Fall is back and so are a slew of new
shows that will be lucky to last longer than “The Magic Hour.” With
this guide through the vast wasteland of the new fall season, we
hope to help you avoid watching the next “Michael Richards Show”
and discover the next “Seinfeld.” To discover what shows are
premiering in what looks to be one of the weakest television
seasons in recent memory, follow this comprehensive preview …

Mira Levitan
(Photo illustration by Jason Roberts)

September 7-13

Whoopi – NBC, Tuesdays 8 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 9

Premise: Whoopi Goldberg plays a former one-hit wonder
diva in a sitcom set in a hotel bar/lounge.

Chances for success: Goldberg’s star power is on the
decline and the humor looks juvenile at best. NBC’s Tuesday-night
ratings have been waning and this does not appear to be the

Prediction: Whoopi will return to doing what she does
best; making “uplifting” movies as a singing nun or blocking with
her center square.

Happy Family – NBC, Tuesdays 8:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 9

Premise: Former sitcom heavyweights John Laroquette and
Christine Baranski unite in this comedy as empty-nest parents still
dealing with their grown children’s problems.

Chances for success: With bookends of “Whoopi” and the
declining “Frasier,” “Happy Family” better be as funny as HBO’s
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” to have any chance of surviving.

Prediction: Even with numerous Emmy’s between them, why
can’t Laroquette and Baranski spot a lemon? NBC sure is shaping
Tuesday to be a night of Must-Flip TV, especially with the addition
of everyone’s favorite “Good Morning Miami.” It has two likable
leads, but then again so did “Gigli.”

Jake 2.0 – UPN, Wednesdays 9 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 10

Premise: A computer technician, actor Christopher Gorham,
becomes a secret agent in a modern-day “Six Million Dollar

Chances for success: Genre TV often leads to failure, but
if “Jake” gains even a small cult following, it may be able to
survive on the desperate UPN. However, David Greenwalt’s other cult
hit, “Angel,” airs at the same time on the WB. There might not be
enough room for two genre shows at the same time. Greenwalt’s last
effort “Miracles” was critically acclaimed, but suffered from
public apathy.

Prediction: Poor scheduling may cause “Jake 2.0” to log
off prematurely.

The Mullets – UPN, Sneak preview Thursdays 9:30 p.m.,
moves to Tuesdays 9:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 11

Premise: From “The Simpsons” producer Josh Weinstein
comes the story of two brothers who have the same haircut and last

Chances for success: Centering your show on a redneck
haircut does not necessarily translate into viewers. UPN’s track
record with comedies leaves something to be desired as well.

Prediction: Has UPN not learned anything? Move over
“Shasta McNasty,” “Homeboys in Outer Space” and the “Secret Diaries
of Desmond Pfiefer,” UPN is still looking for a new lowest common
denominator. UPN will likely take out the shears and trim this
waste of time from their schedule.

Carnivale – HBO Sundays 9:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 14

Premise: Set in the Depression-era Dust Bowl, the battle
of good and evil takes the forefront amidst a travelling carnival
filled with freak show oddities.

Chances for success: With an outlandish premise and dark
undertones, it would seem destined for failure if not on everyone’s
favorite channel – HBO. This is the network that made a drama about
morticians talking to dead people a water cooler sensation, so
“Carnivale” should not be any different.

September 14-20

Prediction: It inherits the coveted HBO Sunday slot, like
it could fail. Millions of viewers are bound to make this HBO’s
next breakout hit. But that damn “e” on the end must stand for
something …

Eve – UPN, Mondays 8:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 15

Premise: Rap star Eve plays a modern woman going through
the trials of life and love.

Chances for Success: Joining UPN’s racially-fueled line
up of comedies might enable this show to succeed. However, UPN
should consider creating shows based on content rather than solely
the ethnicity of the actors.

Prediction: Eve should stick to her day job. Without
being on UPN, Eve would be in for a Ruff Ryde. This sitcom looks on
par with LL Cool J’s lame “In The House” attempt as opposed to Will
Smith’s success in the genre.

All of Us – UPN, Tuesdays 8:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 16

Premise: This comedy about a family learning to coexist
is based on the real life domestic situation of celebrity couple
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett.

Chances for Success: UPN Tuesday is sure shaping up to be
the worst night of television since … UPN Tuesday last season.
Smith’s previous sitcom foray was a hit, but he is nowhere to be
found on this lackluster effort.

Prediction: Viewers won’t be ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ this
show for long because it will have a short stint on the air. What’s
next, a crummy show featuring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson? Too
bad MTV already took that idea.

Rock Me Baby – UPN, Tuesdays 9 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 16

Premise: Dan Cortez returns to situation comedy as a rock
disc jockey fathering a young son with his wife.

Chances for Success: Cortez was mildly amusing on MTV,
but annoying on the insufferable “Veronica’s Closet.” It looks less
like “WKRP in Cincinnati” and more like “WCRAP on UPN.”

Prediction: This one goes out to you Dan – get a new show
now because you will need a job in a couple of weeks.

Threat Matrix – ABC, Thursdays 8 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 18

Premise: An inside look at special agents in the
Department of Homeland Security in their effort to keep the nation

Chances for Success: The action and espionage should
appeal to fans of “24” looking for an alternative to the comedies
and reality programming on the other networks. If ABC is patient
and willing to wait on ratings, then they may have another “Alias”
on their hands in spite of the not so “Friends”-ly competition.

Prediction: It will be difficult to be a “Survivor” on
television’s toughest night. On the bright side, the title does
feature the word “Matrix,” and this summer proved how little
content matters when that word is involved.

Luis – FOX, Fridays 8:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 19

Premise: Character actor Luis Guzman (“Boogie Nights”)
comes to network television playing the owner of a donut shop.

Chances for Success: The Friday schedule does not look
favorable for comedies, even with the moderately amusing “Wanda at
Large” as its lead in. Guzman is best known for being a humorous
addition to the cast, not a leading man.

Prediction: Guzman will promptly return to bit parts in
bizarre movies. “Luis” looks like it belongs on UPN Tuesday rather
than Fox Friday, and that’s not a compliment.

September 21-27

Two and a Half Men – CBS, Mondays 9:30 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 22

Premise: Charlie Sheen plays a jingle writer whose
brother and nephew move into his beach house.

Chances for Success: Following monster hit “Everybody
Loves Raymond,” and featuring a big-time Hollywood name in Sheen,
even a hackneyed premise won’t deter ratings. “Becker” is proof of
that fact.

Prediction: You have to be really messed up to want to
move in with Charlie Sheen. Sheen should really stick with the
drugs and the hookers, he was better back then.

Las Vegas – NBC, Mondays 9 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 22

Premise: James Caan stars as the head of a successful
casino set in the Sin City.

Chances for Success: NBC may have a hard time drawing in
young males during football season, while older audience may be
glued to CBS’s conservative programming.

Prediction: Don’t bet the farm on this one. It appears as
if it might “crap out,” even with Sonny Corleone, but the bright
lights could provide solid entertainment.

Navy N.C.I.S. – CBS, Tuesdays 8 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 23

Premise: A spin-off of CBS’s “JAG,” it follows a team of
military investigators searching for evidence connected with the

Chances for Success: Inheriting “JAG”‘s old time slot
will probably make it easy for the geriatric audience to continue
getting their fill of military dramas on Tuesday nights.

Prediction: In addition to the show being redundant,
since “JAG” is still on the air, the title itself repeats the word
“Navy.” CBS was successful with their last spin off and this one
should have similar success.

The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H. – CBS, Wednesdays 10

Premieres Sept. 24

Premise: A story about small town life for three brothers
is the premise for this new drama.

Chances for Success: David E. Kelley is a master of
creating quirky characters and situations. This appears to be a new
version of the classic “Northern Exposure,” but the “Law and Order”
juggernaut may be too much to overcome.

Prediction: Kelley’s shows often start strong out of the
gate, but then again, he also made “Snoops.” The main concern is if
the show can avoid the Kelley Curse of becoming increasingly

Joan of Arcadia – CBS, Fridays 8 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 26

Premise: A familial drama in which the teenage daughter
(Amber Tamblyn “General Hospital”) speaks to God in different

Chances for Success: It needs some divine intervention
and CBS may be providing it by pairing it with “JAG.”
Spiritual-themed shows have worked before for CBS, and this may
continue the trend.

Prediction: St. Joan must be spinning in her grave to
have her name desecrated in this manner. It’s a night of rest for
the televisions, so CBS may have to channel God on their own to
save this show.

Miss Match – NBC, Fridays 8 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 26

Premise: Alicia Silverstone portrays a divorce lawyer who
plays matchmaker on the side.

Chances for Success: Silverstone returns to the spotlight
in this Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) vehicle aimed at a female
audience. Following the debacle of “Batman and Robin,” Silverstone
is still waiting for her career to fully recover.

Prediction: The premise is extremely absurd and it only
appeals to young females and almost none of them are home on a
Friday night. We’re still upset about “Excess Baggage” anyway.

Hope & Faith – ABC, Fridays 9 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 26

Premise: Kelly Ripa stars in yet another program, this
time as a failed soap opera actress who moves back in with her

Chances for Success: Joining the new TGIF, sitcom veteran
Faith Ford and talk show host Ripa add name value to a ridiculous
concept. The block seems more family-oriented than in the past, and
this show fits that idea well.

Prediction: Kelly Ripa needs to return to her other three
day jobs. Nice work by ABC to confuse the audience even more by
having Faith Ford play, of course, Hope.

The Handler – CBS, Fridays 10 p.m.

Premieres Sept. 26

Premise: Joe Pantoliano plays an FBI agent training new
recruits in Los Angeles.

Chances for Success: If the “JAG” crowd can stay awake
past 10 p.m. on Friday nights, there might be enough of an audience
to make this show work. If not, CBS will have to rely on the
Pantoliano name to attract viewers.

Prediction: Didn’t this show come out as a movie a couple
months ago under the title “The Recruit?” The Friday night slot may
be giving this show the “Ralphie treatment.”






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