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Dead Pool '99: Oh, That Mike O'Malley


You can say this about Mike O'Malley: A month ago, nobody could pick him out of a police lineup. Now he's famous.

Sure, that's famous in the same sense the Edsel and the '64 Phillies and Crystal Pepsi are famous. Each one burst on to the scene with a bucketload of promise, a ton of potential and the promise that they were here to stay. And each one flamed out spectacularly, just seconds after the opening bell had sounded.

But hey... famous is famous. And up until last week, O'Malley was most well known for 30-second ad spots on a cable sports channel and drafting a 13-page memo to his staff, outlining his vision for The Mike O'Malley Show.

His apparent directive: Make my show as bland and derivative as possible.

In case you missed it, NBC pulled the plug on The Mike O'Malley Show, sending its eponymous star back to the obscurity from whence he came. By bowing out after just two disastrous showings, Mike O'Malley joins the ranks of E.A.R.T.H. Force, Built To Last, South of Sunset and a thousand other forgettable projects -- many starring Lori Petty -- that came, that saw, and that quickly disappeared without much of a struggle.

This marks the second time in as many years that network executives have plucked a stand-up comic out of obscurity, handed him the keys to the Buick and then watched aghast as he plowed headlong into a fruit cart. Last year, the unlucky victim was Sue Costello, who, like O'Malley in this go-round, seemingly did little to merit her own sitcom other than pay her taxes on time or be the 10,000th shopper at the Vons in Van Nuys.

You'd like to think that two stand-up comics, two colossal failures would clue the networks in as to which way America was leaning on this vital issue. But what do you want to bet that right now as I type this sentence, some sitcom development executive over at Fox is talking up a pilot starring Gallagher as an out-of-work actor who lands a job at a day-care center?

Who TeeVee readers picked as the first show to get cancelled (first place votes in parentheses).

1. Shasta McNasty (10)
2. Oh Grow Up (8)
3. The Mike O'Malley Show (2)
4. Manchester Prep (5)
5. Get Real (3)
6. Love & Money
7. Safe Harbor (3)
8. The Strip (2)
8. Ladies Man (2)
10. Family Law (3)
10. Then Came You (2) And that's when the wackiness would begin.

But until then, we say: so long, Mike O'Malley. Your show may have been canceled before Harsh Realm, Time of Your Life and The Strip even had a chance to debut. You may have been waxed before the premiere dates of Malcolm in the Middle, Then Came You and Manchester Prep have even been set. And you may have even beat the woeful Shasta McNasty to the chopping block. But at least you have those ESPN commercials to fall back on. And maybe some suit over at UPN can be convinced to turn that into a series...

These are all very important issues, ones that no doubt will consume our every waking moment. But right now, there's a far more important question raised by the sudden and brutal cancellation of The Mike O'Malley Show.

What's in it for me?

Besides the dozens of laugh-starved Americans who tuned in Mike O'Malley only to be left wanting, two people can take special pleasure in the show's quick demise. TeeVee readers Juliana Duffy and Shawn McFarlane both pegged the laughless sitcom for a nearly instantaneous death. And that locks the two of them into an early tie for the lead in our annual Dead Pool, their fates at the mercy of Oh Grow Up, Odd Man Out, Love & Money and Mission Hill. Remember, you two, we want a fair fight. No biting or gouging. Unless, you know, that's your thing.

Ten other readers also had Mike O'Malley among the first three shows to get canned. But, barring a European Ryder Cup team-style collapse by our two front runners, Sara Bibel, Ian Whitney, James Callan, et. al., must content themselves to know only the thrill of competition, if not the taste of victory.

And hey, things could always be worse. NBC could have tapped you for a sitcom.


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