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Friday Night Lights Aren't Dimmed After All

Fans of NBC's exceptional "Friday Night Lights" got a scare from Sunday's TV Topics and Time Warner Cable's channel guide when the service that provides those listings had a locally-sponsored golf show  listed in the place of "Lights" this Friday on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliiate. 

I received two emails complaining about it Sunday night. 

But have no fear, "Lights" will be on at 9 p.m. Friday on Channel 2 after all.

"We know 'Friday Night Lights has a very loyal audience," said Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner. "It is one of NBC's best quality shows. We would never pre-empt that."

Instead, Channel 2 is pre-empting two episodes of the Howie Mandel reality series, "Howie Do It," that start at 8 p.m. Friday. Those episodes will air at 3 a.m. Saturday.

I think this has been one of the best seasons of "Friday Night Lights," which unfortunately doesn't get the ratings it deserves. What do you think of the season so far?

-- Alan Pergament

Why Life on Mars Is Dying

My sister-in-law called me frantically this week with two questions: "'Are they really canceling 'Life on Mars?' Why do they always cancel shows I like?'"

The answer to the first question is yes, ABC has canceled the series, which was based on a popular BBC series about a police detective who was transported back in time to the 1970s.

The final episode, which ABC promises will explain what happened to Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara), will run  next Wednesday.

The answer to why "Life" is dying is the same as the answer to why the last show my sister-in-law loved, "Eli Stone," died. Bad ratings, nationally and locally despite an incredible cast that includes Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol.

Take the most recent episode Wednesday night, in which Tyler was set up on a murder charge and almost was convinced by the dirty cop who committed the crime to jump off the roof of a building to get back to 2008. It  finished fifth in its time slot here even though only three broadcast series air at 10 p.m.

"CSI: NY" on Channel 4 was first with a 12.4 rating. "Law & Order" on Channel 2 had a 7.3 rating. Channel 4's news on WNLO had a 6.7 rating. Reruns of "Seinfeld" and "Two and a Half Men" on Channel 29 had a 5.0 rating.

"Mars" on Channel 7 had a 4.5 rating, which means sadly only about 4.5 percent of area households were tuned in counting my sister-in-law.

What do you think of "Mars" and its cancellation?

-- Alan Pergament

C-Span is On the Move

If you're looking for C-Span today on Time Warner Cable, turn to Channel 96.

The channel, which carries Congressional and governmental meetings and public affairs programming, was moved from Channel 9 to make room for Time Warner's new 24-hour news channel, YNN as in Your News Now.

The new news channel, which has four anchors and nine reporters based in Buffalo, signs on at 7 tonight.

What do you think of Time Warner's decision to start a new 24-hour news channel? Will you watch it tonight?

-- Alan Pergament

Bills Monday Night Game Has Little Risk for ESPN

I wasn't so sure a few weeks ago that the Buffalo Bills signing of controversial superstar Terrell Owens would lead to more prime time exposure for the NFL team.

In fact, I doubted it because historically the league doesn't change its prime time plans for one player, who may be sidelined by the time the scheduled game is played.

That said, the decision to start the Bills season on ESPN's Monday Night Football Sept. 14 opposite the New England Patriots makes sense because of the lowered risk involved.

Since it is the Bills opener, they can't have a lousy record then that could turn off potential viewers. And since Owens isn't known for doing heavy lifting in the preseason, his chances of being injured should be substantially reduced as well.

Most importantly, the Bills really can be viewed as a secondary consideration to the Patriots, a storied franchise in recent years that will be welcoming back quarterback Tom Brady from last season's injury and who have their own superstar receiver in Randy Moss.

It is hard to say if the Bills-Pats game would have been part of the NFL's 50th annual celebration of the American Football League even if Owens wasn't involved. But his signing added to the game's attraction.

I've heard speculation on the radio that suggests the Bills could get as many as three prime time appearances because of the signing of Owens. I'm not buying it. There's just about no chance that they would make NBC's Sunday Night Football schedule, which favors winning teams from the year before.

I figure one more game on Monday night or a game on the NFL Network prime time package would be about right.What do you think?

-- Alan Pergament

Desperate Times for Nicollette Sheridan Fans

One of the reasons I hate it when the exit of TV stars from series is announced is that it can ruin the suspense involving their characters.

Take Sunday's episode of "Desperate Housewives," which ABC's promoted as containing a story line that would lead to the death of one character. 

Since the exit of Nicollette Sheridan, who plays Edie Britt, has already been announced it was asummed that her character would die in what has been one of the series' best recent seasons..

Sure enough, after almost being choked to death by her mentally-ill husband, Dave (Neal McDonough), Edie escaped, hopped in her car and crashed into a tree after spotting Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan) in the middle of the road. Orson, who has become a petty thief, was there after his most recent burglary escapade.

In the final scene, Edie's hand moved, which suggests she may be alive at least until the next episode, The show then flashed a "to be continued" line.

Do you think she's dead? Do you care? And what do you think of "Desperate Housewives," which remains Sunday's most popular series locally and nationally?

-- Alan Pergament 

President Gives Leno a Boost

At the close of his extended interview with President Obama Thursday night, "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno said: "Mr. President, I must say this has been one of the best nights of my life."

It certainly was ratings-wise in Western New York. The NBC program had a 12.9 rating on Channel 2, which the station would die for in prime time. The 12.9 rating means 12.9 percent of the households in Western New York were tuned in after midnight.

The President's taped appearance played opposite live coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on CBS. I'm guessing America's First Fan probably would have preferred watching basketball to watching himself.

The rating here may speak to the President's popularity because he certainly didn't make much news in discussing the economy and other pressing issues facing the nation. If his goal was to be reassuring, he managed that.

Ironically enough, the President made some unfortunate news later in the soft interview when Leno asked him some  personal questions.

After Leno wrongly assumed that the President's limited bowling skills displayed during the campaign meant the bowling alley in the White House had been burned or closed down, the President said it hadn't been and he recently bowled a 129.

That led to praise from Leno and applause from the audience that almost drowned out a presidential statement that "it is like the Special Olympics or something."

There was no negative reaction from the audience or Leno for the inappropriate and insensitive remark, which the President apologized for today.

It isn't the first time that he's had to apologize for saying something insensitive. But he has such a winning attitude and self-deprecating comic style that he's been easily forgiven in the past. That said, if the President keeps this up, maybe "Saturday Night Live" will have enough ammunition to do a skit involving him that is actually funny.

What did you think of the President's performance on Leno's show? What did you think of Leno's questions?

-- Alan Pergament

Nothing But (HD)Net for UB Game

I received an interesting email today from a University at Buffalo fan asking how he could see tonight's College Basketball Invitational game with host Wichita State on HD Net.

Good question.

Needless to say, HD Net isn't as easily available as one of the ESPNs on your cable system.

It's a high definition channel that is part of Time Warner Cable's HD premium tier. In other words, it isn't one of TWC's free high definition channels. You have to pay extra to get it.

My guess is that is means that the percentage of people here who get it is considerably lower than UB's chances of winning the tournament. And I'm not thinking that's likely, either.

-- Alan Pergament

Two Cheers for Time Warner

Everyone wants to beat up on cable companies like Time Warner.

Hey, I do it often myself.

But there are a couple of reasons to cheer the Buffalo system now.

My column today is about Prime Time on Demand, which enables subscribers to watch marathons of popular NBC, CBS, FX and USA Network series at their own convenience on Channel 1005.

It's a terrific feature. If you've tried it, tell me what you think of it.

And now comes word that Time Warner will allow all digital customers to watch CBS College Sports on Channel 130 during the upcoming NCAA men's basketball tournament. The channel, which Time Warner put on Channel 4's cable slot during its negotiations with LIN TV last fall, has been on a sports tier since Channel 4 got its slot back.

CBS College Sports will have extensive coverage of the NCAA tournament and will carry two games, including top-seeded Louisville's opener Friday night.

I'm sure these new wrinkles will not satisfy cable detractors, but it feels good to say something nice about cable occasionally.

-- Alan Pergament

Terrell Puts on a VH1 Show

Good idea or bad idea?

I'm not talking about the Buffalo Bills signing of controversial NFL star Terrell Owens after he was let go by the Dallas Cowboys.

I'm talking about VH1's decision earlier this year to do a reality show with Owens that will primarily focus on his off-the-field adventures.

Before the Bills signed him, I doubt too many people here would have been interested in the show, tentatively titled "Playing the Field."

But now that some of it will be filmed here, it could be a local prime time hit.

Since Tom Calderone, the Buffalo State College graduate who is president of VH1, is a huge fan of Buffalo and the Bills it is hard to imagine that the series will damage the reputation of the team or the city. It may even make the city and the team look good.

What do you think of the idea of the Owens series? Do you plan to watch it? Or are you already sick of all things T.O. before he's played his first game here.

-- Alan Pergament

Rude, Man, Really Rude

We're used to seeing TV anchors being treated with respect out in the world.

But that's not always how it turns out -- especially in angry, stressed and contentious times like these.

Case in point: Ch. 4's Jacquie Walker was the designated moderator for Gov. David Patterson's town meeting with some angry people in Niagara Falls. The event, therefore, was broadcast live on Ch. 4. When she first tried to ask Gov. Patterson a question, she was callously interrupted by an audience member who insisted everyone say the Pledge of Allegiance.

That done, she was steamrolled into silence yet again by a furious questioner at the microphone who ignored her attempts to talk in the most naked display of disrespect for a local sitting TV anchor I've ever seen. He just asked the governor his angry question and awaited a response.

It was only after the governor asked the crowd to let the event's moderator do her job that she was able to get back on track and do it.

You don't need to be a genius to figure out it means about the heat of emotions common at that Town Meeting. But does it mean anything about current audience relations with TV news anchors?

Frankly, I haven't the foggiest idea. Maybe someone else does -- and can enlighten us all.

--Jeff Simon

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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