NBC, The WB, and UPN made the news this week

By Joe Flint
Updated May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Last week we advised the scheduling czars at ABC, CBS, and Fox on next fall’s lineups. Now we tackle NBC, The WB, and UPN.

First up: NBC’s Thursday night. Thanks to Will & Grace (which has posted better numbers than Jesse), the Peacock may have solved its post-Friends headache. That leaves one Must See menace — Veronica’s Closet. With Melrose Place exiting Fox, NBC should grab abandoned female viewers by pairing Closet with Suddenly Susan on Mondays. And here’s an idea: Keep perennial refugee 3rd Rock From the Sun in its Tuesday leadoff spot. Now that powerhouse competitor ABC’s Home Improvement is calling it quits, 3rd may revisit its debut-season glory days. Finally, resist the urge to relocate Friday’s surprise success, Providence, to a higher-profile night. Instead, NBC should add a second drama (the new thirtysomething saga Cold Feet, perhaps?) to make Friday nights safe for adults again.

The WB’s dramas are zipping along, but there’s little humor in the net’s comedy situation. Word is Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane will return next fall. If so, the comedy needs retooling and a cure for its Sunday blues. How’s this? Instead of 7th Heaven repeats, lead off Sunday with a new hip drama (say Dick Wolf’s political soap DC or high school drama Popular) that can lure in a young audience. Hey, it worked when Fox’s 21 Jump Street boosted America’s Most Wanted and Married…With Children. The net’s Buffy spin-off, Angel, makes a natural lead-out to the vampire slayer on Tuesdays, allowing the displaced Felicity to more logically follow Wednesday’s Dawson’s Creek. As for Charmed, it could work Mondays after Heaven.

We’ll keep it simple for UPN: Dilbert was a mini-success on Mondays, so build around it with irreverent comedies such as animated newcomer Home Movies. And since Tuesdays find comedies on ABC, NBC, and Fox, The WB wooing teen girls, and CBS’ JAG attracting an older audience, it’s the perfect time to court young males with its buzzed-about Vegas detective drama The Strip. Oh yeah, one last thing: Pray.