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'Knight Rider' cutback highlights NBC's woes

December 3, 2008 |  5:24 pm

Here's a slogan NBC might want to try. Our schedule: More crazy twists and turns than an episode of  "Knight Rider"! 

Back in October, the network had made a splashy announcement that it would order a full season of "Knight Rider," its extremely low-rated caper series. This is the kind of news that producers live for, because it's the closest thing to a guarantee of network airtime that they will ever see.

But hey, sometimes network executives change their minds. Word went around town today that the network, ostensibly to save money, will cut back on the episodes for "Knight Rider." Instead of the expected 22 episodes, the network will now produce just 17 (so far, it has aired eight). A network spokeswoman confirmed the shift but declined to comment further.

That means that "Knight Rider" will conclude its first season on Feb. 25 (or at least that's what it means today). This does not necessarily mean that the show is canceled, although one would assume that the prospects for a second season don't look promising. In a midseason release today, NBC said that "Knight Rider's" 8 p.m. Wednesday time period will be given, starting March 4, to a "new show ... to be announced soon."

Apparently when NBC executives said they were devoted to year-round scheduling, they meant it. What isn't clear, though, is whether such tinkering is doing the network any good. Through Sunday, NBC is in fourth place season-to-date among both total viewers (7.8 million average) and adults ages 18 to 49. And with the end of Sunday football games rapidly approaching, NBC's prime-time picture looks wintry indeed.

— Scott Collins

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