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The Television Specials That Might Have Been


By all appearances, the big broadcast networks jumped on every reunion special they were pitched for this year's May ratings sweeps, which begin Thursday. But gossip has it that the nets were, in fact, selective, rejecting after careful deliberation a stack of proposals, including:

"TV's All-Time Stinkers and Jaw-Dropping Disasters." A cavalcade of megaton bombs through the years, including "Supertrain," "Pink Lady ... and Jeff," "Mr. T and Tina," "Life With Lucy," "The Brian Benben Show," "Central Park West," "Platypus Man," "Wind on the Water," "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" and "Woops!"

"Love That Bob: A Tribute to Robert Conrad." An hour devoted entirely to shows that starred or co-starred the pugnacious actor, including "Hawaiian Eye," "The Wild Wild West," "Assignment Vienna," "Black Sheep Squadron," "A Man Called Sloane," "The D.A.," "The Duke" and "High Mountain Rangers."

"TV Co-Stars of Actors Who Made It Big in Movies." Featuring Peter Scolari of "Bosom Buddies"; Pam Dawber of "Mork & Mindy"; Stephanie Zimbalist of "Remington Steele"; everybody from the cast of "St. Elsewhere" except Denzel Washington; everyone from the cast of "Welcome Back, Kotter" except John Travolta; everyone from the cast of "B.A.D. Cats" except Michelle Pfeiffer; and everybody from "Party of Five" except Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

"TV's Taboo Smashers." A survey of breakthrough moments in TV history, including Archie Bunker's flushing "terlet," Maude Findlay calling her husband a son of a female dog, and "NYPD Blue's" historic baring of male buttocks.

"The 'Mary' Reunion." Regrouping the casts of Mary Tyler Moore's 1978 comedy-variety hour, which included Dick Shawn, Swoosie Kurtz, Michael Keaton and David Letterman; her revamped 1979 comedy-variety hour, with Keaton, Dody Goodman and Joyce Van Patten; her 1985 newspaper sitcom, with Katey Sagal and James Farentino; and her 1995 newspaper drama, with Joe Morton, Kelli Williams and Gregory Harrison.

"20 Years of Must-Flee TV." Restocking NBC's vaunted Thursday-night lineup hasn't been easy, as evidenced by this retrospective of "Madman of the People," "The Single Guy," "Union Square," "Inside Schwartz" and other losers.

"Look What's Talking." An hour's worth of clips from series that featured animals with a magical gift of gab, including "Mr. Ed"; "Mr. Smith," a talking orangutan; Cleo the basset hound from "The People's Choice"; and Tequila, the bulldog, from "Tequila & Bonetti." (Now that the new CBS show "Baby Bob" has become a hit, don't be surprised if someone really proposes this last one for the November sweeps.)

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