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Why ''Felicity'' deserves a better fate than it's getting

Ken Tucker says the WB should wake up and realize what a great show it has — before it’s too late

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Why ”Felicity” deserves a better fate than it’s getting

These are the days network programmers make their final decisions about which low rated TV shows will be canceled to make way for hopefully better rated TV shows. It’s also the time when fans emerge to petition the networks and the press to ”save” cherished shows. I’ve already written about the ”Roswell” campaign, which involved civilians pelting industry professionals with small bottles of Tabasco sauce, meant to signify that — and heavens knows I’m quoting here — ”’Roswell’ is hot!”

Fans of other shows have tried similar tactics. ”Freaks and Geeks” freaks have been implored to send network heads bags of peanuts. Why? Because one of that great NBC show’s most vivid characters, the gangly, bespectacled Bill, was shown in one episode to be allergic to peanuts. I don’t get it: You try to save a show by sending an item that almost killed one of your favorite characters?

No matter; I can say two things about ”Freaks and Geeks”: It was an extraordinarily well written, nuanced, and hilarious show (through the kind graces of its creators, I have seen the series’ last five, unaired episodes, and they are heartbreakingly good). It also doesn’t have a chance of survival, I suspect — this was a show about teens intended for adults, not enough of whom ever watched it.

I am shocked that the WB’s ”Felicity” even needs its present letter-writing campaign to save it; this series is so patently original, endearing, and well performed, a still struggling network like the WB should be financing its future for the sheer honor of broadcasting its excellence. In an (un)funny way, I think the show’s creators helped start doubt about the show by saying publicly that Keri Russell’s short haircut was a mistake and that the first half of this season was creatively wobbly.

Um, excuse me, but that’s dead wrong: ”Felicity” has been consistently engrossing in a way that transcends its ”twee college girl” premise. (Oh, and the hair? If only for last week’s derisive joke — a reference to our heroine as ”Chia Head” — I think the regrettable ‘do was worth it.) And by the way, I love ”Felicity”’s time-period competition, ”West Wing,” too, but even a techno-moron like myself can tape one and watch the other on Wednesday nights at 9.

”Party of Five,” which signs off this week about three years too late, was a perfectly decent little show that was overrated every minute of its six season existence. Compare that to now having to beg to keep poor, superior ”Felicity” on the air, and our rallying cry rings out: No justice, no peace!