No guesswork here: The major networks made their definitive announcements last week as to which TV shows will be coming back in the fall—and, by omission, which shows won’t. Was The Only TV Column That Matters™ at every net press conference, sucking down complimentary cheladas (they’re everywhere, folks) and jotting random notes? As far as you know, yes.
NBC made the first move, announcing their 2001-’02 line-up last Monday and surprising absolutely no one with the confirmed schedule—except maybe Steven Weber, who was curled into a fetal position somewhere and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Dead: The Weber Show, which was sometimes funnier than Friends—if you hit the mute button and read it close-captioned. The Fighting Fitzgeralds, which somehow managed to be reliably lousier than The Weber Show. 3rd Rock From the Sun, and with only 756 reruns in syndication. Michael Richards … must we revisit the horror? Also dead: First Years, DAG, Deadline, Tucker, Titans and The XFL, which was canceled not only by NBC, but UPN, TNN and society as a whole. And I thought it would be as big as the chelada, my bad.
Alive: Friends—why?! Just Shoot Me—again, why?! Will & Grace, arguably still funny. ER, arguably still in a hospital. Providence, arguably still whatever the hell it is, but with bigger hair. Three Sisters, also worse than Weber—where’s the justice? Ed—oh, here’s the justice! Weakest Link for two nights weekly, just as NBC promised would never happen, the bastards. Still alive: Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Third Watch, Frasier and The West Wing, as per the Liberal Media Conspiracy.
ABC followed, making good on their promises to cut back on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire airings (twice weekly come fall), and really cut back on Two Guys & a Girl (zero weekly, forever).
Dead: Two Guys & a Girl, since there is a God. Norm, since there isn’t. The Geena Davis Show … let’s call it even. Also dead: The Trouble With Normal, Madigan Men and Gideon’s Crossing.
Alive: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but at least not every stinkin’ night. Whose Line is It Anyway?, which only costs $14 to produce. The Drew Carey Show—even less. Once & Again, moving to fortysomething-friendly Fridays for its housebound audience. What About Joan; the question mark is still on back-order. My Wife & Kids; the laughs are still on back-order. The Job, where Denis Leary and quality finally win out … weird. Still alive: The Practice, Dharma & Greg, Spin City, The Mole and NYPD Blue, which will move to Wednesdays, driving creator Steven Bochco right to da edge, Andy! Right to da edge!
The WB prefaced their fall sked announcement with the news that Shannen Doherty had finally played the psycho-bitch card one time too many, resulting in Ms. DUI getting booted from Charmed in favor of keeping less-insane rival Alyssa Milano. Any replacement has some mighty big shoes (actually, sweaters) to fill next season.
Dead: Roswell, but UPN likes that it has viewers—something they kinda need, hence the pick-up. Popular … [sniff] … If now-jobless hottie Carly Pope replaces Doherty on Charmed, I may find the will to go on. Grosse Pointe, this season’s less-abrasive Action. Also dead: For Your Love, Jack & Jill, The PJs and (shock) The Oblongs.
Alive: Angel, and now Buffy’s ex-playmate moves to Mondays, after 7th Heaven, which is a perfect match with Angel … in Tardville. Charmed, minus one—Carly! Pope! Now! Nikki, which is obviously a dumb show, but have you seen Nikki Cox? Gilmore Girls, which replaces Buffy on Tuesdays, so I can endlessly browbeat even more people into watching—woo-hoo! Still alive: Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Popstars, Steve Harvey and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who’s now technically old enough to watch Once & Again.
CBS, getting cocky after all that demographic-swaying Survivor nonsense, went on a geezer-killing spree with its fall schedule, as well as shaking up six nights. “It’s a very ambitious schedule,” CBS President Les Moonves says. “We’re taking a few more chances than our competitors. We can be bold.” We’ll see, stud.
Dead: Bette, Big Apple, City of Angels, Nash Bridges (!), Diagnosis Murder (!!), The Fugitive, Kate Brasher, Some of My Best Friends, Walker Texas Ranger and Welcome to New York … Wow, the Les-Man isn’t dicking around, is he?
Alive: Becker, CSI, The District, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Law, Judging Amy, JAG, King of Queens, Survivor and Yes Dear … Then again, bold comes in spurts. At least CBS in hanging onto neglected underdog That’s Life, one of the better (and virtually unseen) shows of 2000-’01, and Touched by an Angel will get demoted to its old Saturday-at-7 death slot. It’s all because of Roma Downey’s new traffic-cone orange hair, I’m tellin’ ya.
Fox is going comedy-crazy in the fall, airing more sitcoms than at any time in its 14 years—and they’re all actually funny! Is this any way to run a network?
Dead: FreakyLinks, burning off its remaining unaired episodes on Fridays this summer beginning June 1. At least it got on TV, unlike the still-missing Night Visions hosted by Henry “Still-Missing” Rollins. The Lone Gunmen, which was usually waaay better than the show from whence it spun, spiraling suckfest The X-Files. Don’t e-mail, X-geeks—you know it’s the truth, and it’s really out there. Also dead: Boot Camp, Normal Ohio and The $treet.
Alive: The Tick (!), the dementedly funny live-action version of the dementedly funny cartoon will finally get its shot against evil on Thursdays—spoon! The Family Guy (!!), which has been in cold storage for well over a year, will precede it in mutual doom against Survivor and Friends. Dark Angel moves to Fridays, where Fox sci-fi shows go to die. Now this is more like how networks are run. Still alive: Ally McBeal, America’s Most Wanted, Boston Public, Cops, Futurama, Grounded for Life, King of the Hill, Malcolm in the Middle, The Simpsons, Temptation Island, That ’70s Show, Titus and (gawd) The X-Files.
UPN, all hopped-up on “real network” endorphins after snatching away Buffy and Roswell from The Frog, made its fall announcements last Thursday at a Ramada Inn out by the airport. Don’t laugh, they sling a mean chelada out there.
Dead: Star Trek: Voyager, Moesha, Seven Days, Gary & Mike, All Souls, Freedom, Level 9 and (oh mercy) Chains of Love. Raise of hands, anyone care? Let’s move on. Alive: WWF Smackdown, Girlfriends, The Hughleys, The Parkers and Special Unit 2, my personal favorite new UPN cheap-o sci-fi show—and just imagine how much more cheesy it’s going to look alongside Buffy and Roswell. I’m wrapping tinfoil on the rabbit ears right now! u