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Originally published September 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 30, 2005 at 9:38 AM

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Kay McFadden

You'll miss "Pasadena" — and soon, some others

Foiled again! Four years ago, a great nighttime soap opera called "Pasadena" debuted on Fox. Created by filmmaker Mike White and with a...

Seattle Times TV critic

Foiled again!

Four years ago, a great nighttime soap opera called "Pasadena" debuted on Fox. Created by filmmaker Mike White and with a cast headed by Dana Delany, it was dark, twisty, scandalous — a forerunner of "Desperate Housewives."

But the series was axed after just four episodes and despite many good reviews. Blame 9/11. Blame the Friday time slot. Blame Fox.

Usually, canceled shows are consigned to the dustbin of a critic's dreams. So I was thrilled when SOAPNet announced it had picked up "Pasadena" beginning this Saturday at 7 and 10 p.m. and even more so to learn that included are an additional nine, never-aired episodes.

SOAPNet general manager Deborah Blackwell said the series was on her radar for a long time: "Back when I was an agent with William Morris, one of my clients was Diane Keaton, who of course co-produced 'Pasadena' and directed the pilot episode."

Then my little soap bubble was burst. Comcast doesn't carry the 5-year-old SOAPNet in this market. You need Direct TV, where it's on the basic cable lineup.

Phooey. Besides "Pasadena," SOAPNet has other killed curiosities: "The Monroes"; Morgan Fairchild in "Paper Dolls"; and even "Skin," Jerry Bruckheimer's short-lived Romeo-and-Juliet epic featuring Ron Silver as a porn mogul.

Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp says the problem in part is the congressionally mandated digital conversion plan. Aha — I knew there'd be a government conspiracy at the bottom of this.

Kipp explained that Comcast must maintain an analog (old-school technology) channel plus a digital (new-school technology) channel for each station on the air until the conversion to digital is done a few years from now. The crowded spectrum means Comcast can only put something on if it takes something off.

Good, take something off and put SOAPNet on.

"SOAPNet is not in our short-term plans at present," says Kipp.

However, as if to demonstrate that such swap-outs do occur, Comcast this very weekend offers three new cable channels on its digital tier: Logo, Movieplex and Sprout.

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Logo is aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered audiences and is the first channel of its kind on Comcast in the Seattle-Tacoma region. Movieplex is a film channel scheduled with theme nights and taken from Encore's library.

And Sprout is the PBS channel featuring children's shows aimed at the under-6 set.

Exiting to make room are the arts and entertainment network Ovation; the movie service Encore East; and Wisdom TV, a new-age channel that was a surprising failure in the Pacific Northwest.

Apparently, nothing is forever on television with the possible exceptions of "Working Girl" and "Predator II," which seem to be airing at any given time on any given channel in the universe.

The lesson for viewers is carpe remote. If you love something, don't set it free — capture it on tape or disc. Despite DVDs, your dead favorite may not reappear in a handsome, shrink-wrapped box.

That brings us to a different sort of bubble.

With the cancellation of Fox's "Head Cases," fall has claimed its first victim among the new crop of shows. Others will follow. And a few old favorites are definitely waning.

Herewith, the endangered list based on the first full week of ratings from Nielsen Media Research:

"Sex, Love and Secrets," 9 p.m. Tuesdays, UPN. Virtually moribund on arrival, this would-be update of "Melrose Place" couldn't even scrape together 2 million viewers from its target demo.

"Twins," 8:30 p.m. Fridays, The WB. It's hard to get lower ratings than lead-in "What I Like About You," but this managed. Bye-bye, Melanie Griffith.

"Just Legal," 9 p.m. Mondays, The WB. On a related note, looks as if Don Johnson's return to TV may be fleeting. Why did The WB think this show would pair better with "7th Heaven" than "Everwood" did?

"Arrested Development," 8 p.m. Mondays, Fox. I'm going to cry. Outside of premium cable, this is television's smartest and most astringent comedy. It is the best show you're not watching.

"Kitchen Confidential," 8:30 p.m. Mondays, Fox. A collapsed soufflé.

"The Office," 9:30 Tuesdays, NBC. All the "Earl" in the world can't jack up interest in this tepid remake of the bracing BBC series. In the 9:30 race, Steve Carell and company finished a dismal fourth.

"Bernie Mac," 8 p.m. Fridays, Fox. Consigned with "Malcolm in the Middle" to an unenviable night of the week, "Bernie" did badly. Exactly what is the TGIF set watching on Fridays?

"Joey," 8 p.m. Thursdays, NBC. Beaten by UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris" and just about everybody else at 8 p.m. last week, the failure of "Joey" is the most emblematic of NBC's inability to create great TV anymore.

A few returning shows aren't yet on the bubble, but their starts presage vulnerability:

"Boston Legal," 10 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC. Viewership fell 28 percent from last year's debut. Creator David E. Kelley would blame the new time slot; but having "Commander In Chief" as lead-in should've helped.

"The West Wing," 8 p.m. Sundays, NBC. Also down quite a bit from its premiere last year and here, we definitely can blame the move to Sundays.

"The Apprentice," 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays, NBC. Martha was a flop in her debut; Donald Trump is so 2004. NBC should just re-launch its entire lineup and pretend midseason is the new fall.

"Veronica Mars," 9 p.m. Wednesdays, UPN. Call me nervous. It had a good debut, but I'm not sure all the critical championing can overcome being against "Lost."

Oh, so you want to know the winners? Go to www.zap2it.com/television/news/ratings.

Kay McFadden: kmcfadden@seattletimes.com

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