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Sudden death

It's early bubble-bursting time in the network television business. Just one month into the new TV season, NBC has already canceled two shows, and other networks are sharpening the knives. On the upside, a few new series started strong, including the debut last week of David Kelley's
Boston Public

on Fox.

NBC Entertainment head Garth Ancier yanked Monday-night comedies


from his lineup after only three weeks.
Dateline NBC

is filling in.

"Unfortunately, the challenge for all of us who are involved in these things is, you have to make a call about a show that is creatively working even if the audience hasn't found it yet," says Ancier. "In the case of the Monday shows, we just didn't have the passion to hang in there that we do for our other work. In the case of
, it might just have been the right show on the wrong network. It might have worked better at Fox."

There are no other clear duds, but a handful of shows are definitely not the darlings of Madison Avenue. CBS' Thursday-night lineup of
48 Hours
City of Angels

Diagnosis Murder

is posting some really low demographic results up against NBC's "Must See TV" shows. So far this season,
City of Angels

has averaged a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49, while
Diagnosis Murder

has posted only a 1.6 rating in the key demo, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Diagnosis Murder

star Dick Van Dyke said last week he'll retire after this season; he may have little choice.

ABC's new Friday series
The Trouble With Normal

has averaged a 2.6 rating in adults 18-49 in three episodes, and its new Wednesday-night drama,
Gideon's Crossing
, has averaged only 8.7 million viewers and a 4.0 rating in adults 18-49. New comedy

averaged a 3.5 in adults 18-49 through its first few weeks.

At FOX, Friday-night drama

is the only new series at the network not meeting expectations. The Internet-based program has averaged only a 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.6 million viewers so far. On the positive side, two of Fox's three new dramas have come out fighting:
Boston Public

debuted with a strong 13.9 million viewers and 6.2/16 in adults 18-49 in its first episode (Oct. 23), and
Dark Angel

has helped turn Tuesday night around. "Fox never has a good fall. They go through fall without ever launching a new series, and everything almost always gets canceled," says Stacey Lynn Koerner, TN Media's VP of broadcast research. "So to have one new hit is something, but two is even better."

Probably the biggest surprise has been CBS' new Friday-night action series,

It has outshone its highly publicized lead-in
The Fugitive
averaging a 5.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 15.8 million viewers.

NBC's decision to move

to Tuesdays looked brilliant in its first outing. The hour season premiere brought NBC its best Tuesday-night ratings since the advent of Nielsen peoplemeters: 28.6 million viewers.
The Michael Richards Show

premiere held its own with 13.2 million viewers and a 5.9/17 in adults 18-49.