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Sound the trumpets

Forget the rumors of nonstop reality TV this fall. There's not a new unscripted program among the network debuts, just comedies, dramas and lots of cops. Familiar genres rule. Of course, it's not every year we get to see rappers, underwear models and God. Let the shows begin.

September 14, 2003




Time slot: 8-9 p.m. Premieres Sept. 28

Key cast: Danny Nucci ("Titanic," "Snoops"), Ernie Hudson ("Oz").

Behind the camera: Created by Jorge Zamacona ("Oz"); Aaron Spelling is among the executive producers.

The gist: A former street tough switches sides and joins the L.A. Sheriff's Department. But his street attitude puts him at odds with his no-nonsense training officer.

Target audience: That insatiable audience for men in a (cop's) uniform.

Most like: "Dragnet" meets "48HRS."

Main competition: Fox's "The Simpsons," CBS' "Cold Case."

What it has: The appealingly gruff Hudson and hints of leavening humor in the mismatched cops premise.

What it needs: Something to set it apart from countless other forgettable cop dramas before it.

Cold Case


Time slot: 8-9 p.m. Premieres Sept. 28.

Key cast: Kathryn Morris ("Minority Report").

Behind the camera: The omnipresent Jerry Bruckheimer and Shaun Cassidy are among the executive producers.

The gist: A female detective shows her mettle when she gets stuck with the unsolvable -- "cold" -- cases, and heats them up.

Target audience: Crime mystery fans.

Most like: "CSI" and its offspring.

Main competition: Fox's "The Simpsons" and ABC's "10-8."

What it has: An appealing leading lady and the Bruckheimer brand.

What it needs: Just how far does that brand extend?

The Ortegas


Time slot: 8:30-9 p.m. Premieres Nov. 2.

Key cast: Cheech Marin ("Nash Bridges"), Al Madrigal, Terri Hoyos, Renee Victor.

Behind the camera: Gavin Polone ("Hack") and Jimmy Mulville ("The Kumars at No. 42") are among the executive producers; director Linda Mendoza ("The Bernie Mac Show").

The gist: Indulgent Latino parents build a talk-show set for their aspiring-host son in the backyard, apparently an irresistible lure for show-biz types who actually visit and pitch their projects.

Target audience: Improv and talk-show fans.

Most like: The British series "The Kumars at No. 42" that inspired it.

Main competition: "American Dreams."

What it has: The most gimmicky of gimmicks and "The Simpsons" running interference.

What it needs: Entertaining guest stars who can roll with the format.


The WB

Time slot: 9-10 p.m. Premieres Oct. 5.

Key cast: Travis Fimmel (Calvin Klein undies ads), Sarah Wayne Callies, Johnny Messner ("Tears of the Sun"), Mitch Pileggi ("The X-Files").

Behind the camera: Executive producers Laura Ziskin ("Spider-Man"), David Gerber, P.K. Simonds ("Party of Five").

The gist: Tarzan, raised by metrosexuals, er, apes, in Africa, is rescued by his uncle, the CEO of powerful Greystoke Industries, and returned against his will to his family's home in New York City. After he goes AWOL in the concrete jungle, he meets a tough NYPD detective named Jane and goes ape.

Target audience: Abercrombie & Fitch catalog fans.

Most like: The "Spider-Man," "Batman" movies.

Main competition: ABC's "Alias," NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle."

What it has: Tarzan is prettier than Jane.

What it needs: Tarzan is prettier than Jane.

Arrested Development


Time slot: 9:30-10 p.m. Premieres Nov. 2.

Key cast: Jason Bateman ("Teen Wolf 2," "Valerie"), Portia De Rossi ("Ally McBeal"), Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor ("The Larry Sanders Show"), Jessica Walter, Will Arnett.

Behind the camera: Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind") is an executive producer, along with his partner Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Michael Hurwitz ("The Ellen Show").

The gist: A widower is forced to run his oddball family's Orange County real estate empire after his father is arrested for cooking the books.

Target audience: Anyone mad about "Malcolm in the Middle."

Most like: See above; it's also something like "Dallas" on acid.

Main competition: The final half-hours of NBC's "Law & Order" and ABC's "Alias."

What it has: Nutty situation-comedy storylines and screwball characters with funky names.

What it needs: A late starter, it will need to come out of the gate fast and maintain its outrageousness.

The Lyon's Den


Time slot: 10-11 p.m. Premieres Sept. 28.

Key cast: Rob Lowe ("West Wing"), Frances Fisher ("Titanic"), Kyle Chandler ("Early Edition"), Elizabeth Mitchell ("ER").

Behind the camera: Executive producers Remi Aubuchon ("24"), Rob Holcomb ("ER"), Brad Grey ("The Sopranos"), Bernie Brillstein ("Just Shoot Me").

The gist: An idealistic attorney from a well-connected political family is persuaded to give up his beloved role with an inner-city clinic to take the helm of a treacherously powerful law firm.

Target audience: Legal-eagle adults.

Most like: "The Firm."

Main competition: ABC's "The Practice."

What it has: A "Law and Order" lead-in, strong writing and an able cast.

What it needs: Time to win over viewers from a cast-depleted "Practice."




Time slot: 8:30-9 p.m. Premieres Monday.

Key cast: Eve ("Barbershop"), Ali Landry ("Spy TV"), Natalie Desselle ("For Your Love"), Eddie McClintock ("Stark Raving Mad"), Jason George.

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