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CBS Makes Season's First Changes

October 05, 1990|RICK DU BROW | TIMES TELEVISION WRITER

CBS, off to a fast start in the 18-day-old fall TV season, moved quickly Thursday to keep its momentum by yanking the low-rated "E.A.R.T.H. Force" and also pulling the sitcom "Lenny" until it finds a better time slot for the blue-collar comedy.

Streamlining its schedule as it prepares to broadcast up to three weeks of baseball's Major League baseball playoffs and World Series, CBS also postponed the Oct. 25 debut of another series, "Sons and Daughters," and moved several other shows to new time periods.

"E.A.R.T.H. Force," a series about a team of environmental protectors that debuted Sept. 16, apparently became the season's first cancellation as CBS announced that it "has been placed on hiatus" and "had its last regularly scheduled broadcast" last Saturday.

In the case of "Lenny," another new show, CBS said that it definitely will return to the schedule in a different time period. It had aired Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

With the baseball playoffs a possible make-or-break period during the new season for CBS, the network--which has finished third in prime time for the past three years but is a solid second thus far into the 1990-91 season--appeared to be dumping or moving its ratings deadwood in preparation for a real run at No. 1 NBC.

In a key move, CBS Entertainment President Jeff Sagansky also pulled Dan Rather's successful "48 Hours" from its new late-night Saturday slot and gave it the important 8-9 p.m. time period opening the Wednesday lineup, starting Oct. 24.

"48 Hours" did well last season against NBC's 8 p.m. Thursday powerhouse, "The Cosby Show."

Now, "48 Hours" will lead into two other series upon which CBS is depending on Wednesday: the reliable ratings entry "Jake and the Fatman" and "WIOU," an upcoming new show about a local TV news operation, which many observers feel may be the network's best freshman program.

CBS also made moves to strengthen its Thursday and Saturday lineups. On Thursday, "Top Cops," a reality show about police stories, switches from an hour to a 30-minute format and goes up against "Cosby," "The Simpsons" and "Father Dowling Mysteries," beginning Oct. 25.

Also on Thursdays, CBS will move its comic-book entry "The Flash," which has started stronger than expected, out of direct competition with "Cosby" and "The Simpsons." It will follow "Top Cops" from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., with CBS hoping the carryover last half-hour of the show will draw viewers away from NBC's "Cheers."

Rounding out CBS' Thursday lineup will be "Doctor, Doctor" and another reliable ratings winner, "Knots Landing."

On Saturdays, CBS has revamped its 9-11 p.m. lineup after dumping "E.A.R.T.H. Force" and moving "48 Hours." Starting Nov. 17, "Wiseguy," with Steven Bauer replacing Ken Wahl, will be a weekly entry. Beginning Nov. 24, it will be joined by "Broken Badges," a series about an undercover crime-fighting unit.

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