'Push' deserved shove from ABC

"Push" has fallen and it won't get up. Last week ABC gave "Push, Nevada" (8 p.m., ABC) the heave-ho. It will yank the quirky series after today's episode. The Friday night ABC time travel drama "That Was Then" earned the distinction of being the first outright cancellation of the year. Now there's only one time travel show left, "Do Over" (7:30 p.m., WB), about an unhappy 30-year-old who returns to the Reagan era to relive his teens. And that's one too many.

While some admired "Push" for its odd style and offbeat characters, I thought the show was too gimmicky and precious for its own good. It's also never a good sign when the "edgiest" new show of the season is a blatant imitation of "Twin Peaks," a drama from 1990. And I thought the notion of tying a contest and a cash prize to the drama seemed more desperate than innovative. It opened ABC to accusations that it was literally paying viewers to watch "Push." And now it's open to criticism that it couldn't even pay viewers to watch "Push." But I really knew "Push" was doomed when my wife walked in the room while I was screening it. She took one look at its washed-out photography and observed, "This is a show? I thought it was a beer commercial."

For what it's worth, viewers who have be collecting "Push" clues still will been able to compete for the $1 million-plus prize, to be awarded at the conclusion of the drama. Game rules can be found on abc.com.

The failures of "Push" and "Then" are more dark clouds for the struggling ABC. The network had just expressed great pleasure in picking up three new Tuesday night comedies ("Eight Simple Rules," "Life with Bonnie," and "Less than Perfect") for full seasons.

The fact that "Eight Simple Rules," about a father's travails with his two teenaged daughters, has become even a modest hit is proof to me that critics have absolutely no sway over television audiences. Mystified by the success of a show so smarmy, laugh-tracked and lame, I consulted some television oracles at my local hardware store. "Sure the show stinks," they assured me, using a word less printable than "stinks." "But those girls are hot!" So it seems John Ritter did learn something while make "Three's Company" all those years ago.

Tonight's other highlights

� A suspect claims that he was running a marathon at the time of an alleged murder on "Monk" (7 p.m., ABC).

� Murder strikes at a convention of little people on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

� The squad search for a woman whom nobody missed on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).

� Carter worries about Abby's drinking on "ER" (9 p.m., NBC).

� Scheduled on "Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC): an investigation of the unsolved "Zodiac Killer" case using new DNA technology.

Series notes

Elimination games on "Survivor: Thailand" (7 p.m., CBS) � Monica surprises Chandler in his Oklahoma hotel on "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC) � Sissy lands a part in the school play on "Family Affair" (7 p.m., WB).

Turk can't keep a secret on "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) � Joel relives a baseball game on "Do Over" (7:30 p.m., WB).

Karen and Jack try to make peace between friends on "Will & Grace" (8 p.m., NBC) � Jake goes house hunting on "Good Morning, Miami" (8:30 p.m., NBC) � Improvisation on "Jamie Kennedy Experiment" (8 p.m., WB).

Late night

Samuel L. Jackson and Santana appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) � Jay Leno greets Salma Hayek, Jason Stratham and Rod Stewart on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Sen. John McCain, Katie Holmes and Mike Lupica are booked on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

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