In the end, few wanted to join Fox's ''girls club.'' The network canceled the series Tuesday after just two low-rated outings. And while slews of new shows get the ax every fall, it's rare for it to happen to series creator and writer David E. Kelley, whose long streak of hits -- ''Picket Fences,'' ''Ally McBeal,'' ''The Practice,'' and ''Boston Public'' -- has now apparently come to an end. As the New York Times reports, no Kelley show has ever been scrapped this quickly.
'The ''Ally''-like ''girls club,'' about three attractive young women lawyers that filled ''Ally'''s old timeslot on Mondays at 9 p.m., finished fifth in that slot on Monday, behind even the WB (new hit ''Everwood'') and UPN (''Girlfriends'') and drawing just 5 million viewers. Its lackluster numbers contrasted with Fox's overall Nielsen win as last week's most-watched network, averaging 16.3 million viewers, thanks to the World Series.
The show is a rare flop for Kelley, who last season had three shows on the air at once (''Practice,'' ''Ally,'' and ''Boston'') and was writing for all of them. Critics lambasted ''girls club''; Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker found the series ''pretty repellent'' and wrote of Kelley, ''It's time for this writer to go into a dark room and put a cool, damp washcloth on his brow. He needs to give it a rest for a while.''
Kelley issued a statement yesterday, saying, ''While I am disappointed that the show did not succeed, I remain proud of the entire cast and crew of 'girls club.''' Fox has not commented on the cancellation, perhaps because it still has an ongoing relationship with Kelley, as the network continues to air ''Boston'' and has a deal with the writer/producer to create future shows.
However, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox Broadcasting entertainment president Gail Berman did acknowledge yesterday that the network had made some errors in planning its fall lineup, particularly in scheduling new shows to premiere before the baseball playoffs and then letting them lose their momentum for a month. At a New York breakfast for the International Radio & Television Society Foundation, she said the disruption caused ''disarray in terms of getting a toehold'' for new shows like ''Fastlane, ''John Doe,'' and ''Firefly.'' ''It's very difficult to preview two nights of programming and take the programs off for four weeks.''
Plus, the all-California World Series proved to be of only mild interest to viewers in the rest of the country, resulting in low ratings compared to previous years and a weaker-than-expected platform to promote Fox's new shows.