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Weekly Alibi 'Tis the Season

Networks Unveil Their Best (and Worst) For Fall

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 15, 1997:  The new fall TV season is fast upon us. Among the soon-to-premiere dramas, sitcoms and what-have-you are sure to be a few great shows and a hell of a lot of cruddy ones. There are, in fact, 15 new dramas and 21 new comedy programs assaulting the airwaves in search of a beachhead this fall. We've still got a few weeks before the networks start rolling out their big guns (or their weak, pathetic ones, as the case may be), but already the season has claimed its first casualty. Pity poor Scott Baio (he of "Joanie Loves Chachi" fame). Scott's new FOX-TV sitcom "Rewind" was unceremoniously dumped three weeks before its network premiere. Wow! Talk about a blow to the old ego. Most TV producers are praying their new shows get a warmer reception. So how about a quick, station-by-station look at the shows to watch out for this season? Keep in mind, these are merely predictions. Only time (and the viewing public) will tell which shows stink or swim.

ABC

The Best? "Cracker." Robert Pastorelli ("Murphy Brown") stars in this Americanized version of the critically acclaimed British cop show (starring Robby Coltrane) about a forensic psychologist. If this one captures a sliver of the original's charm and intelligence, it'll be a smash.

The Worst? "Genie." A sitcom about a divorced father who becomes master of a genie. 'Nuff said.

NBC

The Best? "Veronica's Closet." The peacock network is really banking on this sitcom about a woman who owns a lingerie company. The combination of its appealing star (Kirstie Alley), its sweet post-"Seinfeld" spot and the publicity generated by "lawsuit" rumblings from Victoria's Secret spell guaranteed success.

The Worst? "The Tony Danza Show." He's divorced. He's a sportswriter. He's Tony Danza. 'Nuff said.

CBS

The Best? "Brooklyn South." Everybody's waiting for the latest (and allegedly most controversial) cop drama from producer Steven Bochco ("Hill Street Blues"). Bochco rarely drops the ball on this sort of thing.

The Worst? "Meego." Bronson Pinchot ("Perfect Strangers") stars as a space alien who comes to Earth and becomes a nanny. I give this one three episodes before cancellation.

FOX

The Best? "The Visitor." Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, who gave us Independence Day, try their hand at the small screen. This sci-fi series concerns an Air Force pilot (John Corbett of "Northern Exposure") kidnapped by space aliens and returned to Earth with miraculous powers.

The Worst? "Rewind." I guess it goes without saying.

--Devin D. O'Leary


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