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Keep or Cancel? The viewers choose

Sunday, March 30, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Every year, this unscientific poll generates a greater response, but I have to wonder whether it will this year.

How will you vote?
Click here to vote for or against the renewal of network TV shows online.

With all the reality shows swamping prime time and all the disgusted responses I've heard from viewers about that development, do people still care enough about TV shows to vote?

Yeah, they probably do.

People who love their shows will continue to love them, reality programs notwithstanding.

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 demographic information about you just to see who's interested in which programs. This year, you'll also have the option of writing some comments about TV.

Vote your conscience, but don't get carried away. Only one vote will be accepted per computer. As in years past, shows receiving an inordinate, reality-defying number of votes will be disqualified.

Votes will be tallied through April 27, and the results will be published in one of my Thursday columns in early May.

If you don't own a computer or more than one person in your house wants to vote, you can write to me - no phone calls or e-mail, please - with your choices, age, gender and zip code. One ballot will be cast per envelope received.

We'll send the results to each broadcast network president. Honestly, chances are they won't pay attention, unless you're young and wealthy, the only demographics networks seem to care about. But, hey, at least you'll feel better knowing you voted for your favorites.

If you want to write a note of concern to a network about a favorite show, addresses are at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV LINKS. (Letters through the mail always get more attention from networks than e-mail.)

What's "on the bubble" (a k a "on the chopping block") this spring? Read on:

ABC

It never fails. The network with the fewest shows worthy of renewal has announced the greatest number of pick-ups for the fall season. ABC renewed just about all its sitcoms currently on the air.

The most question marks surround "The Practice," which took a beating in the ratings after ABC moved it to Monday to make way for "Dragnet," which hasn't exactly burned up the ratings itself.

As for "Miracles" and "Veritas," don't hold your breath.

CBS

With most of its scripted series clicking, the cancellation ax hangs over few CBS series. Unless renewal negotiations for "JAG" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" collapse, the Tuesday and Monday night lineups should return as is. ("Still Standing" on Monday is the sole on-the-bubble show.)

It's already been announced that "Touched By an Angel" will end, but "The Agency" seems like it probably will get another shot.

"Hack" is iffy, and it will take a few more weeks before the fate of "My Big Fat Greek Life" is known. But overall, CBS is in good shape.

Fox

"Fastlane" appears to be zooming toward cancellation, given its depressed ratings. "John Doe" isn't doing much better but at least has a cult following that might help it eke out a second season.

"Cedric the Entertainer Presents" may be in danger of cancellation, but I think the acclaimed "Bernie Mac Show" is safe.

Production has ceased on "Futurama," so it's done. Fox is likely to bring back a reconfigured "Joe Millionaire" in the fall with "American Idol" following at mid-season.

NBC

Of all the networks, NBC probably has the most quality shows in precarious positions for renewal, most notably "American Dreams," "Boomtown" and "Ed."

"American Dreams" has improved NBC's demos on Sunday, but will that be enough to keep it in production? As a fan, I hope so. Same goes for "Boomtown," a police drama that continues to improve as it evolves. An episode earlier this month about a kidnapped cop was particularly intense.

Even "Ed," which has improved creatively since attention shifted away from the Ed-Carol relationship, may be in danger. The current Friday night trial run, may be crucial to the show's future.

And "A.U.S.A."? Well, it was DOA in the Nielsen ratings, so any appeal filed by its producers will fall on deaf ears at the network.

Pax

"Just Cause" is in a precarious state, and "Body & Soul" is already off the prime-time schedule, but Pax's best show, "Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye," is a lock to return.

UPN

Is there anything worth saving?

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will come to an end in May and it's time. Better to go out a little less than what it once was than to wait until the quality declines further.

"Enterprise" is lost in space creatively, although it's sure to return regardless. "Twilight Zone" has 50-50 odds of renewal.

Only UPN's Monday lineup of comedies is likely to return mostly intact.

The WB

"Do Over" won't. The second "Family Affair" is done. And two Friday night sitcoms - "What I Like About You" and "Greetings From Tucson" - are on the bubble.

Other than "Dawson's Creek," just about all the dramas currently airing are set to return with one glaring exception: "Angel."

This "Buffy" spin-off has always had a loyal core audience that follows it to any time slot, but as Entertainment president Jordan Levin said last month, the show has limited upside because it's virtually impossible to get new viewers hooked.

As with all series in precarious straits, we probably won't know the fate of "Angel" until the networks announce their fall schedules in mid-May.


You can reach Rob Owen at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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