Fans of quality television couldn't help but feel defeated when HBO opted not to pick up Sports Night, the critically acclaimed dramedy that ABC axed last May. But series star Peter Krause admits he was "secretly praying" the show wouldn't be brought back to life.

As the actor explains, had another network acquired Sports Night, he would have never been able to head Six Feet Under — HBO's upcoming drama series from American Beauty's Oscar-winning scribe Alan Ball. "I greatly enjoyed Sports Night, but I really felt like I wanted to make a bit of a shift," Krause tells TV Guide Online. "I was happy to move on."

If Krause was looking for a change of pace from Sports Night, he certainly found it. While the ABC series was set behind-the-scenes of a SportsCenter-type show, Six Feet Under delves inside the funeral home biz. "The subject matter was more along the lines of the things that I'm interested in," admits the Minneapolis native, whose co-stars include Oscar nominee Rachel Griffiths (Hilary & Jackie) and Broadway vet Frances Conroy. "I think that this is a full, rich show. It has all the elements of the human condition."

And although Hollywood has long lampooned the mortuary industry in movies and on TV, Krause insists that the characters in Six Feet Under are anything but silly stereotypes. "A mortician is no different from anyone else, whether they're an actor, a writer, a television critic, except that they live with death on a daily basis," he says. "[And] I think there's a certain heightened sensitivity to life that we're able to explore in the show because of it."