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Q&A: Nov. 30

Question: Any word on when The Wire will debut on BET?
Bob Sturm

Answer: BET says that a "special sampling" of The Wire will run from Jan. 10-12 as an introduction to the under-appreciated HBO series. The "formal premiere," beginning with Season 1, is set for later in January, with a date still being determined.

Q&A: Nov. 29

Question: I thought Justice had promise. Is it gone forever?
Madeline Bereuter

Answer: On the contrary. Justice has been switched to Friday nights at 7 central, 8 eastern, beginning on Dec. 1. New episodes so far are scheduled for that night and for Dec. 8 and 15. I thought Justice was the strongest of Fox's new fall series, but this already will be its third different night. Expectations are low on Fridays, though, so maybe Justice finally will prevail.

Question: My husband and I enjoyed The Bernie Mac Show and thought it was a quality comedy. But we've finally decided it must have been canceled or Bernie Mac just decided he was done with it. What happened?
Lisa Bellah

Answer: Bernie Mac got jacked around more than most Fox shows before being canceled at the end of last season. It premiered in November, 2001 on Wednesdays at 8 central, 9 eastern, winning a Peabody Award in its first season. Then, in its second year, Fox inexplicably moved it up an hour to compete directly against ABC's My Wife and Kids, starring Damon Wayans. At the time they were the only two comedies on the four major networks with black leads. Bernie Mac lost that ratings fight and eventually was shuttled all over Fox's schedule, winding up on Fridays.

There was upheaval behind the scenes as well, with the star and the show's original executive producer clashing and eventually parting ways. Regardless, Bernie Mac should have lasted at least two or three more years than it did.

Question: I'm just wondering about Traveler and The Black Donnellys. We see clips on the sites, but all they say is "Coming soon." They both look interesting at least.
Maria Lowther

Answer: NBC's The Black Donnellys, created by Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis (Crash), originally was supposed to supplant ER in January, with the longrunning hospital drama then returning in the spring. But the Peacock changed plans when ER remained surprisingly strong in the ratings, particularly among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. Now Donnellys is awaiting a spring berth, NBC said Wednesday in announcing a revised midseason schedule.

Traveler, an ABC drama about innocents on the run, could premiere as early as January. But ABC still isn't saying where or when. Likely slots: Mondays or Wednesdays at 9 central, 10 eastern in place of either What About Brian or The Nine, which recently was put on hiatus.

Question: What has happened to Rescue Me? I haven't been able to find it since September. Was it canceled?

Answer: Nope. FX has ordered a 13-episode fourth season of Rescue Me. Tentative return date is the "second quarter" (April-June) of 2007, the network says.

Q&A: Nov. 28

Question: Do you happen to know what happened to Loriana Hernandez, former morning weekend anchor on Channel 5? She seems to have disappeared about three weeks ago.

Answer: Loriana recently was laid off by NBC Universal as part of the latest company-wide cost-cutting initiative. A staffer at NBC5 says she's "just trying to regroup right now."

Question: Any chance of Six Degrees starting back up again? I thought it was better than The Nine.
Jay Davis

Answer: Both Six Degrees and The Nine supposedly will return at some point next year after being put on hiatus by ABC. Their long-term prospects are dim, though. Serial dramas that don't click in the early going are seldom able to increase or even sustain their audiences after long-term absences. So far this season the only new serial to really make it big is NBC's Heroes, which in September was unclebarky.com's pick to be prime-time's sleeper hit of the season.

Question: I was wondering if Prison Break has improved in the local ratings over the last month. I thought the finale was pretty good (with the exception of the ludicrous Bellick murder story). Can't wait for it to return in January!
Mike Hawkins

Answer: Despite being filmed in North Texas for its entire second season, Prison Break continues to struggle in the D-FW Nielsens. It's doing appreciably better nationally, however, particularly with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.
For a look at how the PB fall finale did locally, go to the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page and check out Nov. 27th "Local Nielsen ratings snapshot."

Q&A: Nov. 27

Question: I'm a big Battlestar Galactica fan. Should I be happy or concerned about the move from Friday to Sunday?
Neil Brass

Answer: Battlestar Galactica indeed is moving, on Jan. 21. But Sunday is a higher-visibility night and BC will be positioned at 9 p.m. central (10 eastern) behind Sci Fi Channel's splashy new series The Dresden Files. Overall ratings for BC are down a bit this season, but parent company NBC Universal is touting the show's gains with advertiser-coveted younger viewers. Its median age is 1.6 years younger than last season, and the show is drawing 20 percent more women, 18-to-49. That's a good sign, given the way networks do business these days. So I wouldn't fret just yet.

Question: I wanted to ask you if there seem to be more TV cancellations than normal. I was a fan of Vanished and they just all of a sudden dropped that with four episodes left. Also, I started watching Smith when it started and they canceled that one after maybe two or three episodes. How can a show ever get an audience if it's going away after two episodes? The trouble is you get time invested in these shows and then the networks let you down.
Michael Snively

Answer: You're right, Michael, shows can come and go in a hurry. Smith for the record got three episodes before being axed. But CBS is burning off the remaining unaired hours on its website. As is NBC on its website with the canceled Kidnapped.

One of the problems is the preponderance of new serial dramas this season. If a show opens virtually DOA, it's unlikely to pick up many if any new viewers as the season wears on. Fox's Vanished likewise was a serial, and a very complex one at that. But you can still watch some of that show's episodes here.

The other side of this coin is NBC's commendable patience with two low-rated, critically acclaimed series, Friday Night Lights and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Both have been picked up for full seasons despite their mostly anemic Nielsen numbers. NBC also is hanging in there with the new 30 Rock, which recently was moved to Thursdays as part of a bravura comedy bloc that also includes My Name Is Earl, The Office and, beginning on Nov. 30, Scrubs.

One more thing. Networks now are quicker to plug in cheaper-to-produce "reality" hours whenever a more expensive scripted show falters. NBC's 1 vs 100, ABC's Show Me the Money and Fox's The Rich List are this fall's examples, although the latter was pulled after just one episode. In that context, Smith and Vanished seem like long-distance runners, even though you'll now have to hit the Web to find them.