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The Neighbors

Saturday's new shows

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Dark Skies
NBC, 8-9 P.M.

Concept: X-Files on the New Frontier. The Scoop: One of the season’s more ambitious productions, Skies follows two young idealists (Eric Close and Megan Ward) through the 1960s. They stumble upon a government cover-up of an alien invasion that may have resulted in the Kennedy assassination and heaven knows what else. ”We’re not just about aliens,” says star Ward. ”The show unites all of the sightings, the investigations, and the speculation under one common alien so that everything — crop circles, people’s abductions, what people say [aliens] look like, all of those things — can be explained with our show.” Bottom Line: Sure, sure, Megan, but will it explain why that nice Dr. Quinn will probably abduct this show’s ratings?

Early Edition
CBS, 9-10 P.M.

Concept: Guy mysteriously gets his newspaper a day early; uses it to help newsmakers in jeopardy. The Scoop: Homefront‘s Kyle Chandler is the eerily well-informed dude. ”I like to think that any man, no matter how evil, if he got a paper that had tomorrow’s information, [would be] compelled to help people,” says Chandler. ”It’s not the intention of the show to create a superhero…. He’s not super and he’s not a hero. He’s just a normal guy.” Fisher Stevens chews scenery as the pal who now bets on sporting events and wins. Bottom Line: So, wait a minute — does the delivery boy come to collect a day early too? A goofy premise, but, nestled between Quinn and Walker, Texas Ranger, such moral-minded fare could be a hit.

The Pretender
NBC, 9-10 P.M.

Concept: A genius hero can pass himself off as a pro in any profession: doctor, lawyer, maybe even Indian chief. Paranoia bonus: He’s being stalked by the secret organization that raised him. The Scoop: In the pilot, the pretender becomes a surgeon for a few days, but star Michael T. Weiss says jokingly, ”If I get my way, I’ll be playing a colon specialist.” Weiss shows much more of a sense of humor than does his rather grim show. ”If there’s one role on The Pretender I won’t play,” he notes, ”it’s a TV network executive — it’s too scary.” Bottom Line: The producers should have let Weiss write his own dialogue.

Common Law
ABC, 9:30-10 P.M.

Concept: Working-class-born Hispanic lawyer dating coworker WASP copes with life in the ruling-class world. The Scoop: The Hispanic-went-to-Harvard premise gets stereotypical real fast, so this sitcom will have to survive on the minimal charm of its star, stand-up comic Greg Giraldo. He says the show is his life — sorta: ”I did go to Harvard Law School. I did practice law for a year…. I hated it.” Bottom Line: A dull show, and thus a snug fit following Coach.

Love and Marriage
FOX, 9:30-10 P.M.

Concept: A two-job couple copes with impossible schedules and worry about a poor economy and neglecting their kids: Start laughing! The Scoop: The couple is played by Tony Denison, star of the ’80s cult noir series Crime Story, and Patricia Healy, from last season’s Andrew Clay mess, Bless This House. Healy says L&M‘s lower-middle-class comedy will differ from Bless’ by not being ”mean.” ”It happens a lot on television, meanness and nastiness, and I think it’s unnecessary to go there. We can make it really loving and funny and sarcastic at the same time.” Bottom Line: The talented leads will have to work very hard to distinguish this from all those other family sitcoms.

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