September 25, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sure, it’s fun to guess which of the 36 new fall series will rise to the top, but what everyone’s dying to know is…which will tank first? Here’s a status report on each network’s dubious candidates, based on interviews with industry insiders.

WIND ON WATER (NBC)
After previewing this Bo Derek-in-Hawaii series, ad buyers gave it a perfect 10 — out of 100. ”It’s well photographed and has a good-looking cast…that’s all,” says Steve Sternberg, a senior partner at TN Media.
Possible Salvation
It is an NBC Studios production, which is why The Single Guy lasted two seasons.

VENGEANCE UNLIMITED (ABC)
This muddled Equalizer-ish serial inherits the net’s cursed Thursday-at-8 slot. ”It’s certainly the clunker in ABC’s schedule and it’ll be their lowest-rated show,” says Ron Fredrick, a senior partner at ad agency J. Walter Thompson.
Possible Salvation
A new time slot, a bouncier premise — nah, just forget it.

TO HAVE & TO HOLD (CBS)
This Boston-based cop-and-lawyer show has less chemistry than Marcia Clark and Mark Fuhrman. Up against Party of Five and The Drew Carey Show, it should do a bang-up job of attracting…elderly Bean Town women?
Possible Salvation
”Make some decisions. Is it a romantic comedy or drama? Right now, it’s a bore,” says Gary Carr, of Ammirati Puris Lintas.

COSTELLO (Fox)
The shrill barkeep comedy is ”a weak attempt to create a Rhea Perlman character,” scoffs BBDO’s Steve Grubbs. ”It’s been done. Next!”
Possible Salvation
Hey, Aaabbott!

MERCY POINT (UPN)
The outer-space ER knockoff faces killer foes: Just Shoot Me, Spin City, Felicity.
Possible Salvation
”Add Klingons and call it Star Trek: Mercy Point,” offers Sternberg.

THE ARMY SHOW (The WB)
”A bunch of Army guys and gals not playing by the rules — who cares?” says Grubbs of this lowbrow sitcom.
Possible Salvation
Drop and give us 20 — rewrites, that is.

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