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Preview '93 : Falling Into Place : ALL MANNER OF FAMILY SITCOMS, COWBOYS AND COPS FIGHT FOR ATTENTION

September 12, 1993|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bronson Pinchot has been making "Trouble." Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric have been heard from "Now" and again. "Missing Persons" has been found twice and millions have seen "Eye to Eye" with Connie Chung since early summer.

While a handful of this fall's 38 new shows already have taken a bow, the four major networks are just getting warmed up. In the coming days, you'll become acquainted with controversial cops, a sensitive super guy, high-tech voyages to the bottom of the sea and a sleepless shrink in Seattle.

Certainly it does not take a mind reader to foretell that a lion's share of the rookies on television's 1993-94 roster will strike out by next spring. On the positive side, a fortunate few are bound to emerge as bona-fide hits.

SUNDAY

"TOWNSEND TELEVISION"

Sundays 7-8 p.m. Fox.

Premieres Sunday.

Filmmaker Robert Townsend ("The Meteor Man") is the host and co-executive producer of this variety show offering a mix of music, comedy and short films. One of the sketches in the pilot is a commercial parody in which three gents named Bobo, Willie and Fruity promise potential customers "protection from the 'hood." Cash, credit and checks, the trio tell us, will suffice as payment. "We accept checks 'cuz if they bounce, so will you."

For the record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 26, 1993 Home Edition TV Times Page 7 Television Desk 1 inches; 15 words Type of Material: Correction
In the TV Times fall preview edition Sept. 12, "South of Sunset" co-star Maria Polito's name was misspelled.

Shop talk: A genial alternative to video-driven shows on ABC and NBC, though it will draw no devotees of "60 Minutes," the king of newsmagazines.

"LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN"

Sundays 8-9 p.m. ABC.

Premieres Sunday.

Closer in style to the Superman films of the '80s than the TV series of the '50s, this whimsically hip incarnation for the '90s gives us an ambitious Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). In Lois' words, Clark Kent (Dean Cain) "eats like an 8-year-old and looks like Mr. Hard Body." Kent, of course, uses his powers for good deeds as Superman, while in search of a sedate family life. He's attracted to Lois, who keeps an eye on the suave, eligible bachelor Lex Luthor (John Shea).

Shop talk: Cain is a super choice as the Man of Steel, but can the show attract a broad base of both adults and younger viewers who will enable it to fly opposite the indomitable "Murder, She Wrote"?

"seaQuest DSV"

Sundays 8-9 p.m. NBC.

Two-hour premiere Sunday. Moves to its regular slot Sept. 19.

No ordinary submarine, "seaQuest" is a state-of-the-art deep-submergence vehicle whose mission is to patrol the oceans as a military peacekeeper while conducting research projects as a scientific laboratory. Roy Scheider stars as Capt. Nathan Bridger, the former attack-sub commander who designed it.

Shop talk: After a press screening in July, unkind scribes dismissed this Steven Spielberg entry as "Das Bomb" and "seaQuest PMS," referring to the hostile attitudes of the pilot's female characters. Executive producer David Burke ("Tribeca") is expected to strengthen the scripts, but that may not be enough to prevent the costly series, which has a network commitment for 22 episodes, from diving in the ratings.

"LIVING SINGLE"

Sundays 8:30-9 p.m. Fox.

Already premiered.

Queen Latifah plays the editor of Flavor magazine, a publication written from a woman's point of view. The Queen's court includes a ditzy cousin (Kim Coles), a shallow social climber (Kim Fields) and a take-no-prisoners divorce attorney (Erika Alexander). One thing these women can agree on is their shabby assessment of men, who remind them of cheap pantyhose: "At the worst possible moment, they run out on you."

Shop talk: Latifah, who gives the show a strong center as its lead character, is undermined by weak writing and a cast of broadly played characters. With "Martin" as a compatible lead-in, however, the series has a shot.

"DADDY DEAREST"

Sundays 9:30-10 p.m. Fox.

Already premiered.

In his second comedy series, Richard Lewis ("Anything but Love") plays a put-upon psychologist whose abrasive father (Don Rickles) moves in with him after being tossed out by his long-suffering wife (Renee Taylor). Not surprisingly, there is an abundance of insults in the Mitchell household. For example, when concerned son asks disconsolate father why he's feeling low, Dad's caustic comment is, "It's your mother's perfume. Smells like landfill."

Shop talk: Rickles' brand of in-your-face humor is anachronistic at best and offensive at worst. Ironically, such crudeness makes "Daddy" an ideal show, from the network's viewpoint, to follow the irreverent "Married . . . With Children."

MONDAY

"DAVE'S WORLD"

Mondays 8:30-9 p.m. CBS.

Premieres Sept. 20.

"Night Court's" Harry Anderson returns in a comedy based on the domestic experiences of Dave Barry, a happy-go-lucky humorist with a wife (DeLane Matthews) and two boys. Mom hates being the responsible parent and Dad, who teaches the hokey-pokey at soccer practice, thinks "life should be fun." It's the sort of laid-back attitude that has been passed along to his son, who says, "I don't wanna make a difference. I wanna be like you."

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