THE NEW SEASON . . . SORT OF--All right, get technical.
It's true that ABC, CBS and NBC don't officially open their fall TV seasons until Sept. 22, the day after this year's prime-time Emmy telecast. Nevertheless, a week that introduces three network prime-time and five off-network series, while tossing in a new cable docudrama and a returning network blockbuster, sounds like a new season to me.
The first network newcomer is "The Wizard" at 8 p.m. Tuesday on CBS (Channels 2 and 8), a promising hour adventure series starring dwarf David Rappaport as a toy maker with special powers. Doug Barr co-stars.
NBC is using this week to give an early boost to its new Sunday series. So . . .
--"Our House" is being showcased at 8:30 p.m. Thursday (Channels 4, 36, 39), after "The Cosby Show," before moving to its regular time slot at 7 p.m. Sundays. "Our House" is an hour drama starring Wilford Brimley as a grandfather whose life is dramatically changed when his widowed daughter-in-law and three grandchildren move in with him.
--"Easy Street" is a sitcom with Loni Anderson as a former Las Vegas showgirl whose life also changes when she inherits wealth and a mansion and invites her scruffy uncle (Jack Elam) and his friend (Lee Weaver) to move in with her. It "previews" at 9:30 p.m. Saturday after "The Golden Girls." Its regular time slot, though, is 8 p.m. Sundays following "Our House."
Monday, meanwhile, brings a spate of new off-network series, beginning with "True Confessions," half-hour dramatizations "from the pages of True Confessions magazine," at 11:30 a.m. weekdays on KCOP (Channel 13).
Next comes "Oprah Winfrey," the hot Chicago talk show replacing "Tom Snyder" at 3 p.m. weekdays on KABC-TV (Channel 7). That's also the Monday time slot for "The New Leave It to Beaver" on WTBS cable, a first-run weekly series moving over from the Disney Channel and starring nearly all of the original Cleaver gang.
Also arriving is "Nightlife With David Brenner," an 11 p.m. weeknight series on KCOP that joins the ever swelling late-night talk-show crowd, soon also to include Joan Rivers, Dick Cavett and Jimmy Breslin.
And on cable's Showtime network, comic Garry Shandling stars in the premiere of a six-part comedy series Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
The returning blockbuster is "Winds of War" at 8 p.m. Sunday, a repeat of ABC's enormously popular 18-hour miniseries version of Herman Wouk's novel of the same name. Subsequent three-hour episodes air at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and next Sunday.
The docudrama is "Yuri Nosenko, KGB," a suspenseful and appealingly staged production airing at 10 p.m. Sunday on HBO. Tommy Lee Jones stars as a CIA agent in a complex story about an apparent Soviet defector. It may well be the best that this week's "mini" new season has to offer.