ABC, in the throes of trying to rebuild its prime-time lineup, has completed a dubious sweep of its fledgling dramatic series by canceling the dinosaur fantasy "Dinotopia" -- meaning all four of this fall's new dramas became extinct before 2003.
"Dinotopia," which didn't premiere until Thanksgiving, will have its final telecast Dec. 26, after drawing dismal ratings (about 5 million viewers a week, based on Nielsen estimates) opposite "Friends" on NBC and "Survivor" on CBS. ABC, set to air several college football bowl games in prime time New Year's week, is expected to run movies to fill the 8 to 10 p.m. window Thursdays as a stop-gap measure starting in January.
With its cancellation, "Dinotopia" -- which made its debut with a splashy miniseries last spring -- joins ABC's "Push, Nevada," "That Was Then" and "MDs" on the new series scrap heap.
ABC has enjoyed some success this season with its comedies, ordering additional episodes of the new Tuesday sitcoms "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," "Life With Bonnie" and "Less Than Perfect." A second edition of "The Bachelor" also attracted sizable audiences, helping the network finish second among the young adults sought by advertisers for the November rating sweeps. ABC finished third overall, behind CBS and NBC.
Still, the failure of its dramatic roster has left ABC with a number of holes to plug in addition to the seasonal end of "Monday Night Football." As a result, much will be riding on a second wave of new programs in January, including the action-adventure "Veritas" and "Miracles," about investigators of unexplained phenomena, which will bookend a relocated "The Practice" on Mondays beginning Jan. 27.
In addition, a version of "Dragnet," starring "Married ... With Children's" Ed O'Neill, replaces "The Practice" Sundays. The network hopes to use the vast audience expected for Super Bowl XXXVII to promote the lineup changes.
ABC isn't the only network with gaps to fill. Twelve of 31 new programs on six networks have now been canceled, including the Fox dramas "Girls Club" and "Firefly," as well as CBS' "Robbery Homicide Division" and comedy "Bram and Alice."