Given the uphill battle ABC faces next season to win back viewers, the network's decision to ax Kim Delaney's promising legal drama Philly seemed rather odd. After all, the freshman series — from producer Steven Bochco — had begun to show signs of life creatively and ratings-wise.

"We would have loved to have a second season," Bochco admits to TV Guide Online. "I think we all felt that we had matured the show and really focused it and sharpened it and made it a better show than that which we started with.

"I think we all felt that we had some really interesting ideas for next season," he adds, "and we felt we had developed a really strong, loyal core audience."

That core audience no doubt tuned in to last night's series finale — despite the fact that it was buried in the post-May-sweeps graveyard. Not surprisingly, Bochco believes shoddy scheduling moves like that eventually did Philly in.

"One of our problems — particularly with ABC — was that in the last two months of the season we're on, we're off, we're off, we're on, we're on at 10 pm, we're on at 9 pm... And then, of course, we went off for four weeks for The Court to go on. [That low-rated show] really eroded the time period, and then, suddenly, we were rushed back into that time period without any real promotion. And so, we sort of staggered toward the finish line from a ratings point of view.

"I certainly wish that it had been handled differently," he concludes, "but you can't un-ring a bell. It is what it is."