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TV's 5 Things to be Thankful For, 11.23.01 ...


TV's 5 best things to be thankful for. Bruce Fretts celebrates the holiday by heaping praise, and scorn, on the shows that deserve it most.

In my son's kindergarten class the other day, everyone had to say what they were thankful for. My 5-year-old's answer: TV. That's my boy! I couldn't agree more -- especially this season. Despite the lack of any breakout hits in the ratings, this fall's cornucopia of new series is the finest I've seen in nearly a decade. Here's the cream of the crop -- along with a couple of turkeys:

Let us be thankful for...

CBS picking up ''The Ellen Show'' for the full season. It's been struggling in the Nielsens due to its rotten Friday-at-8:30 time slot, but Ellen DeGeneres' pleasingly giddy sitcom has found its creative voice. Chuffed by the star's brilliantly modulated turn as emcee at the Emmys, the Eye will air the series as part of its prime Monday slate during December. I say the net should leave it there. Time for ''Yes, Dear'' or ''Becker'' to sink or swim on their own!

NBC canceling ''Emeril.'' New Peacock entertainment president Jeff Zucker had a lot riding on chef Emeril Legasse's sitcom. It was one of the first shows he greenlit -- after every other network turned it down, according to cocreators Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason. Zucker claimed the critics who roasted the series were out of touch and that average Americans would embrace it. It takes a big man to admit he was wrong and put this lame-o show out of its (and our) misery.

The WB's ''Gilmore Girls'' thriving. The Frog took a leap of faith when it moved the charming dramedy that had survived on Thursdays last season against ''Survivor'' and ''Friends'' to a tough slot on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Pitted against the netlet's defector, ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'' single mom Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and her teenage daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) have kicked butt, frequently even beating Sarah Michelle Gellar's demon-buster on UPN.

NBC gathering a gifted ensemble for ''Crossing Jordan.'' The scripts for this drama about a Boston medical examiner often stink worse than formaldehyde. Yet the ensemble, led by lovely ''Law & Order'' vet Jill Hennessy in the title role, consistently lift the show to watchable level. ''Twin Peaks'' alum Miguel Ferrer brings a sneaky wit to his scenes as Hennessy's overworked supervisor, and Ken Howard (''The White Shadow'') grounds the proceedings in reality with his chowdah-thick Massachusetts accent.

Two words: ''The Tick.'' The WB's pubescent Superman drama ''Smallville'' has gotten a bigger promotional push, but Fox's comic-book spoof is almost as super. Previously best known as Puddy on ''Seinfeld,'' Patrick Warburton more than fills out his blue costume as the often-clueless crimefighter. Now if Fox would just move it away from its underperforming ''Family Guy'' lead-in on Thursdays, then we'd really have something to be thankful for.

What TV shows are you thankful for this holiday?
Credit: Entertainment Weekly


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