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CARDS STACKED AGAINST 'GO FISH'; CH. 2 HAS REASON TO CELEBRATE

NBC's new high school comedy, "Go Fish" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.), has been hanging around the network for some time, which suggests the pilot is likely to smell as badly as three-day-old trout.

The title alone tells you that this series from people associated with "South Park" and the movie, "American Pie," is straining for laughs.

With credits like those, you certainly expect something more revolutionary than this dumb sitcom about a high school student who enters his freshman year with a foolish plan to be so cool that he gets the unattainable hot cheerleader.

Kieran Culkin, McCauley's dull brother, stars as Andy Troutner, whose last name has earned him the inevitable nickname of "Fish."

Andy Troutner's older brother, Pete (Will Friedle of "Boy Meets World"), is an unorthodox first-year teacher who has to learn a variety of lessons about the proper relationship between students and teachers.

Andy has a couple of friends, Hazard (Taylor Handley of "Jack Frost") and Henry (Kyle Sabilhy), who seem to admire or gravitate to him for no discernible reason. Henry is the bright one, who doesn't know that it isn't smart to show up your teacher.

Joe Flaherty essentially tweaks his "Freaks and Geeks" role as Andy's strange father, Molly Cheek of "American Pie" is his mother and Andy Dick of "NewsRadio" is the over-the-top drama teacher.

The cast is much more interesting than the material in the slim first two episodes available for review. In the barely passable pilot, Andy's attempt to make an impression on the beautiful cheerleader, Jess Riley (Katherine Ellis of "Malcolm in the Middle"), falls flat. Literally.

The second episode is a notable improvement, with Andy meeting his female mirror image, a beautiful girl who has her own plan to snag the high school quarterback. And Andy is part of the plan.

But the funniest aspect of the episode is the idea of having a character played by Andy Dick, who had a memorable 1999 drug arrest, advising other teachers how to spot students who are on drugs.

With "Boston Public," "Freaks and Geeks" and "Popular" addressing the high school experience over the last two seasons, "Go Fish" really didn't have any new place to go. So after a few weeks, it probably will just go away, another high school loser without anything interesting or especially funny to say about the pain of adolescence.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

The demographics are in for the May sweeps, and third-place Channel 2 News has more reason to celebrate.

According to figures supplied by the station, WGRZ-TV had double-digit percentage growth from a year ago in the adult 18 through 49 demographic in the early morning, at 5 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Channel 7, meanwhile, was up slightly in the early morning and had double-digit losses in what is viewed by many advertisers as the key demographic at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Channel 4 had a huge 48.4 rise in adults 18 through 49 in the morning but was flat at 5 p.m., up in double-digits at 6 p.m and down in double digits at 10 p.m. (on WNLO) and down slightly at 11 p.m.

At 6 p.m., Channel 2 lost 50 percent of its adult audience age 18 through 49 and Channel 7 had a double-digit loss. The double digit increase by Channel 4 pulled it to within .1 points of tying Channel 7 in that category after trailing by 1.8 points a year ago.

Here's further evidence that viewers are looking for any original programming they can find during the summer doldrums. The series premiere of "Witchblade" with Yancy Butler scored a 2.7 rating a week ago on TNT, making it basic cable's highest-rated summer drama series launch in history. "The Law & Order" reruns that now air on TNT on Tuesday also did terrifically.

Tracy Sadeghian of East Aurora, the consumer/investigative reporter at WRDW-TV in Augusta, Ga., has won two journalism awards -- one regional, one national -- for an investigation, "Nursing Home Nightmare?" According to the station, the investigation "uncovered shocking conditions at an Augusta nursing home" and led to public hearings by a Georgia house subcommittee.

Sadeghian is a graduate of Nardin Academy and the University at Buffalo and received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Buffalo obviously is a good theater town. The local rating for the Tony Awards was an impressive 8.6, well above the national average.

Finally, anyone else notice how often that Channel 7's 6 p.m. news ends at 6:26 p.m., with the last three or four minutes saved for commercials?

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