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Pleading the case for viewer support

Sunday, December 23, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

So far this season, canceled shows include "Danny," "Wolf Lake," "Bob Patterson," "Elimidate Deluxe" and "Men, Women and Dogs." I can't argue about the dismissal of any of those.

But other more deserving series continue to struggle and need support from viewers if they're to last the entire season.

Last year in this space, I begged networks to spare the likes of "Gilmore Girls," "Ed," "Grosse Pointe" and "Welcome to New York." The first two survived, the second two did not, but in fairness, their respective networks tried hard to make them work.

This year, "Gilmore Girls" is an unqualified hit for The WB, though "Ed" is not so fortunate.

Read on for a list of mostly new endangered shows that are worth watching:




Yep, that's the sound of crickets. If I knew the sound a black hole makes, I would have typed that, because there's not much worth saving on the alphabet network.

"Alias" seems to have developed a following among some viewers, but I'm not among them. "Philly" has improved, and I'd like to see it get more time to prove its case. Any other new shows worth keeping?




It's the most amazing "reality" show millions aren't watching, but CBS's "The Amazing Race" proved itself worthy of inheriting the buzz "Survivor" once had. Too bad this "Race" got delayed by the terrorist attacks and then had to air opposite "The West Wing." CBS has already renewed "Amazing Race" for another season. I hope they'll put it on in the summer when there are fewer choices and more viewers are likely to find it.

Though its ratings have declined since the return of "NYPD Blue" and the premiere of "24," "The Guardian" remains a solid hit for CBS. That's not the case with the Richard Dreyfuss drama "The Education of Max Bickford," which continues to bleed audience on Sunday nights.

"The Ellen Show" is light, but fun fluff. DeGeneres deserves a hit comedy, especially one that concentrates on being funny rather than preaching tolerance, but not many viewers have tuned in to watch the new "Ellen" in its Friday night time slot.

CBS seems pleased with the performance of sophomore drama "That's Life" on Friday night. So what are they doing next month? Moving it back to low-rated Saturday night, of course.


There aren't enough hours in a single night of prime time to see all the quality series that are now on the networks, but I wish more people would set aside an hour each week for "24."

Keifer Sutherland stars in "24" as a counter terrorism expert trying to protect a presidential candidate (Dennis Haysbert) from an assassination attempt. It's an excellent real-time thriller told in serialized form. I can't think of another show that's had me on the edge of my seat the way "24" does on a weekly basis.

"24" is at least safe through the end of the season. Fox has ordered 24 episodes, so we should see how the whole thing plays out. That's not the case with "The Tick," a show I expected would garner low ratings once Fox stuck it in an ultra-competitive Thursday night time slot. It reminds me of another too-smart-for-the-room series, "Police Squad." Maybe "The Tick" will ultimately emerge as a film series or maybe that's wishful thinking and the show will just disappear into the ether.

That could be the fate of loopy soap "Pasadena," too. Fox promises it will return in a new time slot in the new year, but its commitment to this outrageous series seems tepid at best.

On the other hand, the drawer should be slammed shut on "The X-Files" for good.


The presence of "Scrubs" on this list can only be blamed on viewers who tune in for tired, old "Frasier" and tune out before freshly scrubbed "Scrubs" comes on. What are you people thinking?

This funny, endearing hospital ha-ha is NBC's freshest comedy series in years and deserves to be seen by more people.

"Ed" made this list last year before landing a better time slot on Wednesday, which seemed to work for a while. But once again "Ed" finds itself in danger. NBC tested the show Monday at 10 earlier this month and the results weren't encouraging.

If NBC is tiring of this genial, genre-bending comedy-drama, producers better darn well get star-crossed Carol and Ed together before the show's premature demise.


"Buffy" is in good shape, making "Roswell" the only show in danger of cancellation, other than "Special Unit 2," which is just bad and gets no sympathy here.

But frankly, I've grown tired of "Roswell." With so many other better programs airing at the same time Tuesday night, it's no longer appointment viewing.

The WB

"Angel" has never been the ratings workhorse of the series it spun off from, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but the show is doing better in the post-"7th Heaven" time slot than just about anything else The WB has put there. Although it loses a big chunk of its lead-in, it seems unlikely "Angel" will join "Buffy" on UPN next season.

Friday night comedy "Maybe It's Me" deserves to get more eyeballs. The funny, laugh track-free show benefits greatly from the presence of Fred Willard and Julia Sweeney as parents of an angst-filled teen girl.

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

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