In the past, I reserved my hallowed Deggy awards for a time just before the Emmy awards, to demonstrate how much better I was than Hollywood in picking great TV achievers. • But this week, I'm dusting off the Deggys to judge who's winning and losing, about three weeks into the official start of the new fall TV seasons. Given some of the categories, this may be an honor some shows prefer to do without.
And the Deggy goes to …
Worst desecration of a once-cool TV show: NBC's Heroes
Okay, maybe this was only once cool to comic book geeks like me. But this season's story line, with Prison Break's Robert Knepper as an earth-moving dude flitting around the action, just persuaded this fanboy to give up the ghost; our super-dudes jumped the shark about a season ago.
Quickest cancellation: NBC's Southland
This prize was supposed to go to the CW's The Beautiful Life, canceled after just two episodes. But then NBC put the kibosh on its new school police drama two weeks before the second season was to start Oct. 23. How awful could they have been to get canceled before airtime?
Worst pilot to become a good series: CBS's The Good Wife
ER alum Juliana Margulies is overcoming predictable scripts to create an empowered answer to all those cuckolded political wives in the real news. Who knew there would be so much drama in the days after the philandering comes to light?
Best late night patsy: NBC's Conan O'Brien
First Jay Leno steals his thunder by moving the Tonight Show to 10 p.m., then CBS rival David Letterman gets a ratings boost by admitting sex with female staffers. Is there anyone who has had a worse run of luck in late night TV?
Best pilot to become a mediocre series: ABC's FlashForward
The first episode's setup, putting the world to sleep for two minutes, was daring and spectacular. But the characters' tendency to overexplain every plot point is making subsequent episodes feel like Lost for dummies.
Worst abuse of contestants: NBC's Biggest Loser
For plunging their most obese contestant pool ever straight into a mile-long run, putting two in the hospital, I think trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels should be sentenced to a stint on Dancing with the Stars with no warning or training. Ask Tom "Stress Fracture" DeLay how that turned out.
30 Rock, debuts at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, WFLA-Ch. 8: Tina Fey's Emmy-laden comedy starts its fourth season in a comfortable groove, with Fey's put-upon producer Liz Lemon challenged to find a new, more relatable cast member for The Girlie Show without freaking out her stars Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy (Tracy Morgan). Highlights include Jenna recording a country-style theme song for NBC's tennis coverage and Tracy begging to feel the rough hands of a janitor. Won't win many new fans, but will keep us established Rock-ies laughing all the way past Jay Leno.
Nip/Tuck, debuts at 10 p.m. Wednesday on FX: This is a TiNo it pains me to give, as my once-favorite TV drama starts its sixth season in a bit of trouble. The big problem: Producers have so tortured buddy plastic surgeons Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) that any new tribulations feel a bit like bad soap opera. This time, the cratering economy brings money troubles for our high-flying pals, with Troy enduring a painful divorce from his bisexual anesthesiologist and McNamara struggling with bouts of insomnia as tension over the future grows. At least Rose McGowan and Mario Lopez make wonderful guests appearances as McNamara's love interest and a buff, rival surgeon, respectively.
For better or worse, they're the bosses
In honor of National Boss Day on Friday, it's time to tackle a list of TV's Standout Bosses – assembled with a little help from my friends in the Times features department.
• Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick), 'Fringe': Cool. Ruthless. And blessed with a voice pitched somewhere between a lion's purr and a slap across the face.
• Montgomery Burns (Harry Shearer), 'The Simpsons': With a voice like a Boris Karloff character and taste for the suffering of his staffers, billionaire Burns is like a supercharged version of every villain from a Jimmy Stewart movie.
• Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), 'The Closer': Feminine enough to wear a pink raincoat to work and tough enough to stare down a serial rapist, this Los Angeles Police Department sherlock is sharp enough to handle anything, except the occasional Ring Ding under stress.
• Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), 'The Office': The kind of boss who is so needy and inept he doesn't know how needy and inept he is.
n Roger Sterling (John Slattery), 'Mad Men': This entitled, skirt-chasing son of the founder was so integral to the operation of Sterling Cooper advertising, the new British bosses left him off their office flow chart.