CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- CBS has rolled back its commitment to its freshman drama "The Handler," opting to produce just 15 episodes of the series this season. The Eye had previously ordered a full season of 22 episodes of the series (read the story).
The cutback is undoubtedly due to the show's downward spiral in the ratings as of late. After opening to 12.6 million viewers in September, "The Handler" averaged just 7.9 million viewers during the November sweeps period, coming in behind NBC's "Third Watch" (9.9 million) and ABC's "20/20" (10.6 million) in the Friday, 10:00/9:00c hour. Nevertheless, "The Handler" was up in year-to-year comparisons, beating "Robbery Homicide Division" across the same period (6.7 million) however "The Handler's" lead-in retention rate (60.77%) was well behind that of "R.H.D.'s" (69.07%).
The news leaves just four episodes of Viacom Productions-produced series left to air, including tonight's episode. CBS reps insist the show hasn't been canceled however industry insiders say cancellation is just a formality at this point. It's expected that the Eye's midseason drama "Century City" will inherit the show's Friday, 10:00/9:00c slot beginning in March.