Fall television sneak peak--A look at some crazy ideas the networks are cooking up, like ''Homewood P.I.'' and ''Dog Years''

By Dan Snierson
Updated March 31, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
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Jonesing for some cool new shows next fall? Sorry, but Fox has passed on Shaft on Ice, an Austin Powers-ish sitcom about a cryogenically-preserved-then-defrosted 1970s superfly detective. And sadly, UPN said no to Gorilla World, a gripping drama about young lawyers who — oh, who are we kidding, it’s about a planet full of gorillas. But there are plenty of zany ideas still floating around (the nets announce their 2000-01 slates in May). Among the 100-plus pilots now shooting, we highlight these strange-but-true trends:

If you know the name of the sitcom you’d like to watch, press 1.
There are nearly a half-dozen pilots based on feature films, including Fox’s L.A. Confidential, CBS’ The Fugitive, ABC’s Parenthood (which failed as a TV show in 1990), and Fox’s National Lampoon’s Family Adventure. Sure, CBS’ gay-guy-rooms-with-straight-man premise á la Kiss Me, Guido sounds enticing, but c’mon, where’s Deuce Bigalow: The Series?

Murder, she rewrote
Jessica Fletcher…trendsetter? Gaggles of off-beat meddlers are taking a bite out of crime: a criminology prof and his Realtor wife (CBS’ Mysteries of 71st Street), a cynical journalist (NBC’s Deadline), and a present-day Sherlock Holmes with Dr. Watson (ABC’s Elementary). Even Tony Danza snoops around in CBS’ Homewood P.I. Suggested case: What ever happened to Who’s the Boss? brat Danny Pintauro?

But does it roll off the tongue, like ‘Homeboys in Outer Space’?
The suits at UPN — you know, the ones who brought you The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer and Shasta McNasty — are at it again. Though they nixed the self-explanatory Hip-Hop Bounty Hunters (why, God, why?), they’re hot for a pilot about three FBI babes posing as beach volleyball players, titled…I Spike.

Loser has to air on UPN
Fox is developing a series titled Battle of the Sitcoms. The premise: Two mini-comedies are screened for a studio audience, who then decide which of the two is funny enough to return the following week to take on a new competitor. If only we could use this system to get rid of Two Guys and a Girl.

This is your development brain. This is your development brain on drugs.
Before coming to their senses, Fox execs were considering Eternally Andy, an epic comedy about a nightclub owner who’s 3,000 years old. (Stop! You’re killing us!) The WB, however, is proceeding with Dead Last, a drama about struggling musicians who acquire the power to see the deceased. But NBC may outkook all with Dog Years, a live-action sitcom featuring a talking pooch. ”This is what happens when one dog falls in love with his owner,” states the log line, ”and breaks the code of silence to tell her.” A canine code of silence? Back up that Emmy truck!

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