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Lelia Nebeker Headshot

Dear ABC: Just Stop Trying to Air Shows on Thursdays at 8 (It's Getting Embarrassing)

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Last week, ABC canceled the midseason conspiracy drama Zero Hour after airing just three episodes. In case you missed it -- either because you were taking a really long nap, or maybe you just blinked -- Zero Hour was about an editor of a paranormal-themed magazine (Anthony Edwards) whose wife goes missing, and in his quest to find her, he discovers that he's part of a larger conspiracy that threatens the world as we know it. With its cataclysmic prophecies and borderline-supernatural mythology, Zero Hour reminded me of one of its time slot predecessors: FlashForward. Remember that show? It was the one where the entire world blacked out at the same time and saw flashes of their futures. Sounds promising, right? It was. Like Zero Hour, FlashForward couldn't find its footing in the Thursday 8 p.m. time slot, and it didn't help that its run was interrupted by the 2010 Winter Olympics. FlashForward was among the first shows to fall victim to ABC's Thursday night curse. Since then, I've seen four more shows crash and burn on Thursdays at 8 on ABC, and the saddest thing is, I genuinely liked all of them.

After FlashForward came the soapy legal drama The Deep End, which I loved far more than I should have. It was supposed to be Grey's Anatomy set at a law firm, and it pretty much succeeded in this objective. Plus, it starred actors from a handful of other canceled shows that I loved: Tina Majorino from Veronica Mars, Matt Long from Jack & Bobby, Rachelle Lefevre from Life on a Stick, and, inexplicably, Billy Zane. I probably should have taken this as a sign that The Deep End was not long for this world. No matter how much I loved this sudsy, derivative melodrama, it was canceled after six episodes.

Mehcad Brooks must really be feeling the brunt of this curse, because after his turn on The Deep End, he starred in ABC's mockumentary-style ensemble series My Generation, which revisited a class of high school seniors ten years after their graduation. Canceled after just two episodes, My Generation makes The Deep End look prolific by comparison. Also, I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the world who actually liked this show. (What can I say? I have low standards when Mehcad Brooks is involved.)

Between the cancellation of My Generation in late 2010 and the premiere of Last Resort in the fall of 2012, I took a break from ABC's black-hole Thursday nights. For all I know, they were airing Wipeout reruns that entire time. (Update: Apparently the Charlie's Angels reboot and Ashley Judd's aptly-titled drama Missing occupied this time slot for most of 2011. And we all know how that went...) Then, this past September, Last Resort debuted among rave reviews from critics. It was a thrilling military drama from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, starring Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman. Last Resort had it all: political intrigue, riveting suspense, exotic tropical settings, stellar writing, and -- as a somewhat demeaning ABC promo touted -- Scott Speedman in uniform. Sadly, no amount of critical praise and Scott Speedman's sex appeal could save this promising drama from the curse of ABC Thursdays at 8. And that is how my favorite new drama of 2012 got replaced by Zero Hour.

If ABC is Charlie Brown, the Thursday-night 8 p.m. time slot is the proverbial football they keep unsuccessfully trying to kick. So what is it about this one hour in prime time that takes great shows (and some mediocre ones) and sucks them into a ratings vortex of impending doom? For one thing, The Big Bang Theory airs at the same time on CBS, and everyone in the country is busy watching that instead (for some unknown reason). It's hard to compete with the highest-rated comedy on television. Another factor is The CW's hit The Vampire Diaries, which also airs on Thursdays at 8, absconding with a good chunk of ABC's largely female-driven audience.

Honestly, I wish ABC would just give up on Thursday nights and spare me the pain of getting invested in another show, only to watch it get axed after six weeks. There's only so much I can take. You know what might make me feel better? If ABC put together all these failed shows in a special DVD box set. Someone make that happen. In the meantime, if you're looking for some quality programming on Thursday nights at 8, you can catch the thrilling reality competition series Shark Tank on ABC. (Fair warning: It is dumber than it sounds.) Personally, I'm just grateful they haven't tried to make a spin-off of Dancing with the Stars. Oh wait...