Don't expect ''Popular,'' ''Norm,'' ''DAG,'' or ''Jack and Jill'' to return next season
The primetime bloodletting began this week as networks slashed the first round of ratings weaklings from their schedules. CBS gave ”Bette” the boot (just one episode after ”Airplane” star Robert Hays made his debut as her new husband), while the WB dropped the sketch comedy ”Hype” and Eddie Murphy’s animated ”The PJs.”
But the TV massacre is just getting started. EW.com gives you our spin on which shows will be toast — and which could eke out a renewal notice — when the fall schedule is unveiled this May.
NETWORK THE WB
ON THE EDGE ”Popular,” ”Jack and Jill,” ”The Gilmore Girls”
UN-‘POPULAR’ A critical hit, ”Popular” hasn’t been able to seduce viewers. Ranked No. 133 last season, the savvy high school comedy isn’t faring any better this year — and the WB is only willing to coast on critical raves for so long. ”The show is extremely vulnerable,” says says Marc Berman of Mediaweek. ”I’m 90 percent sure it isn’t coming back.”
DOWN THE HILL Though the WB rejuvenated ”Felicity,” its time slot buddy wasn’t so lucky. This month ”Jack and Jill” was whomped by UPN’s ”Voyager” (which will soon be off the air) by a painful 117 percent. In other words, Amanda Peet fans will soon have to see her at the movies.
‘GIRLS’ WANT TO HAVE RERUNS ”The Gilmore Girls” is getting clobbered on Thursday nights trying to face down both ”Friends” and ”Survivor” 2. But because critics (like EW’s Bruce Fretts) love the show, the WB will likely give it another chance. But couldn’t they give it another chance on Mondays?
ON THE EDGE ”Third Rock from the Sun,” ”DAG,” ”The Weber Show”
‘ROCK’ OF AGING After 29 Emmy nominations and eight seasons, ”Third Rock” is facing the black hole of cancellation. Though NBC hasn’t made an official announcement, producers have already prepared for the show’s extermination by filming a ”final” episode with Elvis Costello crooning ”Fly Me to the Moon.” Not only has the sitcom slipped dramatically in the ratings, its stars are raking in more dough than NBC can justify paying out for a flop. Last year John Lithgow snared a hefty $200,000 per episode. Need we say more?
‘DAG’ WILL BE BAGGED The polished comic timing of David Alan Grier and a cameo by Lil’ Kim (who played a temp) couldn’t boost ”DAG”’s abysmal ratings. Though the show made a promising debut in 22nd place, it didn’t stay there long, dropping to 47th. ”There’s no way it’s coming back,” says Berman. ”NBC will want to try something new.”
‘WEBER’ IS CURSED Despite a title change from the prophetic ”Cursed” and a midseason makeover, ”Weber” hasn’t improved its luck. NBC yanked the show prior to February sweeps. Though star Weber told EW he thought escaping a timeslot opposite ”Survivor” 2 was a blessing in disguise, critics don’t agree. ”That’s a bad sign,” says Tom Watson of Western Initiative Media. ”It means the network just doesn’t consider it strong enough to survive sweeps.”