In what can only be described as a pop culture miracle, the WB's college drama Felicity — which last May was considered a shoo-in for cancellation — has staged a comeback so dramatic that people are finally talking about something other than Keri Russell's hair. After watching its viewership practically disappear last year in the wake of a timeslot change and a highly publicized coiffure controversy, Felicity has roared back to life in its third season, notching double-digit ratings gains and winning raves from critics.

"We were literally dead," executive producer J.J. Abrams tells TV Guide Online. "We were as good as cancelled. The fact that we're now talking about the possibility of a senior year is exciting."

Indeed, the idea that Felicity might not live to see its title character graduate was heartbreaking for Abrams, not to mention the show's loyal fans. But given the good buzz surrounding the new-and-improved Felicity, insiders say the WB would be crazy not to renew the series for a fourth year. "It feels right that we at least get to tell the story of this girl going through four years of college," admits Abrams. "So I'm incredibly hopeful and optimistic that we will be back next year. But it depends on so many things."

Not the least of which is how the show will fare when it returns from its three-month hiatus, which kicks off with tonight's "Winter Cliffhanger." Jack & Jill takes over Felicity's Wednesday at 9 pm/ET timeslot beginning Jan. 10, but Abrams insists he's not praying the Amanda Peet/Ivan Sergei dramedy will tank. "Oddly, the better Jack & Jill does, the better chances we have when we come back of doing well," he says, noting that Felicity will return in April with six all-new episodes. "So, I hope it maintains viewers, that way when we return there's something for us to stand on.

"We're just working really hard to make Felicity creatively the best show it can be, and ratings and renewals are all sort of secondary," Abrams adds. "Of course, we'd love to keep working on the show and hope that we can, but that's really out of our hands."