Which of these new TV shows will get canceled first? Ken Tucker performs his annual rite of passage and predicts which dismal duds will be the first network casualties
Mark Addy, Jami Gertz, ...
Credit: Still Standing: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Cedric the Entertainer Presents

Which of these new TV shows will get canceled first?

The new fall TV season has just begun, so of course it’s time to…guess which shows will be canceled first!

You may consider this sadistic or mean-spirited. But believe me, once you’ve seen what the networks have in store for you, you’ll be saying it’s just a healthy defense mechanism. There is so much mediocrity, so much mushy, middle-of-the-road product being foisted upon us, that guessing the early cancellations is almost merciful, because it’ll mean that there’ll be more room for new shows that might be better.

So, even if you haven’t seen the shows yet, you’ve seen the ads and promos, so you probably know what I’m talking about. Here are the top three (or four) candidates I figure for premature bye-byes.

”Hack” (Friday, 9 p.m., CBS)
Good actors — ”St. Elsewhere”’s David Morse, ”Homicide”’s Andre Braugher — stuck in the season’s silliest premise: Morse is a disgraced cop now driving a cab in Philadelphia. Every week, someone climbs into the back of his taxi with a problem, and Morse volunteers to help him out. Right. This avenger-with-a-money-meter seems destined for a short ride down a dead-end street.

”Presidio Med” (Wednesday, 10 p.m., CBS) versus ”MDs” (Wednesday, 10 p.m., ABC)
Here are two hospital shows, both set in San Francisco and scheduled opposite each other, that are worthy of a quick demise. ”Presidio” features a terrific cast including Anna Deveare Smith, Blythe Danner, and Dana Delaney, but its pilot mires them in soap-opera melodrama or ignores them for the younger cast members in relentless pursuit of a young demographic. Phooey. ”MDs” also stars two talented actors, William Fichtner and John Hannah, but they’re cast as a pair of snarky wiseguys, clearly modeled on (i.e., ripped off from) the doctors on ”M*A*S*H.” Which show will disappear first? Place your bets.

”Still Standing” (Monday, 9:30, CBS)
A thoroughly unbelievable sitcom starring Jami Gertz and ”The Full Monty”’s Mark Addy — again, talented actors both — miscast as a working-class couple trying to make ends meet. The thudding banality of the premise, combined with the well-intentioned but still misguided casting, plus — oh, yeah — NO LAUGHS, make this a sitcom that could vanish quickly, despite its cushy post-”Everybody Loves Raymond” time slot.

By the way, if it seems like I’m picking on CBS more than the other networks, the opposite is actually true: Because CBS has in some ways the strongest schedule, from ”CSI” to ”Raymond,” it’s the one most likely to prune its schedule of duds. It can yank shows faster, because its older shows are strong.

ABC and Fox, on the other hand, are really scrounging around for viewers, so they’re more likely to stick with stuff like ”Dinotopia,” (Didn’t anyone at ABC notice that the miniseries from which it’s spun got lower ratings as it went along?) Or ”Cedric the Entertainer Presents,” a Fox variety show that does not do justice to its very funny star — go see him in the movie ”Barbershop” if you doubt me.

So which shows do YOU think will be the first to get canceled?

Cedric the Entertainer Presents
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