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Keep or cancel? It's your turn to vote

Friday, June 01, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

We'll count no hanging chads or dimpled ballots.

We'll allow no stuffing of the ballot box.

But the polls are open, and it's time to cast your vote for the prime-time network television shows that should stay. Or vote against series if you think it's time for them to go.

The Post-Gazette's annual Readers' Remote: Keep or Cancel? poll is now accepting votes online.

Before those of you without a computer feel discriminated against - you wouldn't believe the number of people I hear from who think it's their God-given right to participate in this survey - I have a deal for you. Cast a ballot using the computers at your local library or write me a letter - NO PHONE CALLS OR E-MAIL ACCEPTED - telling me what you want to vote to keep or cancel and I'll cast a proxy ballot on your behalf.

After last year's unfortunate run-in with overzealous fans of "The Pretender" and "Sports Night" who stuffed the ballot box, here's a disclaimer up front: Any show receiving fan devotion that pushes it to unrealistic heights in the survey - determined at my discretion - will be disqualified.

As usual, the computer will generate the results of the poll showing favorite shows by network and then by gender and age group. When you vote for a show, you have the option of clicking "keep," "cancel" or "don't care." In the past, the results pages just showed the votes for "keep" or "cancel." This year the summary and full results pages also will show "don't care" votes to establish levels of viewer apathy.

Readers' Remote gives you the chance to play network programmer, voting for or against any of the shows that aired in prime time on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN or The WB during the 2000-2001 television season.

Results of the poll (deadline for voting is April 30) will be published in the Post-Gazette early next month and will be sent to the entertainment presidents of each network prior to when they set their fall schedules in May. The network suits may not listen to what viewers have to say, but at least you'll have voiced your opinion.

Before the voting begins, let's look at shows that appear to be "on the bubble." That's TV-speak for "in danger of cancellation":

ABC

"Who Wants to be a Millionaire" won't go away completely, of course, but with ratings declining, it could be downsized to fewer editions each week.

Among sitcoms, "The Geena Davis Show" deserves cancellation and probably will get it. "Norm" hasn't had a decent time slot for a year, so it may face the ax, too.

Among dramas, "Gideon's Crossing" has suffered from low ratings since its premiere. It's on life support and recovery is not assured.

CBS

"Yes, Dear" is a lock to return, but "Bette" already sang her last. The two series in the most danger are "The Fugitive" and "That's Life."

"The Fugitive" is an expensive show to produce and is probably running for its life in vain. "That's Life" might eke out a reprieve, but it's not a sure thing.

Fox

After decent ratings in its first week, "The Lone Gunmen" found themselves lonely, lacking for viewers. It's another Chris Carter flop.

But the new sci-fi drama "Dark Angel" has drawn enough viewers to continue her genetically enhanced flight through prime time.

NBC

"Ed" has already been renewed, but "DAG" and "The Weber Show" have big question marks next to them. Chances of renewal for either sitcom look, well, cursed.

Bid farewell to the aliens of "3rd Rock from the Sun." Looks like they'll return to their home planet for good.

UPN

"Star Trek: Voyager" will sail into sci-fi history as it ends its seven-year voyage. The Claymation comedy "Gary & Mike" will be squashed, but UPN's Monday night comedies, including "The Hughleys" and "Girlfriends," likely will be back. The rest of UPN's new shows ("Freedom," "Level 9") are long gone.

What other shows return will likely depend on the performance of mid-season series premiering this month, including "Special Unit 2," which kicks off its run Wednesday at 8 p.m.

The WB

"Popular" no longer lives up to its title and will be dropped. "Jack & Jill" will likely tumble off the schedule.

"PopStars," with or without this year's prefab group Eden's Crush, will return in some form.

"Gilmore Girls" continues to grow in the ratings and is a lock to return.

"Roswell" remains a question mark. Though the show did better in its Monday time slot than anything that preceded it, it still lost much of its "7th Heaven" lead-in audience.

You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

Readers' Remote: Keep or Cancel?

Click here to vote for or against the renewal of network TV shows.

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