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Archive for Saturday, November 25, 2000

On the tube: the season so far

New fall series hits in ratings game include ‘The District,’ ‘CSI

November 25, 2000

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The holiday season is under way, the November "sweeps" are almost out of the way and the TV season has finished its first quarter of play.

Which is one way of saying it's time for a status report on the 30 new fall series that came your way in September, October and finally on Nov. 14, when NBC's "DAG" became the last freshman to fly its colors.

First the goners. NBC has canceled "Tucker" and "Deadline." And ABC officially is through with "The Trouble With Normal." Several other series are on the ropes and may have been axed by the time you read this. Now let's look further:

CBS Last season's sleeper hit was CBS' "Judging Amy."

This year, another CBS newcomer, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," earns that distinction. It is prime-time's highest-rated new drama series and also the most popular program on Friday nights, outdrawing both NBC's "Providence" and ABC's long-running "20/20."

CBS also has a Saturday night success story in Craig T. Nelson's "The District." And its critically reviled "Yes, Dear" has managed to fit in on Mondays in a snuggly time slot between "King of Queens" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Two other higher-profile series aren't doing as well, although Bette Midler's "Bette" and "The Fugitive" both have received full-season orders of 22 episodes. This is a vote of confidence but doesn't necessarily mean that either series will keep going and going and going. If their ratings drop-offs persist, they could be yanked, with unaired episodes then burned off in the summer. That's a more likely scenario with "The Fugitive" than "Bette."

The network's other newcomers, "That's Life" and "Welcome to New York," are more vulnerable. "That's Life" is a personal favorite and merits a second chance in a better time period than Saturdays at 7 p.m. "Welcome to New York," which follows the slumping "Bette" on Wednesdays, has been losing viewers at an even faster pace than she has.

NBC The network is taking strong measures to save the critically praised "Ed," which is being moved from Sundays at 7 p.m. to Wednesdays at the same hour on Dec. 6. Its classy running mates on that night will be NBC's "The West Wing" and "Law & Order." Bravo.

"Cursed," nestled between "Friends" and "Will & Grace" on Thursday nights, is an occasionally amusing comedy that's made its way into the top 20 only because of where it is. In recent seasons, NBC sequentially has tried "The Single Guy," "Union Square" and "Jesse" in this 7:30 p.m. slot. "Cursed" might well join them in the cancellation corral, but not imminently.

NBC's Tuesday night leadoff hitter, "The Michael Richards Show," is a stinker with sinking ratings to boot. It might last longer than it deserves because of the network's investment in its star, who gained fame as a "Seinfeld" sidekick.

The steamy soap "Titans" is going to Mondays at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4. It's been struggling on Wednesdays after a semi-strong start.

It's still too soon to tell with the late-breaking "DAG."

ABC Not much to tell. "Madigan Men" is unlikely to make it to midseason. The network's other remaining newcomers, "Gideon's Crossing" and "The Geena Davis Show," have received full-season pickups. The former deserves it. The latter does not.

Fox "Dark Angel" had the good fortune to air opposite two presidential debates, and profited on each night. Its ratings since have slipped, but Fox is on board with a full-season pickup.

The latest David E. Kelley hour, "Boston Public," has done well so far following "Ally McBeal." It's also received a 22-episode order.

"Normal, Ohio," the critically panned John Goodman series, made its premiere in early November and had decent ratings. Fox likely will stay with it for a while.

"The $treet," another late-starter, bombed on its opening night. It's likely facing a dead end. "Freakylinks" is a dead, too.

The WB "Gilmore Girls" is a bright spot for the network and has been picked up for a full season. So has "Nikki," despite continued anemic ratings on Sunday nights.

"Grosse Pointe," an often very funny spoof of teen serial dramas, has been mired at the bottom of the ratings all season long. Its prospects are sub-iffy. Hype also is struggling, but has been placing a few ticks ahead of "Grosse Pointe" in the weekly ratings. On the little dude networks, though, it's never over 'til it's over. A teeny tiny "surge" in the ratings is often all it takes.

UPN "Girlfriends" easily is the network's most visible new series and has received a full-season order despite usually drawing fewer viewers than its Monday night "urban comedy" running mates "The Hughleys," "The Parkers" and "Moesha."

"Freedom" and "Level 9" are cemented at the bottom of weekly Nielsen scorecards and are the only new series with lower ratings than "Grosse Pointe."

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