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Keep or cancel? Spring is the time to voice your opinion

Sunday, March 31, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Ah, spring, a time of rebirth, a time of new beginnings - unless you're a network television show that's "on the bubble."

That's TV talk for series that are on the fence. These shows may get renewed, they may not. Network programmers will make that call in May. Now is the time for you to voice your opinion in our annual poll, Readers' Remote: Keep or Cancel?

Readers' Remote:
Keep or Cancel?

Vote for or against the renewal of network TV shows online at www.post-gazette.com/tv

We'll send the results to each broadcast network president, and though they may not pay much attention to what viewers have to say - it's all about ratings and pleasing those youth-crazed advertisers - voting may make you feel better. At least you can voice your opinion and see the results published in my Thursday column the first week of May. In addition, if you want to write a note of concern about a favorite show to a network, addresses are on page [insert page number].

To cast your ballot, visit the Post-Gazette's Web site at www.post-gazette.com/tv. We want to know which shows you like, which ones you can't stand and a little bit of demographic information just to see who's interested in which programs. Please don't vote more than once. Votes will be tallied through April 28.

If you don't own a computer, you can vote using one at your local library. If worst comes to worst, you can write to me - no phone calls or e-mail, please - with your choices, age and gender, but just one ballot per envelope.

Now that broadcast network Pax TV is on in Pittsburgh, albeit via cable, we've added Pax series to the lineup. We're also changing results to show percentages alongside the number of votes cast.

This is not a scientific study, and it's not realistic either. There's no way CBS's "Danny" will rise from the dead. But, hey, if you were the person who watched it and loved it, by all means, cast a vote in its favor.

So far, the networks have renewed most of their regular series and announced the cancellation of several - The WB's "Felicity," Fox's "The X-Files" - but there's also a significant number of shows that hang in the balance. Here's a look at the "bubble" series on each network:

ABC

Low-rated drama "Once and Again" is receiving the most attention from slavishly devoted fans, but realistically, ABC has given up on the show. Frankly, if the series wasn't owned by ABC corporate parent Disney, "Once and Again" would probably have been canceled after its first year.

"The Job" is unlikely to return, and one-time hits "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," "Spin City" and "Dharma & Greg" are on the chopping block, too. "Philly" has a chance, but it's not a lock to return.

CBS

"Family Law" was almost a goner a year ago and it's in the same spot now. "Touched By an Angel" is probably on the highway to TV show heaven. "That's Life" has already been snuffed out with production halted earlier this year.

Despite a strong start and adjective-heavy promos touting "First Monday" as a hit, CBS's wishing didn't make it so. Expect to see this drama off the docket. "The Education of Max Bickford" could be expelled, and "The Ellen Show" will definitely be a no-show come fall.

Fox

Anorexic or not, one-time ratings hit and critical darling "Ally McBeal" is on life support, its ratings down dramatically and its creative juices long ago sapped.

Despite news that James Cameron ("Titanic," "The Terminator") will direct the season finale of "Dark Angel" - a last-ditch effort - Max and her mutant friends probably will not return.

No new episodes of animated shows "Futurama" and "Family Guy" have been ordered. Both have long lead times that require an advance renewal. However, there are enough leftover episodes of "Futurama" that it will linger on the schedule for at least part of next season.

Comedies "Undeclared," "Titus" and "Grounded for Life" are on shaky ground, too. But "24" may live to see another day.

NBC

Bam! "Emeril" was a flop. "Inside Schwartz" is out. "UC: Undercover" was blown away. "Three Sisters" won't live to acquire additional siblings, and Colin Quinn's live show was definitely dead on arrival in the ratings.

"Ed" and 'Third Watch" will likely be back, though the former is more secure than the latter.

Pax

Based on comments by Pax president Jeff Sagansky, it's no mystery that the chances for another season of "Mysterious Ways" are not good.

UPN

Expect to see the aliens of "Roswell" depart the TV planet for good. "Special Unit 2" has already been exterminated.

And those recently premiered midseason comedies "As If" and "The Random Years"? I'll be shocked if they're still on the air when you read this.

The WB

Despite middling ratings, "Angel" will probably return just to keep the show away from UPN. "Dawson's Creek" should be blown out to sea but may eke out another year.

"No Boundaries" will be declared out of bounds. Comedies "Maybe It's Me" and "Raising Dad" are questionable, and incorrigible "Off Centre" will probably end up off the schedule, too.


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

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