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Fall TV Preview 1997

A look at what’s in store for ”The X-Files,” ”Party of Five,” ”Ellen,” and more

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This season offers 13 new dramas, 20 new sitcoms, and one particularly intriguing trend: pulling a show before it goes on the air! Fox did it to Scott Baio’s sitcom Rewind, saving America’s critics some work and everybody else some indigestion.

Most of the other series, however, will have at least a couple of weeks before they face the ax, which means viewers will get a load of a few other trends: TV continues to be touched by angels (three new shows have spiritual themes) and smitten with The X-Files (watch for a couple of freaky supernatural series — plus, eeriest of all, Bronson Pinchot as an alien nanny!). And execs continue to gamble on tried-and-true faces, with the current crop featuring Kirstie Alley, Tony Danza, Bob Newhart — and, in UPN’s case, Andrew Dice Clay. It’d better work. This summer, a record number of viewers defected to cable, with millions of others apparently taking up those hobbies, schmobbies. We’re betting, though, that once again, you’re ready to waste billions of brain cells on a new fall lineup. Here’s how: