SERIES PREMIERES--Two prime-time series and two daytime game shows premiere this week as soaring NBC and crawling ABC seek to improve their Nielsen standings.
The NBC entry--the network's first schedule change of the season--is "Blacke's Magic," a mystery adventure series kicking off with a two-hour debut Sunday night at 9 on Channels 4, 36 and 39, and thereafter running Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (starting this week).
Hal Linden plays illusionist Alex Blacke--who is continually recruited to "demystify" seemingly inexplicable crimes--and Harry Morgan is his ex-con-artist father.
In Sunday night's unpreviewed story, Alex is called in when a fellow trickster, The Great Gasparini, is murdered. Gasparini is sealed in an airtight coffin and lowered into a hotel swimming pool for five minutes, as TV cameras roll. The coffin is raised and opened, and there lies Gasparini . . . having been slain by Tiny Mafia. Just kidding. But the murder is mysterious just the same.
NBC, which is threatening to win the season's ratings title from CBS (which recently added Mary Tyler Moore's "Mary" and "Foley Square"), will premiere another series Jan. 26, "The Last Precinct," a comedy drama from Stephen J. Cannell.
Speaking of sleight of hand, meanwhile, now you see Redd Foxx, now you don't. "The Redd Foxx Show" was scheduled to debut on ABC this Saturday, but has been postponed a week.
Still on this week's ABC schedule, though, is the unpreviewed premiere of "He's the Mayor," a comedy starring Kevin Hooks as a recent college graduate who surprises everyone by getting elected mayor of his hometown. The show moves into the 9:30 p.m. Friday slot on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42.
"He's the Mayor" was originally planned to start last fall on ABC, which is revamping much of its prime-time lineup in hopes of aborting its ratings slide. Coming Feb. 2 on ABC is a Sunday-night anthology from Disney.
ABC continues to thrive in daytime, though, where the unpreviewed "Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak" premieres at 10 a.m. Monday, just ahead of ABC's new daytime "Love, American Style" series. Who is Forsyth? An "internationally acclaimed entertainer and comedian," according to ABC.
A team of males and a team offemales compete for up to $60,000 in this "rapid-fire word game." Contestants must communicate secret words to their team members without repeating clues. And the winning team can win bigger purses in the "challenging bonus round." How challenging? It boggles the mind.
CBS, meanwhile, introduces "The New Card Sharks" Monday at 9:30 a.m. (airing on Channels 2 and 10). The network calls this a "high risk, high stakes, humor-filled game series" where "thrill-seeking contestants can win a fortune with the turn of a single card." Bob Eubanks has charge of overseeing all this excitement.