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‘Happy Hour’ comes to a temporary halt

Fox has pulled the comedy from this Thursday’s schedule, but insists the show will be back in November.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The sharks are circling around the first potential casualty of the new television season.

The folks at Bravo’s “Brilliant But Cancelled” Web site, which is running a sweepstakes asking viewers to guess which new television show will be the first this fall to bite the dust, have put an asterisk besides Fox’s “Happy Hour.”

Fox has pulled the comedy from this Thursday’s schedule, but insists the show will be back in November. Much of Fox’s prime time is pre-empted for the baseball playoffs and World Series in October.

Brilliantbutcancelled.com lists the show as on “life support.” Only 4.4 million people watched the show on Thursday, about a quarter of the audience for CBS’ “Survivor: Cook Island” and less than half of that for NBC’s “The Office” in the same time slot, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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Television executives are typically reluctant to say the word “canceled,” for fear of hurting feelings. “Hiatus” is a favored term, even if it is indefinite. The attention given to the process by Bravo’s game, where viewers set odds on a show’s survival week-to-week, may reinforce that habit.

“We want to be accurate,” said Nora Grudman, Bravo spokeswoman. “We’re not going to say a show is canceled when the network says the show is going to come back on.”

“Happy Hour” will be replaced on Fox Thursday by a rerun of the new comedy “‘Til Death.”

Opening week of fall’s television season was notable, analysts say, for the willingness viewers displayed to at least try out several new programs. During the next few weeks, they are likely to settle on favorites.