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'Pushing Daisies' is now pushing daisies as the network bloodbath continues

In the television equivalent of a baby-seal hunt, network executives have been running amok through their offices the past week, clubbing the brains out of their own shows. First NBC canceled My Own Worst Enemy -- the only one of its fall shows with even a hint of intelligence -- and Lipstick Jungle, a holdover from last year's abortive season. Now The CW has dumped its entire brand-new Sunday-night lineup (In Harm's Way, Valentine and Easy Money). And there's a report that ABC has killed off Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money, all introduced last season.

The most interesting development was The CW's Sunday-night purge. The desperate network had in effect rented out Sunday night to a studio, Media Rights Capital, which was programming nothing but its own shows. They weren't bad -- particularly Easy Money, a grim drama about economic desolation that was a sort of millennial version of The Grapes of Wrath -- but they were wildly incompatible with The CW's self-branding as the network for teenage girls.

As the predictably awful ratings for the Sunday-night lineup rolled in while The CW's own shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 gained strength, the network got increasing nervous about the deal it had struck. Thursday it canceled not just the Sunday-night shows, but the whole contract with Media Rights Capital -- and did it with an exclamation point, buying reruns of Jericho (canceled last season) and The Drew Carey Show (off the air since 2004, when ABC used it as a summer burn-off) to fill its air time. In other words, The CW prefers dessicated corpses to shows from Media Rights Capital.

DaisiesABC's cancellations, reported by E Online's TV ace Kristin Dos Santos, are not entirely confirmed. Pushing Daisies executive producer Bryan Fuller says his show has been axed, but nobody has gone on the record yet about Eli Stone or Dirty Sexy Money. Ratings have been poor for all three, though; apparently audiences just want to forget about last year's television season and the strike that cut it short. How many more shows have to be canceled before the studios and the Screen Actors Guild, still wrangling over a new contract and making threatening noises at one another, figure out that another strike would be poisonous for the whole industry?


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So, Knight Rider gets a full season while Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies are cancelled. Two of the three shows mentioned - not Knight Rider - are just too smart for the room. They have fun with language, they create their own little worlds a little too convincingly for the knuckle scrapers. They even make you think and maybe even feel something other than revulsion.
Too smart for the room. Too smart for broadcast. Hopefully not too smart for cable. AMC, are you paying attention?

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