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Best of the worst

The Critics Poll list of worst shows is typically topped by a tawdry reality program such as Fox's "The Swan" or an obnoxious sitcom like Fox's "The War at Home."

But this summer's worst shows include several dramas — and the most-disliked program isn't even on Fox, notes TVWeek.com.

ABC's spring debut of "October Road" benefited from its "Grey's Anatomy" lead-in and garnered a renewal for next season, but the drama also earned the wrath of critics, who went to bed with hearts full of hate on Thursday nights.

"There's not an original thought, line of dialogue or image in this painfully derivative, endlessly pandering migraine of a show," wrote TV Guide's Matt Roush.

"The fact that viewers of ABC's Thursday lineup were willing to settle for this turgid bonbon of recycled angst was the most depressing development of the spring."

Fox did make an appearance at No. 2 on the list — with the surprise inclusion of "24."

Last summer, the action-drama was ranked No. 4 on the list of best shows — and, to be fair, many critics bashed this season of the program for failing to live up to its own high standards.

"Soap-opera elements and bad dialogue have always infected this series, but usually the action moves fast enough that you don't care about the flaws," wrote Robert Philpot of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Not this year. And who decided it was a good idea to both neuter Chloe and make her pregnant?"

Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker agrees. "What a difference a season makes. From an early top-10 slot to its lamest season yet, filled with false turns and mean-mindedness."

Two NBC shows came in third and fourth: the short-lived reality show "Real Wedding Crashers" and the crime drama "The Black Donnellys," respectively.

"As if watching a lovingly lit hunk in skivvies bludgeon a dead body to fit into a trash can counts as human drama," wrote US Weekly's John Griffiths of "Donnellys."

The CW's "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll" and TBS' "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" were next on the list, but critics had few standout comments until No. 7: the ever-controversial "Nancy Grace" on CNN's Headline News.

"She represents every bad part of our media culture. She — and CNN — have shown they're willing to do anything to anyone for ratings," wrote Rick Kushman in the Sacramento Bee.

Charlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury News says he worries that Miss Grace's influence will grow: "My deepest fear is that Grace, the Lord High Executioner of TV, will end up as a panelist on 'The View,' " he wrote.

'Army Wives' to return

Lifetime picked up its hit series "Army Wives" for a second season.

Eighteen new episodes will premiere in spring 2008. The renewal comes as no surprise. The drama, from the Mark Gordon Company/ABC Studios, has been the network's highest-rated series ever, averaging 3.6 million viewers since its June premiere, says Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

The "network for women" announced plans for "Wives' " second season during its Thursday presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Bridging the gap between the two seasons will be a new two-hour, psychic-themed Friday-night reality block set to debut Oct. 12, and the second season of the acquired vampire drama "Blood Ties," which premieres Oct. 13, B&C says.

Rosie's new rants

Speaking of "The View," sadly it seems we haven't heard the last of the Rosie O'Donnell-Elisabeth Hasselbeck dust-up that ended Miss O'Donnell's brief tenure on the show three weeks before her contract expired.

According to MSNBC.com, Miss O'Donnell reportedly drew devil horns, a tail and a fiendish goatee on a picture of her former co-host during a recent cruise for homosexual families.

She also took aim at another enemy, Donald Trump.

The Web site, citing a story in US Weekly, claims that Miss O'Donnell reportedly said she'd love to break into Donald Trump's apartment and rub her belly all over him. The outspoken comic used the same line at the finale of the True Colors tour on July 1 in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, at a press conference to announce his new line of office chairs through Staples, the Donald threw out a barb of his own for Miss O'Donnell — suggesting that she should not sit in one of his new products.

"I said they are not strong enough. We would have to make them out of steel," he laughed.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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