The end of every TV season marks the beginning of an annual network ritual: creating next season’s schedule with an eye toward fixing old mistakes and avoiding new ones. Here’s a look at the strategies of ABC and NBC for September; CBS and Fox will follow next week.
With seven new shows joining seven sophomore series on the 1992-93 schedule, ABC’s fall lineup will be television’s youngest in every sense — heavy on family comedies, classy dramas (including the return of Homefront, Civil Wars, and Life Goes On), and kid appeal.
What’s new: Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper will nestle in TV’s most hit-making time slot (between Full House and Roseanne) and is described (we hope unfairly) as a black Three’s Company meets Welcome Back, Kotter. Stand-up comedian Mark Curry plays a onetime basketball sensation who returns to his neighborhood to teach junior high and contend with two roommates: a bombshell (21 Jump Street‘s Holly Robinson) and a buddy (Dawnn Lewis, who will leave A Different World to take this role). The producers of The Wonder Years will offer a grown-up comedy with Laurie Hill, about a doctor, her househusband, and their 5-year-old son. A year after departing Designing Women, Delta Burke gets a new ‘do and a new sitcom; in Delta, she’ll play a honky-tonk waitress with country-music aspirations. Camp Bicknell peeks inside a chaotic suburban home that serves as an unofficial crash pad for neighborhood teenagers. The indefatigable Robert Urich returns in his ninth (!) series, Crossroads, as a hardheaded lawyer motorcycling across America with his moody teenage son. Covington Cross will mine 1350 England for Robin Hood appeal via the tale of a knight and his four teenage offspring. And the creators of Northern Exposure head south for Going to Extremes, an ensemble comedy-drama about medical students on the fictional Caribbean island of Jantique (look closely-it’s really Jamaica).
What’s different: Home Improvement moves to Wednesdays at 9 p.m., creating a ratings battle with NBC’s Seinfeld. Room for Two moves to Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. And three dramas will shuffle: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles moves to Mondays at 8, Civil Wars returns to Wednesdays at 10, and Homefront gets TV’s suicide slot: Thursdays at 9, where its competition will include Cheers and probably Beverly Hills, 90210.
What’s gone: The Young Riders will hobble into the sunset after this summer, and viewers will soon see the last of Billy, Capitol Critters, Sibs, and (here’s the good news) Baby Talk. Although they didn’t make ABC’s fall schedule, Matlock, Perfect Strangers, FBI: The Untold Stories, and American Detective will return as mid-season replacements.
What’s an NBC schedule without Cosby, Carson, or The Golden Girls? Viewers will find out next fall, when NBC tries to regain first place with eight new series and the return of three promising new-comers — I’ll Fly Away, The Powers That Be, and Reasonable Doubts.
What’s new: Looking for the next Seinfeld? NBC is betting on Paul Reiser, a veteran of stand-up and sitcoms (My Two Dads) who gets the coveted post-Jerry time slot with Loved by You, about the romantic and professional foibles of a Manhattan couple; Helen Hunt costars. Rhythm and Blues casts Roger Kabler as a white DJ trying to save a struggling black radio station owned by Amen‘s Anna Maria Horsford. Viewers of Here and Now will see if the son also rises; Cosby heir Malcolm-Jamal Warner stars as a Theo-like grad student in Manhattan. Up All Night will feature Patti LaBelle as a landlady and dance-club owner with wide maternal wings. And the star (David Keith) and creative team behind last year’s Flesh ‘N Blood will try again with In the Loop, about a Chicago ex-con and his former best friend (Bill Nunn). NBC’s only new drama, The Round Table, will follow a young FBI agent, a naive Secret Service man, a novice prosecutor, and their friends in Washington, D.C. The makers of Top Cops will create Secret Service, a drama-reality hybrid based on actual cases. And after a successful tryout this spring, the doom-and-disaster hour I Witness Video, will try to woo video voyeurs from America’s Funniest.
What’s different: Viewers will have to get used to new time slots for half a dozen series. Law & Order moves to Wednesdays at 10, A Different World inherits Cosby‘s Thursdays-at-8 slot, and The Powers That Be will air Fridays at 8:30. I’ll Fly Away moves to Fridays at 10, the better to pursue adult plot lines, while Quantum Leap will try to attract younger viewers on Tuesdays at 8. And pity poor Reasonable Doubts, whose new home, Tuesdays at 9, puts it opposite Roseanne.
What’s gone: In a flurry of housecleaning, NBC has dust-binned The Adventures of Mark & Brian, Pacific Station, Nightmare Cafe, Dear John, Walter and Emily, and Eerie, Indiana. Hot Country Nights may become a series of specials, and Mann and Machine and The Torkelsons may get another chance as well, although nothing has been signed.