it never ended up actually airing them), you also have to wonder just how much the network has invested in the show.

There is also the issue here of ratings — while “Rules” is pulls the sort of numbers that any other network would be happy with, CBS is the land of titans. Unfortunately, its numbers six seasons in do put it on the low end of the spectrum, even with a pretty great lead-in “The Big Bang Theory.”

Why it should stay – When you are introducing new shows, it’s always nice for a network to have a safety net — and “Rules” is one of the best safety nets out there. While it doesn’t get many headlines, it’s a funny and inoffensive show that draws solid ratings no matter where you put it. The fans have stayed loyal, and this sort of loyalty goes a long way.

It makes some sense to give the series an addition 13 episodes for season 7, if for no other reason than that it gives CBS flexibility in case some of their new shows turn out to be flops. You also have to remember that there could be a major turnover next season as “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” could be completing their runs, and you can’t start over in the fall of 2013 with entirely new shows.

What will happen – Even if “Rules” does not make it to the fall of 2013, we would love to see the show actually get a final year for no other reason than that it would actually get a chance to finish its story. The likely cancellation of “Rob” only helps its chances.

Ultimately, though, we see the fate of “Rules” as a toss-up. If CBS follows some recent rumors and expands their Thursday night comedy block to two hours (likely bumping “Person of Interest” to 10:00 p.m. Eastern), we expect this show to stay around to provide some steady numbers.

However, keeping the comedy block at just one hour may cause the show to be canceled. We already know that CBS has never been faithful enough to give “Rules” a consistent timeslot, and five out of the six current comedy slots on the network are occupied with hit shows that are already renewed for another season. This means that there are really only two new comedies that the network could launch next (one in the fall and one in the spring) to try and establish a new audience after “Big Bang.” With this in mind, “Rules” would likely see its Cinderella story end.

Photo: CBS

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