With the summer season in full swing, and shows like “Dancing With the Stars” emerging as smash hits (I blame you, America!), the networks have taken the time to drop the hammer on series that did not exactly perform during the regular season. Some of you out there may be shocked to find your favorite shows in the dustbin come fall ... but I doubt it. Most of the shows that got canceled sucked.
ABC, with three major hits on its hands (“Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey's Anatomy”), held on to a large percentage of its lineup. Even lowly fare like “Jake in Progress,” “Less Than Perfect,” and the risible reality show “The Bachelor” have merely been pushed to midseason replacement status. ABC did clear a few weeds, hacking off the Mel Gibson-produced sitcom “Complete Savages” as well as the poorly aged “My Wife and Kids” and “Simple Rules,” which never really found its way after star John Ritter died. Also on the chopping block was “Extreme Makeover,” which got mightily overshadowed by its spin-off “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
NBC actually shed most of its dead weight earlier in the season as a result of an atrocious new schedule that produced nary a hit. In fact, “Joey” and “The Office”--neither of which is showing much ratings pep--were the only new sitcoms to get renewed. Sleeper hit “Medium” easily won a second season. “Will & Grace” and “West Wing,” both of which still pull in respectable ratings, are both expected to be entering their final seasons this fall. ... Which means, of course, that NBC better find some big hits in the upcoming season.
CBS canceled “Judging Amy” after a six-year run in a continuing attempt to shed its image as the geriatric network. The younger-skewing “Joan of Arcadia,” generally supported by critics, couldn't keep its ratings up and didn't make the cut either. Sitcoms “Listen Up” and “Center of the Universe” both disappeared with barely a notice.
FOX made its smartest move by (barely) renewing the excellent, but ratings-starved “Arrested Development.” (The show moves to Mondays next season.) The network handed pink slips to “Tru Calling,” “Life on a Stick,” and “Quintuplets.” “That '70s Show,” “King of the Hill,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Bernie Mac Show” will all come back in fall, but all are expected to be in their final season.
“Enterprise” warped off into the great unknown, leaving UPN without a “Star Trek” flagship for the first time in its existence. “Kevin Hill,” “Second Time Around” and “The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliot” will not return either.
Finally, The WB canceled the freshman drama “Jack and Bobby.” The show offered great promise, but couldn't lure viewers. Despite critical support, its death comes as little surprise. Still, WB held on to “Living with Fran” and “What I Like About You,” so there's just no accounting for taste.