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The Week

A guide to notable programs (times are Eastern daylight and are subject to change)

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Premieres

Nearly four months after Kimberly (Marcia Cross) pushed the button, we’ll finally see the big bang — or at least the after effects — on the fourth-season premiere of MELROSE PLACE (Fox, Sept. 11, 8-9 p.m.). Don’t expect any regular characters to perish in the blast, though blotto Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) is temporarily blinded, and Billy (Andrew Shue) comes to her aid, much to the dismay of his new bride, Brooke (Kristin Davis). Also, building-diving brothers Jake (Grant Show) and Jess (Dan Cortese) hit the ground (guess which one doesn’t get up), and frame-up victim Matt (Doug Savant) calls his parents to help get him out of the slammer. And on Sept. 20, look for a special 100th episode, which just happens to air opposite Melrose creator Darren Star’s new CBS soap, Central Park West.

His post-Bad Boys status as a bona fide movie star notwithstanding, Martin Lawrence couldn’t keep his sitcom, MARTIN (Fox, Sept. 9, 8-8:30 p.m.), from being shunted to a low-profile Saturday slot. In the fourth-season opener, newly wed Martin catches hell from Gina (Tisha Campbell) after he loses a bundle to a pool-hall hustler. Lawrence’s Boomerang costar, David Alan Grier, stars in the new sitcom paired with Martin, THE PRESTON EPISODES (Fox, Sept. 9, 8:30-9 p.m.). The In Living Color alum plays a professor on the rebound from a bad marriage who takes a job as a caption writer at ”a People-like, puff-piece magazine called Stuff.” Fox’s words, not ours.

It’ll compete with Martin on Saturday nights starting Sept. 16, but THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW (ABC, Sept. 12, 8:30-9 p.m.) gets a one-time-only Tuesday preview. The self-proclaimed redneck comic’s new show casts him as a Southerner who’s transplanted to the Midwest with his wife (Anita Barone) and young son (Thunder Alley smurf Haley Joel Osment). Meanwhile, COACH (ABC, Sept. 12, 9:30-10 p.m.) kicks off its eighth season (we kid you not) by moving in the opposite direction — from the Midwest (Minneapolis) to the South (Orlando), where Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson) takes over an NFL team owned by Soap‘s Katherine Helmond. Pray she’s not a love interest for Jerry Van Dyke.

Taking the bold step of adding a second night of programming to its schedule, The WB introduces three nondescript new sitcoms, SIMON (Sept. 10, 8:30-9 p.m.), FIRST TIME OUT (Sept. 10, 9-9:30 p.m.), and CLEGHORNE! (Sept. 10, 9:30-10 p.m.). Simon stars stand-up Harland Williams as borderline idiot savant Simon Himple, who lives in Harlem with his divorced brother (The Hogan Family‘s Jason Bateman) and works for a Nick at Nite-like TV network. Zaftig Jackie Guerra headlines First Time Out as a receptionist with a pair of Friends-like roomies. In the pilot, Jackie dates a guy with Tourette’s syndrome! And Queen Shaniqua meets Chico Escuela as Ellen Cleghorne’s self-titled vehicle features fellow SNL vet Garrett Morris as her postal-worker pop.