When recent high-school grad Pacey Witter heads back to Dawson's Creek this season (which kicks off tomorrow night), he'd better take a paddle, because his big brother might not be around to bail him out of trouble. Seems Deputy Doug's portrayer, Dylan Neal, may soon have bigger fish to fry, thanks to his starring role in the upcoming Sci Fi Channel movie/pilot Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers.

"Legend shoots in Vancouver, and I'd be sort of the lead on the show," he tells TV Guide Online, "so I don't see how I would have time to fly all the way to Wilmington, N.C., to shoot a scene for Creek."

Having recently shot an episode of the teen soap ("I got to go visit the kids, see how they're doing"), he now finds himself playing a waiting game. And while Legend seems likely to be given a green light, experience has taught Neal to put the brakes on his own enthusiasm. "In 1999, I had eight network deals fall apart at the last minute. Now, I trust nothing until I sign on the dotted line."

Instead, he's biding his time, although keenly aware that the clock is ticking. "Sci Fi may well wait to see the ratings when it airs in January, and I've already been offered one other series that I turned down."

Meanwhile, Neal's not ruling out the possibility of future Creek appearances. "Maybe I'll go back for 'A Very Special Christmas Episode,'" he says with a laugh, adding that if tragedy befell Pacey, "Well, I'd have to be there for the funeral!"