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Dead Pool 2001: Oh "Danny" Boy

Danny, CBS's new Friday night sitcom starring Daniel Stern, is... um... really something. It's about this guy who works at this place and he has kids... possibly. And they say stuff. Daniel Stern plays the guy, I think. Or one of the kids. His character is named Danny, though no one's been able to confirm this. And the show is just really, really, really... something.

Oh, hell. I didn't watch Danny. Nobody here watched Danny. And now Danny is canceled.

Think about it, won't you?

It's not important which Vidiot plumb forgot to watch the only two episodes of Danny that will ever see the unforgiving light of day. Jason Snell probably feels bad enough without me pointing out his irresponsibility and obvious lack of professionalism. But in his defense, it's not like any of you made much of an effort to seek out Danny. So who are you to judge?

So it's no wonder that CBS cracked open the Nielsen books last week, saw a crater on its Friday night lineup that would rival anything you'd find in the Sea of Tranquility and decided that someone somewhere had to pay. And when Daniel Stern drew the short straw, that, as they say, was that. All that remained to be done was to draw up the severance check and dig out the Yes, Dear reruns to plug the newly created 30-minute gap in the schedule.

Not that Danny's fate should be much of a surprise to anyone. Going by the descriptions in the newspapers -- since, you know, we have no empirical evidence to go by -- Danny was about a newly divorced parent who balanced the demands of fatherhood with his job down at the local community center. Sound like something for which you're going to clear off your Friday night schedule, cancel all appointments and disconnect the phone? Before you answer, consider that we couldn't be bothered to do that, and we supposedly make a living at this sort of thing.

Another clue that Danny wasn't long for this or any other world? The show's working title -- before hitching its wagon to the star power of the Daniel Stern brand name -- was American Wreck. Presumably, producers settled on this only after realizing that Title That Can Be Dredged Up and Used to Mock Us Once We're Inevitably Canceled was too large to fit on one screen.

Then again, what was Danny's real crime? Having a banal, uninspiring premise? Repeating the same tired formula that sitcoms have trotted out year after year? Confusing the presence of a high-profile star with a solid idea for a show? Well, a dozen of the new shows to appear on the fall schedule -- maybe even two dozen -- have made those same mistakes. Emeril, Bob Patterson, Reba -- these are all terrible shows, probably worse than anything Daniel Stern and company could dream up on a dare. And yet, it's Danny we're now referring to in the past tense. The question shouldn't be why it was the first show to tumble off the cliff this fall, but why other programs that were just as tepid -- or worse -- didn't immediately do half-gainers of their own into the abyss.

Still, Danny's loss is other people's gain -- specifically, a gain for David MacDonald and Bryan Harris. Of the 50 or so TeeVee readers to enter our annual Dead Pool, MacDonald and Harris were the only two to correctly pick Danny as the first show to get disappeared, South American-dictator-style. MacDonald even pulled off the rather impressive feat of tabbing Danny for an October 7th cancellation, one day before it actually happened. Maybe David MacDonald ends up winning this thing, maybe he doesn't, but in the meantime, we have a couple of tech stocks we'd like to get his thoughts on.

With MacDonald and Harris enjoying a commanding lead, the 2001 Dead Pool will come down to whether their second and third choices quickly join Danny in the TeeVee boneyard -- The Guardian and Pasadena for MacDonald, According to Jim and UC: Undercover for Harris. Not that we're handicapping the race at this point, but the last person to count on Jon Seda to save his bacon was Homicide producer Tom Fontana, and we all know how that worked out.

Other TeeVee readers were at least savvy enough to take one look at Danny and know that it wasn't long for this world. Larry Lerner, Richard Collumb, David Hall, Carlton Swift, Paul Sebert, Tom Parnese, Michael Bastedo and the strangely named Powderduck all picked Danny to be canceled second or third this fall -- good enough to earn our admiration and hearty congratulations for their insight and cleverness. Which frankly sounds nicer than saying they win dick, although either statement would be equally accurate.

Still, those readers -- even Powderduck -- can take comfort that they don't find themselves in the same sorry boat as Jon Delfin, a TeeVee reader who clearly needs to get his priorities straight when it comes to the meaningless online contests he enters.

I'd had Danny canceled on 10/7 (my birthday, it being a Sunday notwithstanding) in the Zap2it Dead Pool. That would be the Dead Pool that was canceled itself after 9/11. Would that I had been clever enough to enter the same bid with you. But I don't think I was. Unless I was and I forgot.

You weren't and you did, Jon. Serves you right for wasting your time at Web sites that actually watch all the new shows.


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