Good cast ... Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) with is best friend Ben (John Ortiz).

Rake in the US ... Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) with is best friend Ben (John Ortiz).

The US remake of the Australian drama Rake is facing the fight of its life: to lift its audience in the next few weeks or almost certainly be cancelled.

In a damaging move to the show's seven week momentum, the US network Fox last week shifted the series from its Thursday night timeslot to a Friday night timeslot.

It will be replaced in its Thursday night slot with an American Idol results show.

The series, which is based on the Australian series of the same name, stars Greg Kinnear as a maverick lawyer. The same character, in the Australian series, is played by Richard Roxburgh.

The US Rake launched in January to an audience of just under 7 million viewers in the US. Since then it has slipped to around 3.45 million viewers.

Compounding the pressure is the fact that Fox network, in an unusual move, has given early renewals to three comedies - Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project and New Girl - and one drama, The Following.

Those four shows, says Fox's entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, are "core assets within our 2014-2015 portfolio of content and we're really happy to bring them back ... for another season".

"These shows are some of the best and acclaimed series on television, with influential, culture-driving stars, and some of the best, most creative talent behind the camera," Reilly said.

Fox had earlier confirmed the return of Sleepy Hollow, the procedural drama Bones and a sixth and final season of Glee.

Such renewals are due closer to May, when the US season wraps before the northern summer ratings break.

Announcing them early has heightened focus on those left behind - the four shows on Fox's schedule which are now conspicuously awaiting renewals: Seth MacFarlane's comedy Dads, the army comedy Enlisted, the sitcom Raising Hope, and Rake.

The US ratings analysis website TV By The Numbers listed Rake, Enlisted and Raising Hope as "certain to be cancelled" based on their current ratings performance.

Only Seth MacFarlane's comedy Dads, which had already been trimmed in length, was ranked one peg lower: "De facto cancelled."

Rake launched to 6.95 million viewers, but in the subsequent six weeks slipped to 5.24 million, 4.27 million, 4.04 million, 3.97 million, 3.45 million and 3.53 million.

Coverage of the winter Olympic games in Sochi on rival network NBC was a particular souce of damage during February.

The eighth episode is due to air on March 14.

Meanwhile, one of Rake's stars - Australian actress Bojana Novakovic - has been offered the lead role in a new series, Agatha, about a prisoner who becomes a criminologist.

The casting is a "second position" offer, which means it is Novakovic's if she wants it, but it takes second place behind her existing contract with Rake.

If Rake was cancelled, for example, she would be free to take the lead in Agatha.