It looks like “The Doctor is Out” at ABC. The network is readjusting its Tuesday night schedule and its little surprise that the new Ted Danson comedy has been sent packing.
Help Me Help You was an offbeat sitcom about best-selling author and therapist Dr. Bill Hoffman (Cheers’ Ted Danson) and his therapy group of misfits. The patients were ably played by Dear John’s Jere Burns , Charlie Finn, Jim Rash, Darlene Hunt, and Suzy Nakamura. Ironically, Dr. Bill was probably more eccentric and self-obsessed than his collection of quirky patients. It didn’t help that he had to cope with his 22-year old daughter (Lindsay Sloane), his ex-wife Anne (Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek) and her ever-sympathetic boyfriend Kenny (Thomas F. Wilson).
The quirky sitcom debuted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 on ABC. It followed the hugely successful Dancing with the Stars. Help Me drew an estimated 8.5 million households that night (a 7.7 rating). Those are okay numbers until you realize that almost 13 million households had been watching Dancing with the Stars. That’s really bad — and it didn’t get better as time went on. The numbers just got worse and worse. This past Tuesday, Help Me Help You attracted less than three million households (a 2.6 rating).
ABC had initially ordered 13 episodes of the series and had then ordered four additional scripts on November 1st. The cast and crew have been waiting for two months to hear if the network wanted to order production on additional half-hours to hopefully fill out a full season of 22 episodes.
Word came down last night that ABC had decided against purchasing further episodes and that they were pulling Help Me Help You from the schedule, effective immediately. It seems like ABC wanted to give this show a good chance but too few audience members were interested.
ABC will air two episodes of sitcom Big Day next week in the 9-10pm timeslot. Right now, Big Day is scheduled to continue until January 16, 2007 (when powerhouse American Idol returns on Fox). A permanent replacement is expected to be announced soon. ABC is probably trying to give Big Day one last shot but it may be doomed as well. Big Day’s ratings have only been marginally better than those of Help Me Help You.
Nine episodes of Help Me Help You have been broadcast on ABC, leaving four episodes unaired. It’s extremely doubtful that it will ever return to primetime. A DVD release or downloads via iTunes are possible but don’t look very probable at this point. I think this group therapy session is over.