It's do-over time for TV

Published: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 11:56 p.m.
In the past, creators of network midseason replacement series could ease the disappointment of not making it on the fall schedule by noting that their shows would face less fierce competition than during a fall launch. Not so this year.
Approximately 30 new series will debut in the coming weeks. Given the way reality shows manage to spring from concept to phenomenon or bust in a mere few weeks, that number is likely to grow. About three dozen new shows premiered between September and November last year.
Here's a scorecard assessing each network's fortunes thus far in the 2004-05 season, as well as a peek at what's in store. (Unless a date follows the description of a new show, its debut has yet to be determined.) ABC The network climbed out of the cellar in the fall by introducing quality scripted programming like "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "Boston Legal." With this new lineup, it leap-frogged over declining NBC in the age 18-to-49 demographic, critical for assessing advertising rates. ABC is fully stocked for midseason with the following series:
  • "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How'd They Do That?": Remember how ABC ran "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" to a premature death? Here, it further exploits its feel-good reality show with what amounts to the making-of commentary track on a DVD. (8 p.m. Monday)
  • "Supernanny": Yet another reality show about experts aiding beleaguered parents. The network accuses Fox of rushing "Nanny 911" (currently playing on Wednesday nights) into the marketplace ahead of it. (10 p.m. Jan. 17)
  • "Eyes": Wry private-eye series starring Tim Daly.
  • "Grey's Anatomy": Uplifting medical drama about female internists starring Ellen Pompeo (as Meredith Grey - get the coy reference in the title), Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl and Patrick Dempsey.
  • "Blind Justice": Sure, a cop (Ron Eldard) may have been blinded in the line of duty, but that doesn't mean he has to turn in his gun, does it? Creator Steven Bochco's latest will replace "NYPD Blue" Tuesdays at 10 after that series retires. (10 p.m. March 8)
  • "In the Game": Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as a reluctant sports reporter. It's a comedy.
  • "Untitled John Stamos Project": Comedy in which a disastrous date between Stamos and Madchen Amick plays out in real time a la "24."
    CBS The most dominant network became even more so this season, winning November sweeps not only in total viewers but also in adults ages 18 to 49, a demographic that CBS, a network traditionally content to serve older viewers, hadn't won in more than two decades. But not all its news was happy. The network quickly canceled one of its best new shows ("Clubhouse") and one of its worst ("dr. vegas"), and its midseason shelf seems a little bare.
  • "Wickedly Perfect": Reality competition seeking out Martha-Stewart-without-the-rap-sheet wannabes. A mere placeholder until the next "Survivor" this spring. (8 p.m. Thursday)
  • "The Will": You think you've seen repulsive characters on reality programs? This one ups the ante as family members and hangers-on cynically vie for the Kansas estate of 73-year-old Bill Long. If he had any sense, he'd show these conniving creeps the door and will his wealth to charity. Perfect viewing just before what will become a much-needed Saturday-night bath. (8 p.m. Saturday)
  • "Numb3rs": Math made sexy, the way science is on "CSI." Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz play crime-busting brothers, the former a Fed, the latter a math whiz. Judd Hirsch co-stars in this crime procedural from another brother act, film directors Ridley and Tony Scott. (Premieres Jan. 23; debuts in its regular time slot at 10 p.m. Jan. 28) NBC After years of whistling past the graveyard, insisting its executives knew what they were doing despite the impending loss of longtime successes like "Friends," the network experienced virtual free-fall this season. Though a couple of series scraped by, no new show was a hit, mainly because they were largely lousy. Not, the network hopes, like these upcoming offerings.
  • "Medium": Why go to the trouble of investigating murders when Patricia Arquette, playing a psychic, can tell you who committed the crime just by reading minds and chatting up the dead victims? (Debuted at 10 p.m. Monday)
  • "Committed": A couple of functional lunatics (Josh Cooke, Jennifer Finnigan) fall for one another; sitcom-style high jinks (including a closet-dwelling clown) ensue. (Debuted at 9:30 Tuesday)
  • "The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search": It would seem that this is the level of programming that led to NBC's decline. Nonetheless, women offer themselves up for objectification or edification in what used to be the family hour. (Debuted at 8 p.m. Wednesday)
  • "The Contender": The reality-boxing competition show with a pedigree: Mark Burnett ("Survivor"), Jeffrey Katzenberg ("Shrek 2") and Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky") executive-produce. Likely to compete against "American Idol." Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (Premieres 9:30 p.m. Feb. 21 before making its time-period debut at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 1)
  • "Law & Order: Trial by Jury": More order than law: Criminal trials are the focus of Dick Wolf's fourth franchise installment. "L&O's" Jerry Orbach had been filmed in a supporting role before his death. The series will continue on schedule this spring. Look for an announcement soon on another star added to the cast.
  • "The Office: An American Workplace": You can almost sense that this remake of the British comic masterpiece is doomed to fail just by the title. Adding "An American Workplace" is redundant and pretentious. It also negates the original's supple comic sensibility. At least it stars the genuinely funny Steve Carrell.
  • Note: NBC announced "Revelations," a limited series about a scientist (Bill Pullman) and a nun (Natascha McElhone) confronting the end times as foretold in the Bible, as a midseason event last May; since then, it seems to have disappeared from the 2004-05 schedule.
    Fox When "American Idol" isn't on, Fox merely tries to stop the bleeding until it returns - which it will, Jan. 18.
  • "Jonny Zero": Ex-con Jonny (Frankie G) becomes a do-gooder while hip-hop attitude splashes all about him. (9 p.m. Jan. 14)
  • "Point Pleasant": Satan's saucy progeny (Elisabeth Harnois) washes ashore in a small New Jersey coastal town; its inhabitants may be more sinister than she. From "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" writer/producer Marti Noxon. (9 p.m. Jan. 19)
  • "Life on a Stick": Teen malaise, both at home and at the mall, as skewered by Victor Fresco, creator of the celebrated, if short-lived "Andy Richter Controls the Universe."
  • "Family Guy": Seth McFarlane's animated comedy, about a father dumber and crasser than Homer Simpson, is resurrected after its phenomenal afterlife on DVD and the Cartoon Network.
  • "American Dad": McFarlane's new animated opus focuses on a crime-fighting patriarch who's a cross between the "Family Guy" guy and the Hammer of "Sledge Hammer!"
  • "The Inside": A babe Fed goes undercover at a high school. Hey, it happens. Maybe.
  • "Hell's Kitchen": Reality competition set at a culinary boot camp.
  • Note: Fox had previous announced "The Kelsey Grammer Sketch Show" and legal reality series "The Partner," but they seem to have disappeared from the network's ADD-addled mind. (Grammer has an improv-based series coming to Pax.) The WB Last season was a disaster for the WB; this one less so, though even its acclaimed drama "Jack & Bobby" has yet to find an audience and, outside of the return of its summer success "Summerland," its replacement series are threadbare.
  • "Living With Fran"" Fran Drescher ("The Nanny") gets cozy with her son's best friend. Not a depressing psychological study, though - it's a sitcom, with a formerly more funny title, "Shacking Up."
  • "The Starlet": Reality competition seeking, well, you know.
    UPN Critical acclaim for "Kevin Hill" and "Veronica Mars" hasn't translated into significantly higher ratings for UPN; its African-American comedies lost momentum, too.
  • "The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott": Hip-hop maven auditions a baker's dozen of wannabes while on tour; the winner gets a record contract. (8 p.m. Wednesday)
  • "R U the Girl With T-Boz and Chili": Not dissimilar from the above series: R&B act TLC seeks a replacement for the late Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes.
  • "The Bad Girl's Guide": Jenny McCarthy stars in a sitcom adaptation of the tongue-in-cheek self-"help" book series.
  • "Cuts": Spinoff of Flex Alexander's "One on One" sitcom featuring Shannon Elizabeth and Marques Houston.
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