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Commentary : FILLING 'HIATUS' HOLES LEFT BY SHOWS WE HARDLY KNEW (A FEW CREATIVE SUGGESTIONS)

October 23, 1994|FRAZIER MOORE | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here we are a few mere weeks into the fall season and the brand-new Fox shows "Fortune Hunter" and "Wild Oats" are only a memory.

And now with fellow newcomers "The Martin Short Show" and "McKenna" already put on what the TV world calls hiatus (a word that comes, fittingly, from the Latin hiare: to gape or gasp), gasping network programmers are scrambling to come up with new shows to fill the gaping holes in the schedule.

Here are some of them waiting in the wings:

* You may have noticed that no fewer than 16 returning series began the season in a new time period, in most cases on a new night. And they're still getting flipped around like burgers at a Dairy Queen.

So don't miss "They Went Thatta Way and Thatta Way," a new game show that challenges contestants to find their favorite TV series using only their memories and deductive skills!

Everybody ready? Let's play the game! For five Nielsen rating points, do you know which night "Coach" switched to? Can you find "Frasier"? Do you have any idea which shows ABC swapped between Tuesdays and Wednesdays?

Please, no help from the audience. Any ideas? I'm sorry, the buzzer means you're out of time!

* This season, the only Thursday-night casualties aren't lying on gurneys at County General Memorial Hospital. No, the doctors of NBC's new hit "ER" have broken the cardinal rule of the medical profession, "Do no harm."

If you don't believe it, just consider the hurt "ER" puts on its rival shows.

Now, on the exciting "ER" spinoff "Thursday, Bloody Thursday," watch the other networks bandage up their schedules.

Watch CBS' competing hospital drama "Chicago Hope" scramble to an earlier Thursday slot. Watch ABC's "PrimeTime Live" prepare to skedaddle to Wednesday nights. Watch CBS' "Eye to Eye," now opposite "ER," blinking back tears of fright.

There's lots of action, lots of suspence, lots of blood. But caution: Could be a bit gruesome for the kiddies.

* Instead, let them watch a new educational series, "National Geographic Presents Viewers in Flight."

It's a fascinating look at the migratory patterns of puzzled TV watchers hunting for their local Fox affiliate, which used to be the local CBS station, that is, until it traded with NBC and the independent channel started carrying ABC shows, after which ...

* "Quitters Never Win ... Or Do They?" This new mystery will follow the fortunes of a certain redheaded overnight success as he ditches a certain police show to try to make it even bigger in the movies.

Will about-to-be-former "NYPD Blue" star David Caruso go far when he leaves the show in a few weeks? Or just far down? Tune in and see if, hey, he's still OK.

"Quitters Neer Win ... " will be hosted by McLean Stevenson.

* "Unseamly Practices." With their so-called "seamless programming," the networks--especially NBC--have seized on the broadcast equivalent of run-on sentences which they think will help them keep their audience by sneaking past viewers a program's closing credits on a split screen with the stars goofing off or asking trivia questions then sliding right into the next show without a commercial interruption since after all you're just a bunch of chuckleheads and suggestible enough that without commercials to break the spell you'll sit and watch the same channel till Kingdom Come won't you?

* Finally, there's "Stop the Music." In an updated version of the 1950s quiz show, contestants look on sadly while ABC Entertainment President Ted Harbert trims or eliminates altogether the theme songs and fancy opening-credit sequences from his network's lineup of shows. It's all an effort to lop off precious seconds and keep restless viewers.

But who wins this game? That's unclear.

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