The strange odyssey of "The Hogan Family" has finally come to an end - the show has been canceled by CBS.
Back in 1986, the program premiered on NBC as "Valerie," starring Valerie Harper in the title role as the wife of an airline pilot (Josh Taylor) and mother of three boys (Jason Bateman, Jeremy Licht and Danny Ponce).It was an idyllic TV family - until the following year, when disputes between Harper and the producers led to the actress's firing. In one of the more morbid explanations ever offered on a family sitcom, the character of "Valerie" was killed off in an unseen auto accident, and Sandy Duncan was brought aboard as Aunt Sandy.
At this point, the action off-screen became far more interesting than anything happening on-screen. The show was renamed "Valerie's Family," but Harper sued to get her name off the title. And, while the producers claimed Harper had been fired because of her unprofessional-ism, she struck back with another suit for breach of contract.
Harper eventually won her suit - and several million dollars.
Meanwhile, the again-renamed "Hogan Family" remained an NBC stalwart on Monday nights for three more seasons, finally faltering in the ratings last year. (Ironically, Harper returned with the short-lived CBS sitcom "City" in early 1990 that competed head-to-head with "The Hogan Family" for several weeks.)
When NBC hesitated about renewing the show in the spring, the producers turned to struggling CBS, which jumped at the chance for even a marginal hit.
But, in the end, like most shows, it was the ratings that killed "The Hogan Family." Before last week's airing, the show ranked 79th out of 101 series in the season to date.
CBS ordered 13 episodes, and network spokespeople assure us that all 13 will be aired - eventually. But don't hold your breath.
NOT-SO WISEGUY: The ax is also poised over "Wiseguy," which returned two Saturdays ago to thundering indifference on the part of the viewing audience.
The Nov. 10 two-hour season premiere - which featured Steven Bauer replacing Ken Wahl in the title role - bombed in the ratings, finished 78th out of 92 shows for the week. A couple of days later, the network ordered a halt to production on the series. (To date, seven episodes have been completed.)
When this week's numbers come out, a good showing this past Saturday may save the series, but (once again), don't hold your breath.
GOOD NEWS: At least there's some good news for a few series out there.
NBC has picked up an entire season's worth of "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "Carol & Co." Add to that a previously issued renewal for "Law & Order."
The way these things usually work is that when a network is picking shows for the fall, it usually orders 13 episodes. Then, depending on the ratings, a "back nine" order will carry through to a full season's worth of 22 episodes.
DO THE BARTMAN: America's favorite animated family will be in your local music stores soon with "The Simpsons Sing the Blues."
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie will be joined on their debut album by B.B. King, Dr. John, Joe Walsh and Buster Poindexter. It will be in the stores on Dec. 4.
And the first single from the album - "Do the Bartman" - hits the airwaves today.
LELAND DID IT: OK, OK. Last week we were again discussing who killed Laura Palmer.
Mr. Spud was worried that Bob (the evil spirit) wasn't inhabiting the body of Leland Palmer when he (Bob, that is) killed Laura. That maybe Bob was inhabiting Benjamin Horne's body at the time.
But now we know that Benjamin has an alibi - even if the police aren't aware of it yet.
So Leland did it. Or . . . uh . . . Bob did it, only he was using Leland's body at the time.
Peaks Freaks might be interested to know that Ray Wise, who plays Leland, had no idea he was going to turn out to be the killer until mid-September.
And can you believe that David Lynch spent 15 hours - 15 hours - directing the sequence in which Bob/Leland murdered Laura's look-alike cousin, Madeline?
NO WEDDING: The Family Channel has backed away from plans for a wedding on "Beauty and the Beast."
The cable channel (which used to be known as the Christian Broadcasting Network and has exclusive rights to reruns of "B&B") Catherine and Vincent produced a child without first entering into wedlock. Family even talked about piecing together a wedding scene.
But protests from fans - and the fact that Family had no legal right to make the change - canceled those plans, and the wedding.