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The Season: No Rx to Curb Cable

Cosby, Tomlin on CBS Tonight

September 16, 1996|BRIAN LOWRY

The Highlights: CBS introduces Bill Cosby's new show "Cosby" at 8 p.m., and the other networks--assuming many viewers will be curious enough to tune in--have largely gotten out of the way. NBC, for example, offers a "TV's Censored Bloopers" special as competition, holding "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" until next week.

Projections vary for "Cosby's" premiere, but insiders see about 25% of the available audience as the number to watch. Higher than that would be impressive for a new show--even with such a recognizable star--in today's environment, while a significant shortfall would give cause for some concern based on "Cosby's" overall strategic importance to CBS and the promotional weight behind it. The real test will be how many viewers the series retains in subsequent weeks.

CBS' Monday lineup also has the premiere of the Rhea Perlman comedy "Pearl," which follows "Cosby" at 8:30 (at least until Ted Danson's sitcom "Ink" is ready); Lily Tomlin joining "Murphy Brown" at 9 and "Cybill" returning to the post-"Murphy" slot at 9:30 after slugging it out for a year against "Mad About You" and "The Simpsons" on Sundays. "Chicago Hope" also opens its third season at 10.

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Elsewhere: Several syndicated programs debut today, including two talk shows: "Pat Bullard," hosted by a stand-up comic (10 a.m., Channel 5), and "The Bradshaw Difference," relegated to 12:30 a.m. on Channel 13. Other new arrivals are the video-clip show "Real TV" (6:30 p.m., Channel 9) and "Strange Universe," a magazine highlighting the paranormal and bizarre visiting Earth by way of Channel 13 at 11:30 p.m.

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