Where do TV characters go when their shows die?

Where do TV characters go when their shows die?

One moment, they're living their lives in weekly spurts of 22 or 48 minutes. Then ... POOF! ... they're gone, often with so much more to say and no place to say it.

Unless, of course, they wind up in endless reruns ... where they say the same things over and over and over again. Like cable news commentators. Or friends from high school who view you in some sort of time warp in which you are always 17 years old, incapable of change.

Our television families are much the same way. We invite them into the house for a few weeks ("Better Off Ted"), a few years ("Cold Case") or even a couple of decades ("Law & Order"). And then they leave, and we never find out what happens next.

Unless they plan a movie version ("24") or get picked up by another network ("Ghost Whisperer") or live forever through fan conventions, fan fiction and endless debates over what actually did and did not happen ("Lost").

A few dozen shows officially had their stories come to an end this past week, as the networks pulled the plug and announced bright and shiny new shows to replace them.

We'll be getting to those next week, which gives the networks plenty of time to change their minds.

Now, however, it's time to say good-bye, farewell and amen to some of those who are now but wayward signals floating through the cosmos.

ABC

Better Off Ted: Unluck is the series that keeps changing time slots and being yanked from the schedule. It was well-written and fast-paced; but its tale of corporate shenanigans likely didn't play well among viewers sitting at home after a long day of looking for work.

The Deep End: Young lawyers in lust in Los Angeles ... what wasn't to love? Well, for starters, young lawyers in lust in Los Angeles.

FlashForward: A failure that might signal something deeper. Namely, that you can get people to become involved in a deeply convoluted world of intrigue only so often ... and "Lost" and "Fringe" had the market cornered.

The Forgotten: Just your average team of misfits tracking down the identification of unclaimed dead people. More upbeat than "Cold Case," but that's like saying David Caruso is less of a ham than William Shatner.

Lost: Ending on its own terms, in its own timelines. Well, we think it's ending. "Lost: The Sideways Story" is always out there as a possibility.

Romantically Challenged: Alyssa Milano's attempt to find a comedy than merged "Friends" with "Cougar Town." She'll be back ... in, with any luck, a better show.

Scrubs: A show loved by its fans and shrugged away by the rest of us, it's change of networks just didn't work out. It rarely does (see "Taxi").

Ugly Betty: here's a tip ... when the premise of your show is in your title, don't decide to do a 180-degree spin on your lead character. Making Betty the subject of multiple suitors, instead of the awkward striver we cared about, was a fatal mistake.

CBS

Accidentally on Purpose: Watched this once. Accidentally. Didn't watch again. On purpose.

Cold Case: The format finally did in this show, which was compelling early on, but faded with repetitiveness with its reliance on mood-setting rock classics and apparitions. It'll be a staple in reruns.

Gary Unmarried: I have nothing to say about this one. It's been on sporadically since 2008 and I never watched a single moment of a single episode.

Ghost Whisperer: Rumored to be headed for a mid-season pickup at ABC, this lost the battle among the talk-to-the-dead bubble shows to "Medium." That must've been some coin flip.

Miami Medical: It was about a hospital. In Miami. The one in Florida; although a show set in Miami, Ohio, would be a lot more interesting.

New Adventures of Old Christine: Of all the shows on this list, i find this to be the biggest surprise. How this Julia Louis Dreyfus series got dumped while "Rules of Engement" survives is mind-boggling.

Numb3rs: Another solid procedural show headed to rerun status. Star Rob Morrow is set to play a lawyer in a new show for ABC, completing the triple crown after playing this FBI agent and a doctor on "Northern Exposure."

Three Rivers: I had to Google this one ... so that's not a good sign.

CW

Melrose Place: I don't understand the fascination with remakes of old series. And I won't next fall when "Hawaii Five-0" starts, either.

FOX

24: Jack Bauer doesn't get cancelled; he just gets too big for television. A "24" movie is in the works, as long as he doesn't blow up the world in the series finale Monday. Maybe even if he does.

Brothers: Former NFL star Michael Strahan in a sitcom about a former NFL star. Perhaps the premise seemed too unbelievable.

Dollhouse: Eliza Dushku is one of those actresses you expect to see appear on the TV schedule time and again. She's like Alyssa Milano in that regard ... although one who projects severe psychological turmoil.

Past Life: The events of our previous existences are key to solving mysteries ... mysteries such as why this show existed in our present life.

'Til Death: Brad Garrett can be funny in limited doses. Being in nearly every scene of this sitcom, made us wish Ray Romano would walk in the door and tell him to be quiet.

NBC

Heroes: there once was a series called "Murder One," which started its season with a killing and ended with the conclusion of the trial and the solving of the mystery. It was a great series ... for one year. Then it had nowehere to go. "Heroes" was like that. It's first year was terrific, as several average folks discovered they had strange powers. Once they started to use them, and fight the Big Evil, the show lost its sense of fun.

Law & Order: What can you say? It lasted 20 years. There's a slim chance TNT will pick up either a limited run, or a series of two-hour movies. The original is still the best, even in perpetual syndication.

Mercy: NBC has been trying for years to find a medical show that blended the rush of "ER" and the soapsuds of "Grey's Anatomy." This wasn't it.

Trauma: NBC has been trying for years to find a medical show that blended the rush of "ER" and the soapsuds of "Grey's Anatomy." This wasn't it, either.

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Last week, we wrote about the new Paul Reiser show called "Next," which would be an autobiographical comedic look at Paul Reiser, saying the show would be on NBC's fall schedule.

We heard from a casting agent connected from the series (which, as you might imagine, stunned the heck out of us ... I mean, people actually read this?) who said that the show hadn't yet been picked up.

As I type this, "Next" has been renamed (according to NBC's website) "The Paul Reiser Show and is (according to news reports) slated to join the network at some point during the season.

To be continued ...

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin writes about television for Tempo. He can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com