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 V.15 No.40 | October 5 - 11, 2006 

Idiot Box

Gone, Baby, Gone

DeathWatch: Fall ‘06

The new TV season has barely gotten into second gear. Tons of new shows have yet to premiere. And yet, what’s more fun than talking about your favorite new series? Why, talking about what shows are about to fail miserably, of course.

The TV-centric web site recently instituted the fall 2006 edition of DeathWatch. The objective is to track all of the new network shows and decide which one will be the first to get the ax. This has been an increasingly difficult game in recent years, mostly because the networks are becoming loath to actually cancel shows. Instead, series are put on permanent hiatus, a mysterious limbo category floating in the ether between “canceled” and “actually on the air.”

BBCancelled has turned doom and gloom prognostication into a game. Enter the DeathWatch contest, guess correctly and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an iPod or a 37” flatscreen TV.

Popping out the top of the DeathWatch list is FOX’s “Happy Hour.” The show no longer has odds, as FOX has removed it from the schedule. Technically, FOX has removed all of its shows from the schedule due to the baseball playoffs. But FOX took the unusual step of yanking two shows--“Happy Hour” and “Justice”--for one week prior to the start of baseball. FOX says both shows will return in November, but few expect “Happy Hour,” which saw awful ratings and worse reviews, to see the light of day again. (Expect FOX shows “’Til Death,” “Vanished” and “Standoff” to jump on the train to hiatus land sooner rather than later.)

Coming in the de facto first place on DeathWatch’s list now is ABC’s Friday night comedy/drama “Men in Trees” with 3:1 odds on cancellation. Ratings for the show have been low, but Friday night is a traditionally bad night for viewership, and I doubt ABC is all that concerned. Expect it to stick around for a little while.

Oddly enough, ABC’s critically praised “Ugly Betty” hovers in DeathWatch’s number two spot with 8:1 odds. The show debuted last week with a 10.7 rating, winning the timeslot. Meaning, of course, its chances of getting canceled are pretty much nil. ABC’s felonious sitcom “The Knights of Prosperity” (9:1); ABC’s new Ted Danson vehicle “Help Me Help You” (17:1); and CBS’ post-nuke drama “Jericho” (20:1) round out the top five. (Note that there are no NBC shows on the list. Perhaps because the site is owned by NBC Universal. Don’t think your “Kidnapped” is immune, Peacock Network!)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the web,’s “Test Pattern” columnist Gael Fashingbauer Cooper has picked ABC’s “Big Day,” FOX’s “Happy Hour,” FOX’s “Standoff,” ABC’s “Men in Trees” and FOX’s “Vanished” as the top five shows in her dead pool. “Big Day,” in which a young couple’s wedding unfolds minute by minute over the course of a single season a la “24,” is certainly the dumbest concept of the new season. (What’s in store for season two: the honeymoon?) The show has already been pushed to midseason, though. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it never makes it on the air.

So what will be the first new show of the 2006-07 season to be canceled? ... Can I vote for the entire MyNetTV network?


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