Friday night slots prove a dicey venture

I am a critic, not a soothsayer, so I don't make predictions. But if I did, I would never have put money on the survival or success of the freshman drama "Hack" (8 p.m., CBS). In tonight's season finale, Mike is still wrestling with his feelings about his ex-partner, Marcellus (Andre Braugher). Will Mike take the fall for a pal who may turn out to be crooked? Bebe Neuwirth returns in her role as Faith O'Connor for this season-ender.

Before we close the book on "Hack," let us bow our heads and reflect on this season's Friday night offerings that have fallen by the ratings wayside.

Fox invited "Buffy" creator Josh Whedon to create an alternative universe with his space western "Firefly," but not enough viewers thought it was worth watching. ABC tried to cash in on 1980s nostalgia with "That Was Then," but that show proved about as popular as an Air Supply revival. The WB's back-to-the-future comedy "Do Over" didn't last, either. Tom Sizemore brought a palpable intensity to the CBS drama "Robbery Homicide Division," but it turned out to be just another DOA in L.A. And let's not forget "Regular Joe," the ABC midseason replacement starring Daniel Stern. It may not have been canceled yet, but it has been shelved for the foreseeable future.

  • Jessica Lange made her screen debut in the 1976 remake of "King Kong" (7 p.m., AMC) produced by Dino De Laurentiis. But the real stars of this tacky disaster film are the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, where the monster meets his doom amid crashing jets, exploding helicopters and machine-gun fire.

Given the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is it in bad taste to air this movie? Will it be painful to watch? Just what were they thinking at AMC when they decided to add this film to their May schedule?

Hey, I never want to be known as hypersensitive, or worse, a spokesman for "good taste." But this seems beyond the pale. I invited a spokesperson from the network to discuss the decision, but no one came forward with an explanation or excuse. That ticks me off.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Guest-judge Lance Bass joins host Mario Lopez on the two-hour finale of "America's Most Talented Kid" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Martin Lawrence stars as a cross-dressing FBI agent in the 2000 comedy "Big Momma's House" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Omar Epps stars in the 2000 drama "Love & Basketball" (7 p.m., UPN).
  • A woman (Mimi Rogers) fights to save her crew and family after a mine collapse in the 2003 thriller "Cave In" (7 p.m., Pax).
  • Missing drugs put Horatio's team under suspicion on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • Stabler identifies with the grief-stricken father of a murdered waitress on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
  • Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): Pop singer Anastacia discusses her breast cancer; a woman befriends a man who turns out to be her biological brother.
  • John Cusack appears on "On the Record with Bob Costas" (10:30 p.m., HBO).

Series notes

Arsenio Hall is host of "Star Search" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Tom Bergeron is host for two hours of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (7 p.m., ABC) ... On a short lease on "What I Like About You" (7 p.m., WB).

Edward James Olmos and Los Lobos guest-star on "Greetings from Tucson" (7:30 p.m., WB).

Strapped for cash on "Reba" (8 p.m., WB) ... Sean hides Claudia's glasses on "Grounded for Life" (8:30 p.m., WB).


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