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Dead Pool 2001: The Readers Speak

We realize there are more weighty matters of concern right now then our fragile state of mind, but we Vidiots have been walking on eggshells ever since we resumed posting our regularly scheduled content a week or so ago. Yeah, we all have to return to our daily routine. And sure, the President has urged the country's institutions and diversions to get back up and running -- we are pretty sure he wasn't thinking of us specifically -- but still, it's difficult, especially when your stock and trade is mockery.

Our Web site is, more or less, powered by malice -- joyous, life-affirming malice, to be sure, but malice nevertheless. We exist largely to have ourselves a spiteful little laugh at the expense of TV, sometimes to praise shows and the creative folks behind them, but most of the time to kick sand in the face of an industry that really ought to know better by now. We figure that most of readers gladly accept this -- you ain't surfing to this part of the Web for sober contemplation, that's for sure. But in an age where late-night talk show hosts are the voices of reason and compassion and Fred Durst -- Fred freakin' Durst -- comes across as a selfless humanitarian, it feels weird for us to be doing our normal shtick.

So we've had some internal discussion within TeeVee this past week about what to do. Should we continue with business as usual, posting the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm you've come to expect from us, the way hillbillies churn out moonshine? Or do we tone it down a bit -- or turn it off altogether?

Finally, one of us stood up, pounded his fist on the table and spoke the bold, empowering words that we could all rally behind -- the hell with it. Let's just turn things over to our readers and let them take the heat. Then, by comparison, we'll come off like models of restraint and sobriety.

Not convinced that there's someone out there who could make us look nice? Then obviously, you don't get our mail -- specifically, the entry forms for our annual contest to pick the first shows that will be canceled.

Our readers are a rough-and-tumble lot. They give no quarter and ask for none in return. They make the Los Angeles Rams' Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1970s look like a bunch of flower-picking sissies who go around singing about how it's OK to cry -- all four of them, and not just Merlin Olsen and Rosey Grier. Our readers are vicious, biting and never ones to let a good put-down go unuttered.

We couldn't be more proud.

It's not every Web site, after all, that has readers like Paul Freitag tab Wolf Lake as the first show to fade into the night with this piercing analysis: "Delayed. Retooled. Lou Diamond Phillips. All bad signs. This will burn out quicker than Nightmare Cafe." Even fewer Web sites can boast of a reader like Charles Pavlack predicting an October 7 cancellation date for Raising Dad while adding, "I shudder to think that Bob Saget will actually last that long." And who but us would have a reader like Angela Zabel select as her top banishment pick One on One, "which I didn't even realize was showing or ever conceived."

Yes, we are mighty lucky to have readers like you.

Emeril Lagasse, however, may not be feeling so charitable. Because if our readers have anything to say about it, everyone's favorite TV Chef, non-Julia Child division, will soon be thanking his lucky stars that he has that Food Network gig to fall back on. Emeril, the NBC sitcom about a lovable TV chef, is the runaway favorite among our readers to go the way of the dinosaur double-quick. Among TV Dead Pool entries, Emeril received a staggering 15 first-place votes, more than enough to push it far ahead of runner-up Wolf Lake -- which, with 12 first-place votes of its own, is no slouch in the marked-for-banishment department.

So, tell us, folks, how has Emeril Lagasse ever wronged you? "This guy makes Magic Johnson look like Johnny Carson," sniffs DW Macaulay. And Magic had Worthy and Kareem to dish off to, we might add -- Emeril has Robert Urich.

"Even Iron Chef couldn't make something out of this one," snorts Richard Collumb. No -- but we're guessing the costumes would at least be flashier.

"Sitcoms founded on a person rather than a concept always seem to blow the hardest," says reader Cheryl Lightfoot, who actually picked Emeril to leave the airwaves second, just behind The Ellen Show, but just ahead of Bob Patterson. We have no idea what it portends for Ellen DeGeneres' nascent comeback plans that some TeeVee readers believe a TV chef whose previous acting experience entailed shouting "Bam!" with differing levels of enthusiasm stands a better chance of survival than does an accomplished comedian. All the same, we advise Ms. DeGeneres to invest wisely.

Not that the TeeVee Dead Pool is the most scientific indicator of a show's fortunes. Reader McCutcheon Thomason has no idea what's going to be canceled, "so I'm choosing shows that look like they deserve to be canceled." For those who are interested, that translates to What About Jim, Wolf Lake, and the poor, put-upon Emeril. Reader Donal O'Carroll didn't even bother with trifles like "deserve" -- "This is more or less blind guessing since I don't get American stations, and I'm too lazy to do research on the Internet."

Donal, there's a job waiting for you fact-checking David E. Kelley scripts.

Paul Sebert came up with an ingenious method for selecting Maybe It's Me as the show most likely to wind up in the dustbin. "Solely because of the title," Paul says. "Even though I haven't seen it yet, and know nothing of the cast. Not since Fox's 'Too Something' has a show's title screamed 'cancel me' this loudly."

You all remember Too Something, right? Paul's point exactly, we're guessing.

No reader was more succinct than Louise Howard in her assessment of the fall season. "1. Reba -- The curse of the famous name. 2. Emeril -- The curse of the almost-famous name. 3. Inside Schwartz -- The curse of Herman's Head."

Louise, there's a job waiting for you at TeeVee as soon as finish changing the locks on Boychuk's office.

Not every reader felt obligated to send in explanations for their Dead Pool picks. Some resorted to subtle toadying and outright bribery. Tom Parnarese sent in a list of five shows -- two more than our actual rules require, by the way -- and then heaped lavish praise upon us and our loved ones. "How much and how far will flattery get me?" Tom wondered. Not nearly so much and not nearly so far as reading the instructions correctly, Tom. And Sean Sandquist, whose finished out of the running in our contest so often that Susan Lucci is sending sympathy cards, capped off his selections by concluding, "Here's hoping for better than a crappy honorable mention this year."

How's about a mention in the final paragraph of a crappy article, Sean? Will that do? No?

Ah well.


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