Over the years, yours truly has somehow acquired a reputation for being negative. Perhaps it has something to do with being a critic. Perhaps it's because bad reviews are generally more memorable than good ones.
Perhaps it's because I am negative. At least a lot of the time.So it was with some surprise that I began to review the TV season preview I wrote for the paper this past September. The fact is that, more often than not, I was too kind toward - and overly optimistic about - the more than three dozen new shows that debuted on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB.
(By the way, only six members of last fall's freshman class will survive to be sophomores - "Dharma & Greg" and "The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC; "Veronica's Closet" and "Working" on NBC; and "Ally McBeal" and "The World's Funniest" on Fox.)
Here's a look at how clear yours truly's crystal ball was this past fall:
Brooklyn South (CBS) did not help to "revitalize CBS's Monday lineup" and it did not turn out to be a hit, as predicted. It was canceled at the end of the season.
Cracker (ABC): Saying the show's future was "very much in doubt" was sugarcoating it. It was a bomb from the day it premiered.
George & Leo (CBS) may indeed have been, "quite simply, the best new comedy of the year," when it debuted, but the writers couldn't live up to the excellent pilot episode and the show declined rapidly in quality. The show did not end up being "at least a moderate hit" - it, too, got the ax.
Good News (UPN) didn't exactly get a big vote of confidence. "It isn't a great show, but it isn't bad. It should do at least as well as the rest of UPN's Monday-night line-up." It didn't, and was canceled.
Gregory Hines (CBS) was a good show, but it never delivered ratings to match its quality. "It could work on Fridays. And, if not, CBS may move it elsewhere." It didn't work on Fridays, and it didn't work on any of the other nights on which CBS gave it a shot.
Meego (CBS) is one I'd like to take back. It's easy to stand by the statement that, "It's difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 10 being able to stomach this show." But I was far too taken with CBS's plans to steal a page from ABC's T.G.I.F. playbook. "It pains me to say this, but this show stands a decent chance of succeeding." It was not just a bomb, it was an atomic bomb.
The Tom Show (WB) turned out to be a rather embarrassing gaffe - imagine the shame in over-estimating Tom Arnold! "The show isn't very good, but maybe Arnold has finally found a network with a small enough viewership that even his limited appeal will be appreciated." He didn't, it wasn't and the show was canceled.
Tony Danza (NBC) proved that even yours truly can believe too strongly in the power of the NBC hype machine. "With NBC's promotional power and the Danza name, it could be around for a while." As it turned out, it was quickly yanked off the air, given a second chance, and even more quickly yanked off the air again.
Sleepwalkers (NBC) didn't work anywhere near as well as predicted. "This is a decent fit in NBC's so-called `Saturday Thrill-ogy,' but whether it can ever develop much more than a cult following is questionable." It never got the chance - it was axed after one episode.
You Wish (ABC): While the prediction for this show wasn't exactly nice, it ended up being too nice: "If you're over the age of 9, you may not be able to stomach just how cutesy and dopey this is. If you're a kid, you may love it." As it turned out, kids didn't love it any more than adults.
Ally McBeal (Fox) was a show I liked a lot last fall - and a show I like even more now. But never in my wildest dreams did I think this quirky hour would turn out to be a mainstream hit. "It's a very good show that might work. But it also might be too smart for the Fox audience, whose brains are deadened from watching `Melrose Place.' "
Michael Hayes (CBS) turned out to be a better show than it appeared. Saying "it's not bad, but it isn't particularly good, either" may have applied to the first couple of episodes, but it did get better. Unfortunately, the prediction that it would not survive turned out to be true.
Working (NBC) got itself renewed for next season despite a prediction that "you have to wonder if the show will hold up for a few weeks, let alone a few years."
Alright Already (WB) answered this question as expected: "Do we really need another half-hour of whining every week? It's doubtful."
Between Brothers (Fox) delivered just as expected. "Bad show. Bad time slot. If there's any justice in television, it won't be around for long."
Built to Last (NBC) did indeed prove that "NBC isn't where viewers come for sappy family sitcoms."
C-16 (ABC) lived up (or is that down?) to expectations: "This is a perfectly adequate show, but it's nothing we haven't seen umpteen times before. And the (Saturday night) time slot means nearly certain failure." Actually, it meant certain failure.
Dellaventura (CBS) did have a pilot that was "downright terrible." And the forecast that it would "have to improve a lot if it wants to stick around for more than a few weeks" turned out to be right - it didn't improve, it did get yanked.
Dharma & Greg (ABC) turned out to be one of the season's few successes, just as (more-or-less) predicted: "If enough people sample this show, it could turn into a hit."
413 Hope St. (Fox), as anticipated, never was as good as it tried to be - and it never stood a chance opposite "Seinfeld."
Head Over Heels (UPN) was perhaps the worst of the shows to debut this past September. "It's hard to imagine anything this bad being the break-out hit UPN is looking for."
Hiller and Diller (ABC) was a show that did turn out to be "one really bad sitcom." And, "In addition to the fact that this is neither original nor funny, (Kevin) Nealon and (Richard) Lewis have to be two of the least likable, least talented actors on television. With any luck, this will be canceled quickly." It took months for the official cancellation, but this show was yanked off the air after a matter of weeks (for hiatus) and never made a dent in the ratings.
Hitz (UPN) was one of the two worst new shows last fall. "UPN has low expectations, but this show is just so awful it probably won't live up to them." It didn't.
Jenny (NBC) is one show I feel smug about. "The best thing you can say about `Jenny' is that it isn't as bad as you might expect. But it's still pretty bad. Where this mistaken impression that McCarthy has actual talent began is a mystery. Expect both this show and the one that precedes it, `Men Behaving Badly,' to go away before too long." And, mercifully, they did.
Nothing Sacred (ABC) did, as projected, turn out to be "the best new drama on any network this season" and "a really great show." Unfortunately, the rest of the prediction turned out to be true as well: "Too bad it's going to bomb in this ridiculous (Thursday at 7 p.m.) time slot."
Players (NBC) remained "silly fluff wrapped around violence." And there was no shock, as in, "It will be a shock if it succeeds."
Veronica's Closet (NBC) was "pretty much guaranteed to be a hit based solely on its time slot - between `Friends' and `ER.' " And that's how things turned out. But saying that "Closet" was "certainly the best to occupy this time slot since `Frasier' " speaks more to the string of losers NBC has had there than anything else.
The Visitor (Fox) was "an intriguing concept." But as it turns out, questioning "whether it can be sustained from week to week" was also accurate. It couldn't, and it got the ax.
The Wonderful World of Disney (ABC) did survive the "tough competition" and get itself renewed for next season.
The World's Funniest (Fox) did end up doing better than any of the failures Fox had previously tried in the time slot.