Although the series had some startup problems and the critics were lukewarm about Shields' comedic talents, Susan became the hottest new show on the air. Partly that was the result of heavy promotion and kindly scheduling: first in the slot after Seinfeld; then (after a hiatus), in the slot between Friends and Seinfeld.
But the show runners also think that the force of Shields' personality is just winning over viewers. "Brooke has innate ability, but it needed to be given time to blossom," says Gary Dontzig, the executive producer (and a Murphy Brown veteran). "I think the industry and the critics are now coming around to respecting her and certainly audiences are growing to like her."
For whatever reason, the show's strength was pretty plain Oscar week when it placed fourth in the ratings, with 22 million viewers, exceeded only by the Academy Awards, Seinfeld, and Friends.
In the final episode, Susan has to help her boss (Judd Nelson) get his magazine back after he loses it in a high-stakes poker game with Donald Trump, John McEnroe, Mr. T and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.
Also folding its cards: EZ Streets, the well-reviewed, little-watched cops drama starring Ken Olin. CBS gave it a second chance in midseason after showing it for only two episodes in the fall, in the hopes that viewers would take the critics' advice and watch. But, after five weeks on Wednesday nights, it attracted less than 8 million viewers.
Martin too will go on permanent hiatus after the May 1 episode after five years on Fox, ending a troubled season during which Tisha Campbell walked--accusing star Martin Lawrence of harrassment (sexual and otherwise)--then walked back, and Lawrence got himself arrested again, this time on an accusation that he punched a man in a dance club.
In the final episode, Tisha and Martin, acting their hearts out to portray a happy couple, move from Detroit to Los Angeles, where his character is offered a job hosting a talk show. First, he gets a sendoff roast from celebs from the world of music and sports, including Lou Rawls and Tommy Hearns. The real Martin says he wants to work on his film career.
The great mandala of television turns on, however. Saturday night, ABC premieres two intriguing dramas, Leaving L.A., about a coroner's office, and Gun, an anthology series about a gun passing from hand to hand, produced by film's Robert Altman.