Question: I watched the first couple of episodes of Cashmere Mafia, primarily in a desperate attempt to find new quality programming that would fill the void created by the writers' strike. New, yes. Quality, no. Unfortunately, I came to a similar conclusion that you expressed in your review: It was Sex and the City without the chemistry or substance. It only took about 15 minutes of the pilot to figure that out, but I wanted to give the show a fair shake, especially since it had some great actresses playing the main characters, like Miranda Otto, and, as I said, I'm somewhat desperate for something new. Now that the major networks have aired most of their "due-to-the-strike" season finales, it's a shame this is the kind of programming we've got left to watch. Thankfully we still have some new quality programming to look forward to, such as Law & Order, Monk and Lost (of course, with the exception of Monk, they will all likely be unplanned short seasons, too). Since the strike has gotten to the point of probably affecting new pilots and other new development deals for fall 2008, do you think it's possible that mediocre shows like Cashmere Mafia might actually get another chance next year, regardless of ratings? In other words, what else will the network have to produce, creatively speaking? I know you've talked about the uncharted territory of the strike and its possible affects, but a major network like ABC can't realistically survive 2008 on a half season of Lost and what I expect will be countless reruns of Grey's Anatomy. Or can it?
Answer: From the early returns, Cashmere Mafia appears to be a dud. Strike or no strike, I can't imagine it's a keeper. If anything, a show that's underperforming during this period is probably in even more jeopardy than if it was struggling in a more competitive time. I still don't get the logic in some of the mail I'm getting that suggests that shows currently on the air have a better chance of being renewed because of the impact the strike will have on development. An albatross is an albatross, no matter how gussied up its ill-matched stars may be. On your other point, about ABC's prospects for the rest of the season, there's no question this network is especially hurt because of its reliance on serialized scripted programming on so many nights. Lost will help buck up Thursdays to a degree, and I like Eli Stone, the show that will follow Lost, though it's probably too quirky to become the next big thing. (It's a bit like Pushing Daisies in its clash of genres, in this case the legal drama and the wacky fantasy.) ABC will also have a new cycle of Dancing with the Stars this spring, once the woeful Dance Wars is finished. And Oprah's Big Give, the megastar's first prime-time reality series, could also give the network a boost. Plus there are still a bunch of episodes of Men in Trees yet to be aired, and this is one case where ABC's bad treatment of a show could turn out to be an unexpected boon. But all in all, ABC will be hurting in the back half of the season if things don't get back to normal.