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COVER STORY

Let the Shows Begin

September 15, 2002|Josh Friedman, Daryl H. Miller, Mark Sachs, Scott Sandell and Jonathan Taylor

Most like: The more frenetic S.F.-set medical drama "MDs," and "Chicago Hope"

Major competition: NBC's "Law & Order"

What it has: Since it's not set in an emergency room, it can move at a slower pace than "ER," allowing more time to get to know the patients and to build empathy for their dilemmas. And the appealing casting is a plus.

What it needs: A shot of Adrenalin. Stat.

Thursday

Title: "Dinotopia"

Network: ABC

Time slot: 8 p.m. Premieres Oct. 10

Key cast: Michael Brandon, Shiloh Strong, Erik von Detten ("Days of Our Lives")

Behind the camera: Robert Halmi Sr. ("Merlin")

The gist: The series picks up where last year's high-rated miniseries left off, depicting a fantasy world where humans and dinosaurs live and work together.

Target audience: Kids, fantasy fans

Most like: Not much else

Main competition: WB's "Family Affair," CBS' "Survivor"

What it has: Unknown; the show wasn't available for preview.

What it needs: See above

Title: "Family Affair"

Network: WB

Time slot: 8 p.m. Premiered Sept. 12 with an hourlong pilot

Key cast: Gary Cole ("Brady Bunch" movies, "One Hour Photo"), Tim Curry ("The Rocky Horror Picture Show"), Caitlin Wachs, Sasha Pieterse, Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak

Behind the camera: Executive producers Bob Young ("Smart Guy," "Boy Meets World"), Gavin Polone ("Gilmore Girls," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Panic Room"), Sid and Marty Krofft ("H.R. Pufnstuf") and Randy Pope

The gist: In this update of the 1966-71 sitcom, a swinging bachelor and his erudite English manservant have their well-groomed lifestyles flipped loafers over hair gel with the arrival of a savvy teen and her 6-year-old siblings, boy-and-girl twins.

Target audience: It's a family affair.

Most like: If you still have to ask ...

Major competition: ABC's "Dinotopia"

What it has: A cool apartment that's more art museum than bachelor pad. And Tim Curry has a grand old time as Mr. French, who here is more of a fussbudget than jolly Sebastian Cabot.

What it needs: Viewers to hang with them when the curiosity/nostalgia factor wears off

Title: "Do Over"

Network: WB

Time slot: 8:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 19

Key cast: Penn Badgley, as teen Joel; Michael Milhoan and Gigi Rice as his parents; plus Angela Goethals, Josh Wise and Natasha Melnick

Behind the camera: Former NBC kingpin Warren Littlefield is an executive producer.

The gist: A freak accident transports 34-year-old Joel back to 1981 as a teenager to relive high school, knowing then what he knows now.

Target audience: Anyone who ever once uttered, "Tubular!"

Most like: A combination "Wonder Years," with 20-20 foresight, and "The Time Machine" ... not to mention ABC's "That Was Then"

Major competition: NBC's "Scrubs," CBS' "Survivor"

What it has: Shameless excuses to trot out parachute pants and new wave songs

What it needs: Better time slot

Title: "Push, Nevada"

Network: ABC

Time slot: 9 p.m. Previews on Sept. 17, premieres Sept. 19

Key cast: Derek Cecil ("Pasadena," "The Beat"), Scarlett Chorvat

Behind the camera: Executive producers Ben Affleck ("Pearl Harbor") and Sean Bailey ("Project Greenlight," with Affleck)

The gist: A misdirected fax sends an IRS agent to a remote desert town searching for answers, but the strange folks he encounters only generate more questions as the mystery deepens.

Target audience: Teens, young adults, "Twin Peaks" fans

Most like: "Twin Peaks," "X-Files"

Major competition: CBS' "CSI," NBC's "Will & Grace"

What it has: Through-the-looking-glass style to spare; multimedia clues help viewers play along at home

What it needs: To keep the weirdness from getting out of hand

Title: "Good Morning, Miami"

Network: NBC

Time slot: 9:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 26

Key cast: Mark Feuerstein ("What Women Want"), Ashley Williams, Jere Burns ("Dear John"), Suzanne Pleshette ("The Bob Newhart Show")

Behind the camera: Executive producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan ("Will & Grace")

The gist: An ambitious young TV producer agrees to try to turn things around for a ratings-challenged morning show staffed by an assortment of eccentrics--and a spunky head-turner of a hairstylist

Target audience: 18 to 55, or ensemble-lovers everywhere

Most like: Aspiring to "Mary Tyler Moore," "WKRP in Cincinnati"

Major competition: "CSI"

What it has: A solid top-to-bottom lineup of comic actors and some snappy writing

What it needs: To rein in too-broad Cubanisms

Title: "Without a Trace"

Network: CBS

Time slot: 10 p.m. Premieres Sept. 26

Key cast: Anthony LaPaglia ("Lantana" and umpteen other law enforcement roles), Poppy Montgomery ("Blonde," "Glory Days"), Marianne Jean-Baptiste ("Secrets & Lies")

Behind the camera: Executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman from "CSI" and Ed Redlich from "The Practice"

The gist: The FBI's missing persons squad, which is headed by LaPaglia, uses psychological profiling and detailed day-of-disappearance timelines to track down victims. An unseen but omnipresent 48-hour clock adds tension: After two days the odds of finding anyone become daunting.

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