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Scott D. Pierce: Faltering Fox fumbles

SHARE Scott D. Pierce: Faltering Fox fumbles

It's one and done for "The Rich List," "Happy Hour" is all gloom and "The O.C." might be moving.

Well, it is moving. Sort of. It might move some more.

Such is the state of Fox's prime-time schedule, which is pretty much in shambles.

Oh, did I mention that the network is already trumpeting the return of "American Idol" on Jan. 16?

Under the best of circumstances, it isn't easy being the network that airs baseball's postseason play. It's a huge disruption to your prime-time schedule — a disruption that was made all the worse this year because the Cardinals-Tigers matchup was the lowest-rated World Series in TV history.

But Fox's post-post-season has been disastrous because shows like "'Til Death," "Happy Hour," "Justice," "Standoff" and "Vanished," which weren't doing well before baseball, are doing worse now.

And the game show "The Rich List" did so poorly in its debut last week that it's already been canceled.

The network has also yanked the sitcom "Happy Hour" off the schedule for the second time this season. Chances of it ever returning are slim and none.

And (big surprise here) the return of "The O.C." got killed in the ratings by "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" last week. (Duh!) So this week a new episode of "The O.C" will air Wednesday at 8 p.m. (in place of the jettisoned "Rich List") and a second new episode will get killed again by "Grey's" and "CSI" on Thursday at 8 p.m.

Speculation is that if "The O.C." does better on Wednesday — and it could hardly do worse — it will move on a more permanent basis. (The show's lead-in on Thursday will be a "'Til Death" repeat followed by a "'Til Death" original episode.)

Or maybe they're just burning "The O.C." off. After all, only 16 episodes were ordered for this season.

Hey, did I mention it's only 10 weeks until the season premiere of "American Idol"?

IT WAS INTERESTING to see that the last line of Sunday's "Treehouse of Horrors" episode of "The Simpsons" was edited out.

According to Fox, it wasn't a network decision — the writers decide that their "War of the Worlds" satire of the current situation in Iraq (complete with references to "weapons of mass disintegration" and "Operation Enduring Occupation") didn't need the last line — "This sure is a lot like Iraq will be."

They were right. That was waaaaay too heavy-handed.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com