Maybe it’s the influence of the WB, but TV programming is starting to resemble high school in one important way: It takes only about a month to get branded as either a winner or a loser. That said, here’s EW Online’s take on the new shows that are emerging as cool kids (with full-season extensions), delinquents (cancellation), or outcasts (shunted aside during Sweeps, with an unclear future).
THE IN CROWD
Snoops Critics who hated this spy show assumed it would be David E. Kelley’s first great failure, but instead the Gina Gershon/Paula Marshall series has been averaging 11.5 million viewers, regularly tying NBC’s Sunday-night movie for first place. Kelley’s got his work cut out for him at the word processor, though: ABC has picked up ”Snoops” for a full season, where it will continue to precede his Emmy winner ”The Practice.”
Once and Again How much does ABC love its highest-rated new drama in the 18-49 demographic? Enough to leave it in ”NYPD Blue”’s time slot, thereby antagonizing Steven Bochco. The life-after-divorce drama has been extended for the full season, but if it’s renewed for next fall, Bochco might head to NBC by kickoff time.
Judging Amy If its setup sounded just like ”Providence”’s, then it should be no surprise that its success sounds just like that of its NBC doppelgänger too. This sappy drama got dismissive reviews, but CBS’s loyal older audience latched onto it: ”Amy” is averaging 15.5 million viewers from ages 25 to 54, and ratings have gone up every week since its premiere.
Angel The WB barely waited until nightfall to commit to a full season of this ”Buffy” spin-off. ”Angel”’s audience has increased 8 percent over its ”Buffy” lead-in, and its ratings are 43 percent higher than last year’s owner of the time slot, ”Felicity.” Now those are numbers that don’t suck.
Popular The WB has extended this show to a full season because it’s living up to its name among teenage girl viewers, becoming the fourth-most-watched series in that demographic – beating even ”Friends.” Take that, you decrepit old Jennifer Aniston!
MORE WINNERS Also getting full season orders are NBC’s ”The West Wing,” ”Third Watch” and ”Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, and CBS’s ”Family Law” and ”Now and Again.” The WB’s ”Roswell” was originally bought for an unprecedented 22 episodes, and it will likely last for all of them, considering the alien hour was the second-highest-rated premiere in the network’s history, after ”Charmed.”
Fox Things looked grim when the network announced that it was killing the ”Cruel Intentions”-based ”Manchester Prep” before it even premiered. Since then, nothing has gone right: All the critical butt-kissing in the world couldn’t stop ”Action” from getting mauled by NBC’s Must See TV and UPN’s ”WWF Smackdown.” Now Fox is benching the inside-Hollywood comedy – along with ”Get Real” – for November sweeps. And just this week the network canceled ”Ryan Caulfield: Year One” and Chris Carter’s ”Harsh Realm,” which would now make a fine nickname for the network itself.
Wasteland The sight of beautiful young people experiencing life angst didn’t arouse much viewer sympathy: During the week of Oct. 14 the show placed sixth in its time slot, behind every other network, and ABC has yanked this Kevin Williamson drama for sweeps. Network reps swear it will return, but viewers probably won’t notice if it doesn’t.
The Mike O’Malley Show This NBC sitcom got the most early promo time, yet it was the first cancellation of the 1999-2000 season. Maybe there’s justice after all.
Work With Me Kevin Pollak and Nancy Travis will need to find other coworkers: CBS axed their sitcom this week.
Time of Your Life Although only one episode has aired so far, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Fox spin-off looks like it’s drawing a party of less than five. Even with its well-publicized retooling, the show’s 3.9 rating among 18- to 34-year-olds was down 24 percent from last year, when ”Melrose Place” – in its waning days – was in that time slot. To paraphrase Lou Grant, ”We hate spunk!”
Stark Raving Mad Nestled between ”Frasier” and ”ER,” there’s no way this middling sitcom could fail. It already has a full-season order thanks to an average audience of 18.4 million viewers. But woe be to Neil Patrick Harris if NBC moves his show: Anyone remember its Must See predecessor ”Union Square”?
Freaks and Geeks Critics like it, but audiences seem indifferent. And it’s getting awfully late for NBC to jump in with a full-season reprieve. Must the Geeks be picked last for everything?