Though the five-month writers' strike has pushed the start of the networks' fall television season into the early days of winter, TV fans will be introduced to some new shows as usual in September.
Local television stations and several cable channels have stockpiled an array of new and revamped game shows, tabloid-style news shows, talk shows and medical shows that, for the most part, have been immune to the ravages of the strike and will begin to hit the small screen as early as Monday.
Like the network's comedy and drama series, however, most syndicated, scripted-entertainment programs--such as modern-day versions of "The Munsters," "Superboy" and "War of the Worlds," along with new episodes of "Star Trek," "Friday the 13th" and "Charles in Charge"--won't begin arriving until October.
Public television also will have some new series programming in September.
KHJ-TV Channel 9 kicks off the new season locally on Monday at 8:30 a.m. with "Relatively Speaking," a game show that features the relatives of famous people, followed at 9 a.m. by the premiere of "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee," a lighthearted syndicated talk show starring Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford that has been a ratings smash in New York.
American Movie Classics will unveil the first new cable series of the fall, "The Making of a Classic," a weekly series that re-creates the making of landmark Hollywood films with interviews and old movie footage, on Sept. 8 at 4:15 and 8:15 p.m.
On Sept. 10, while the networks are introducing their new Saturday-morning cartoons, cable's Nickelodeon channel will launch "Kids Court," in which real kids' cases are tried before a jury of other kids. And KCET Channel 28 will serve up "Ramona," a 10-part series based on books by Beverly Cleary.
The biggest day for premieres of first-run syndicated programs will be Sept. 12--running the gamut from news to a revival of "The Gong Show."
The former consists of the highly publicized TV news magazine "USA Today," which KCBS Channel 2 will be showing weeknights at 7 p.m., and "World Monitor" on cable's Discovery Channel.
Overseen by former "Today" show executive producer Steve Friedman, "USA Today" will be a video version of the daily national newspaper, with features from the world of news, sports, money, health and entertainment. "World Monitor," produced by the Christian Science Monitor and anchored by former NBC reporter John Hart, will focus on significant world issues of the day.
"The Gong Show" will resurrect its showcase for weird talents (though without Chuck Barris as host) daily at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2. (Come October, KNBC-TV Channel 4 will counter with a 7:30 p.m. version of the revival of "Family Feud.")
Channel 2 will unveil two other game shows that day: "Sweethearts," a program in which three couples recount the details of their courtship and a celebrity guest must then guess which romantic duo is telling the truth, airing weekdays at 3 p.m., and "Wipeout," a standard answer-questions-win-cash game show that airs daily at 3:30 p.m.
The Black Entertainment Television cable channel also plans to premiere a viewer call-in game show, "Tell Me Something Good," Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m.
Medical docudramas that provide both the entertainment value of action in a hospital emergency room and personal health information will also pop up this fall. The first of them, "Family Medical Center," debuts Sept. 12 at 11:30 a.m. on KTTV Channel 11. (Another, "Group One Medical," begins on KNBC Oct. 3, to air Monday through Wednesday at 4:30 a.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m.)
Also arriving Sept. 12 on public television are a new season of the children's math series "Square One TV" and an interview series, "The World of Ideas With Bill Moyers."
Other new cable series due in September include HBO's "Encyclopedia," a 23-week series produced by Children's Television Workshop that features comic sketches and original songs, to premiere Sept. 19, and, on Arts & Entertainment, a 21-part dramatization of William Makepeace Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," produced by the BBC, starting Sept. 11 at 10 p.m.
More first-run syndicated programming will arrive in October.
Since KNBC is bowing out of the checkerboard sitcom wars this season, KTLA Channel 5 has just about cornered the market on first-run syndicated comedies.
Beginning the week of Oct. 3, KTLA will air new episodes of "Charles in Charge," starring Scott Baio, at 7 p.m. every Monday. Weeknights at 7:30 p.m., KTLA's lineup will include: Mondays, "Out of This World"; Tuesdays, "My Secret Identity," a new series about a boy who discovers he possesses superhuman powers; Wednesdays, "Punky Brewster"; Thursdays, "Starting From Scratch," a new show starring Bill Dailey and Connie Stevens; Fridays, "The Munsters Today," an all-new-cast version of the 1960s sitcom in which the creepy inhabitants of the cobweb-covered mansion on Mockingbird Lane wake up from a 20-year slumber.