Root for oddballs and get only grief

Kate Walsh of ABC's "Private Practice": It's not on the schedule and the future looks cloudy. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / Associated Press
Kate Walsh of ABC's "Private Practice": It's not on the schedule and the future looks cloudy. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / Associated Press
Posted: April 07, 2012

You bring it on yourself, you know. You could just run with the herd. Watch the same shows everyone else does: NCIS, Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and the like. Then you'd be sitting back right now, confident in another year of uninterrupted entertainment.

But nooooooooooo. You pride yourself on being just a little bit different. You seek out those broadcast shows that Nielsen couldn't find with a Geiger counter.

And as a result you spend this time of year on tenterhooks (not sure what those are, but they sound painful) waiting to see if your quirky little series has been granted another year.

Frequently you engage in quixotic campaigns, mailing totemic items from the show to the network bosses just to prove how devoted the program's fans are. Hey, if it makes you feel better, go for it.

But do you really think there's an executive at CBS who takes a call from the mailroom and says, "What? We got how many toy piñatas? That cinches it. Call the producers of Rob! and tell them I've changed my mind. They're getting renewed after all!"? If you do, I have a plush Terra Nova dinosaur I'd like to sell you.

You can't affect the decision because it's not determined by reason or logic or passion or even numbers. Series renewal is sort of like college admissions: If you're in the top 2 percent of your class, you're good. After that, it's a total crapshoot.

Unless of course, you're on CBS, which is bringing back virtually its entire slate. (Except, we hope and pray, Rules of Engagement, the Rasputin of prime time, which simply will not die.)

ABC is more typical. The future of Private Practice is cloudy. It's never good when you're not on the schedule in April. But Suburgatory looks like a lock? Come on, man!

On NBC, Smash has already been picked up for next season, a reward for getting more unwatchable each week, no doubt. But Parenthood and Parks and Recreation, two of the better series on TV, are fighting for their lives. And that makes sense because ...?

As for Fox, well, I wish you'd keep Fringe going, but I'm not going to shave my head, dress like a Watcher and stand outside your corporate headquarters hoping to persuade you. Alcatraz? You're on your own. I'm not handcuffing myself to anything.

You want a sure thing, watch cable. Series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead seem to have been renewed before the credits stopped rolling. Starz topped that. It announced second seasons for Magic City and Boss before the first episodes had even aired. Because there's nothing a viewer hates worse than a September-May romance.??Kissing cousins. PBS is usually out of step with these tabloid times. You rarely see the host of Antiques Roadshow on TMZ misbehaving outside a club. But the most patrician of channels thought it had something juicy on this weekend's Finding Your Roots. The genealogy show leaked the fact that, based on DNA study, subject Kyra Sedgwick is related to her husband Kevin Bacon. Said the show's host, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., "They are, indeed, distant cousins. So, talk about six degrees of separation, right?"

But the revelation hardly created a stir. Maybe that's because Sedgwick had already spilled the beans. Talked about Finding Your Roots' discovery on The Late Show With David Letterman. Eight months ago.

Poor PBS. Even its gossip is musty.

Music interpretation. The bank of TVs at my gym all run with closed captioning. I was surprised on Monday night to see during the cowbell-crazy opening theme of Two Broke Girls this caption: "". I immediately looked over to the ABC feed to see if Dancing With the Stars read: "" but they were busy just trying to keep up with Tom Bergeron.

Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.

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