Hits and misses

December 05, 1998|By David Zurawik

Even a bad television season has its moments. Here are some of the best and worst at the halfway mark:

The oldest show dying the slowest death: "Mad About You." Last year, we told them to ditch the baby. But did they listen? Nooooooo. It has been sinking in the ratings almost since the day the kid left the hospital.

The most promising new sitcom: This isn't saying much given the current crop, but ABC's "Sports Night" is starting to build a following. I still hate the fact that it is ABC and Disney celebrating the sports-channel culture they own with their ESPN holdings, but it has style and clever writing. Here's to vertical integration.

Best movie or miniseries: No competition. "The Temptations" on NBC -- even if they did lie about David Ruffin's mom.

Best dramatic moment: The "NYPD Blue" episode with the death of Bobby Simone.

Best news or nonfiction moment: David Sutherland's stunning documentary, "The Farmer's Wife," on PBS.

Most important moment culturally: I hate to say it, but I fear it came on "60 Minutes" last month when Dr. Jack Kevorkian and executive producer Don Hewitt gave us our first moment of death in prime time.

Worst series: I said it in September and I say it again: "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer." The stunning thing is that no one at UPN raised a flag on this turkey before it hit the airwaves.

Most missed performer: Andre Braugher.

Most dangerous development: The success CBS is having on Saturdays with its excessively violent lineup of "Martial Law" and "Walker, Texas Ranger." Violence that wins viewers always begets more violence in the imitative world of prime-time programming.

The worst scheduling move: "King of the Hill" from Sunday to Tuesday in one of the most competitive time slots on television. The result: The series plunged from 26th to 89th in the ratings. Way to go, Rupert.

Pub Date: 12/05/98

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