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Thursday's Returning Shows

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FRIENDS
With Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) engaged, expect many of this season’s story lines to revolve around the plans for their wedding, tentatively set for May sweeps. ”We haven’t inked it in, but I’m assuming it’ll be towards the end of the season,” says cocreator David Crane. ”I don’t know if they’re aware of the sweeps periods, but we are.” Chandler attempts to bond with Monica’s father, Jack (Elliott Gould), while Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) moves in with brother-of-the-bride Ross (David Schwimmer). But the path to the altar won’t be bump-free. ”Monica has been planning her wedding since she was 8, and she already knows the flowers she wants and the dress she wants,” says Crane. ”We find out rather quickly she may not get everything she wants.” Speaking of brides, now that Jennifer Aniston’s hitched to Brad Pitt, any chance of a guest shot? ”It’d be great, but it’s not something I’m holding my breath for,” Crane says. ”He’s a very busy guy.” (Oct. 12)

WILL and GRACE
As the Emmy-winning series settles into its new high-pressure time slot, Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) will move back in together after a year of living across the hall, and ”we’re doing our best to find love interests for both of them,” reports cocreator David Kohan. Jack (Sean Hayes) takes Grace’s old pad and bonds further with Karen (Megan Mullally) when they’re both caught shoplifting at Bergdorf Goodman. Hayes’ character will also debut his new cabaret act, Jack 2000. ”He’s had it with Just Jack,” says Kohan. ”It’s overwhelming him — as he walks the streets of New York, too many people are stopping him.” But the episode we can’t wait for is the flashback to the night in college when Will and Grace attempted to consummate their relationship. In addition to Debbie Reynolds’ return as Grace’s mom, the hour-long special (slated for November) will offer plenty of retro ‘dos. ”You’ll probably see Grace in a bi-level haircut,” says cocreator Max Mutchnick. ”And Will may be wearing some ‘Achy Breaky’ hair.” (Oct. 12)

CHARMED
In the season premiere: Barenaked Ladies! Unfortunately, it’s not Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), but the Canadian band — one of many acts playing Piper’s club this season. Taking a cue from The X-Files and Buffy, Charmed will delve into mythology as the sibling witches battle a demonic cabal known as The Triad. Profiler‘s Julian McMahon joins the cast as Cole Hayden, ”an assistant district attorney — or so we’re led to believe,” teases exec producer Brad Kern. ”There will be some question about whether he’s good or evil.” Wait, aren’t all lawyers evil? (Oct. 5)

JUST SHOOT ME
Romantic chaos breaks out at the offices of Blush magazine: Jack (George Segal) gets divorced from his unseen young wife; a new coworker may come between Maya (Laura San Giacomo) and Elliott (Enrico Colantoni); and Finch (David Spade) and Nina (Wendie Malick) deal with the fall-out from their season-finale hookup. After Finch’s split with Adrienne (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), he and Jack ”have something in common,” says executive producer Marsh McCall. ”They’re not just boss and assistant — they’re two guys on the prowl.” Segal and Spade in heat? Just shoot us. (Oct. 12)

ER
The overcrowded hospital drama will add no new regulars, but Sally Field checks in for a six-episode stint starting in November as the estranged mother of resident Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney). Carter (Noah Wyle), meanwhile, returns to the ER after his stint in rehab. “He has to deal with the shame and humiliation and reestablish himself as someone who can be trusted,” says exec producer Jack Orman. Don’t expect him to get support from any departed cast members, however. “We’ve said goodbye to Carol [Julianna Margulies] and Doug [George Clooney],” confirms Orman. And that goes double for Kellie Martin. (Oct. 12)

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