So tonight's the night. At 10 o'clock on ABC, Nancy gets her second-look surgery, and we find out if ovarian cancer is going to kill her.

Or rather, if you're going to kill her. It wasn't horrible enough that she had to live through husband Elliot's endless adolescence, or that she had to get cancer after he grew up and came back home. No, you started dropping all these terrible hints of Worse to Come.

Guys, guys, guys. Must you remedy 40 years of televised unreality in one blow? We just want to be sure you thought carefully about your alternatives. Back in November, when we read an interview in Esquire where you talked about some horrible twist this season, we were suddenly hopeful. "It's going to be, like, devastating and true," producer Ed Zwick said. Maybe, we thought, you were going to kill someone else.

For a while we perked up every time Gary went outdoors: Maybe he would fulfill his sheep dog destiny by running in front of a car. Better still, Susannah. She's gotten a little more human, but the fact remains: She's a pill. Okay, so bad things never happen to bad people. How about Ellyn? She's finally got a boyfriend. She could die happy.

Even if we find out tonight that Nancy's cancer is still there, it's not too late for remission. We beg you, consider your alternatives, and listen to your audience. Did you ever think about offering a number viewers could call to vote? We're sure they'd agree that an obvious solution is at hand -- one that would give you Nancy and your Ingmar Bergman pretensions too, one that would satisfy your fans no end.

Say the word and we'll call:

1-700-KIL-HOPE.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Kastor Marjorie Williams