A guide to notable programs (Times are Eastern daylight and are subject to change)
Having not learned a lesson from dragging out last May’s finale over two excruciating hours, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 (Fox, Sept. 13, 8-10 p.m.) inaugurates its sixth season with another double-length episode. Since last we saw them, Brandon has supposedly been working as a cub reporter at the Boston Herald, Dylan (Luke Perry) has been gallivanting all over the globe, and Kelly has been modeling in the Big Apple. Meanwhile, that vixen Valerie (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) has run amok in L.A. with her best friend from Buffalo, Ginger (Clueless‘ Elisa Donovan). But with the Walsh home about to be sold, the gang reconvenes to toss one last end-of-the-summer blowout. Hope no one spills anything.
ABC counters 90210 (and the debuts of CBS’ Bless This House and Central Park West) with the third-season openers of ELLEN (Sept. 13, 8-8:30 p.m.) and GRACE UNDER FIRE (Sept. 13, 9-9:30 p.m.). An earthquake hits L.A. and nearly demolishes Buy the Book, but Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres) and her buddies rebuild the store into more of a café-hangout (hey, kinda like Friends!). This episode was written by two of the show’s latest new executive producers, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, and directed by Robby Benson. Yes, that Robby Benson. Grace (Brett Butler) also gets a little shaken up when next-door neighbor Nadine (Julie White) asks to borrow an egg — for Nadine’s husband, Wade (Casey San der), to fertilize. Why do we get the feeling a baby will be born just in time for a May-sweeps finale?
Two of CBS’ few highly rated shows, MURPHY BROWN (Sept. 18, 9-9:30 p.m.) and CHICAGO HOPE (Sept. 18, 10-11 p.m.), ensure their standings by kicking off their seasons with high-profile guest stars. As you no doubt know by now, John F. Kennedy Jr. visits Murphy (Candice Bergen) to drop off a wedding present, unaware that her marriage to Peter Hunt (Scott Bakula) has been called off. Maybe Murph can give it to newlyweds Miles (Grant Shaud) and Corky (Faith Ford). In addition to new cast member Christine Lahti, Hope boasts an appearance by Rip Torn as Dr. Warren Shutt, the cradle-robbing father of Dr. Aaron Shutt (Adam Arkin). You’ve gotta love Torn (he’s single-handedly stolen The Larry Sanders Show this season), but you would think the natural choice for that role would’ve been Alan Arkin.
Family gatherings punctuate the season premieres of ROSEANNE (ABC, Sept. 19, 8-8:30 p.m.) and HOME IMPROVEMENT (ABC, Sept. 19, 9-9:30 p.m.). Preggo Roseanne asks daughters Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) to throw her a baby shower, but the polar-opposite sisters clash over the plans. Goranson’s return (she replaces Sarah Chalke) isn’t Roseanne‘s only blast from the show’s past this week: Natalie West also reprises her role as Crystal, friend to Roseanne and latter-day mother-in-law to John Goodman’s Dan. And back at Home, a cousin’s wedding takes Tim (Tim Allen) and Jill (Patricia Richardson) to a Michigan resort where Tim takes part in hot-air ballooning, waterskiing, dirt biking, golf, tennis, and fly-fishing. What is this, Home Improvement or MTV Sports?