TV

NBC Still Burning Off "Firm" Episodes

Believe it or not, I saw that NBC is still carrying new episodes of "The Firm" on Saturday nights.

For the 4 million or so viewers who watch it, I guess it's a nice thing that they'll get to watch the entire season on the air so that they aren't left hanging (hopefully, it won't end on a cliffhanger).

I, like many people, gave up on "The Firm" after the first episode. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't all that great, either. And when I saw how atrocious the ratings were -- it was the worst-performing debut of any drama ever for the network in the key demographic -- I knew the show wasn't long for the world.

So NBC confined it to the Saturday night wasteland. Since it already had spent the money on the episodes, it might as well air them, which is sound logic that other networks don't share.

Fox, in particular, has treated some of the fans of its shows pretty badly. The most egregious case was a few years ago, when it decided to yank the series "Tru Calling" with one episode left to air, which I saw as a slap in the face to the viewers who still watched it. (And its ratings were much better than those of "The Firm.")

Fox also screwed over a show like "Firefly," showing episodes out of order, including the pilot, then not understanding why the show never got any traction with viewers.

All of the networks (except maybe The CW) are guilty of this to some extent, ultimately shooting themselves in the foot in the long run. It makes it hard to launch a new show to a jilted viewer of a previous show. After all, why commit to watching something that the network may not commit to airing for its entire run?

Again, I think this strengthens my argument that TV seasons, for the most part, should follow the cable/UK model of being no more than 13 episodes. Not only would it make the quality of each episode better, but it also avoids fan burnout and makes the commitment on the network's end much smaller.

And, if they do yank a show because of lousy ratings, at least burn off the remaining episodes on Saturdays for those viewers who have stuck with it. It doesn't cost NBC anything to air "The Firm" on Saturdays, and it may spread some goodwill to a network that needs it.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Mostly reruns tonight, but Saturday airs the brilliantly satirical "Twenty Twelve" (BBC America, midnight), a hilarious, mockumentary-style look at the inept committee putting together the London Olympics.

On Sunday, PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) airs a new "Inspector Lewis" series.

On cable, HBO has new episodes of "True Blood" and "The Newsroom" from 9-11 p.m., while Showtime airs "Weeds" and "Episodes" from 10-11 p.m.

TNT has new installments of "Falling Skies" and "The Great Escape" from 9-11 p.m., while A&E counters with "The Glades" and "Longmire."

Finally, AMC is running an all-day marathon of "The Walking Dead," including a one-hour preview of Season 3 during "The Talking Dead" commentary at 9 p.m. hosted by Chris Hardwicke. At 10 p.m., the network is re-airing the series pilot, but showing it in black and white, which figures to be pretty cool.

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