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From Theglobeandmail.com

Fall forecast - Looking ahead at next season’s network offerings (alyson mention)

By Andrew Ryan

Saturday 28 May 2005, by Webmaster

Although the dust has just settled on the last TV season, it’s never too early to look ahead. This is the time of year when U.S. networks announce their fall seasons and Canadian networks pick and choose the shows to fill their schedules. As in the past, it’s an exercise in broadcasters filling the void left by departing series — and trying to replicate previous successes.


The Tiffany Network closed the past season in the number-one position and seemingly with minimal damage to their primetime lineup; the only notable losses: Everybody Loves Raymond, Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia. CBS will add two new comedies to their sitcom roster: How I Met Your Mother, with Neil Patrick Harris (aka Doogie Howser) and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer regular Alyson Hannigan. And Out of Practice is a medical-themed sitcom starring Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler. You go, Fonz!

Otherwise, CBS is banking on new hour-long programs. Moving into the vacant Amy timeslot is the new drama Close to Home, with unknown Jennifer Finnigan cast as a lawyer. The new crime drama Criminal Minds is set in an FBI field office headed up by Mandy Patinkin.

CBS is also attempting two other hourlong experiments on their Friday-night schedule: Threshold is an actioner about a high-tech team investigating alien abductions. And Jennifer Love Hewitt talks to the dead in the new drama The Ghost Whisperer, which looks to be a direct clone of NBC’s Medium.


ABC is coming off their best season in years — thanks to rookie hits Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy — and has paved the way for the fall by canceling My Wife and Kids, 8 Simple Rules, Blind Justice and Less Than Perfect.

The biggest news from ABC is the arrival of Commander-In-Chief, a Tuesday-night drama casting Geena Davis as the first female U.S. president. Capable Canadian Donald Sutherland co-stars.

On the comedy front, ABC will debut Freddie, starring Freddie Prinze Jr. as an eternal bachelor; Hot Properties, about four career-oriented women looking for love in all the wrong places; and a still-untitled sitcom tailored for Heather Graham.

ABC will also unveil Invasion, a sci-fi drama mounted in the Lost ensemble-cast method. And a remake of the 1970s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, about an investigative reporter delving into the supernatural. Scary stuff.


NBC has a long road back. The network has fallen on hard times in recent years and ended last season in fourth place. NBC canned American Dreams and Third Watch, as well as The Contender and the spinoff series Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

All told, NBC will launch six new series this fall. The lineup includes one new sitcom, My Name is Earl, with Jason Lee playing a redneck lottery winner.

In new NBC dramas: E-Ring takes place in the Pentagon’s corridors of power and stars Dennis Hopper and Benjamin Bratt; the underwater action series Fathom is about a beastly sea creature; and Inconceivable follows the staff and patients at an infertility clinic.

NBC appears to have spent more time developing their reality programming. The network will run two editions of The Apprentice this fall — the original series with Donald Trump on Thursday nights and the much-touted sequel version in which Martha Stewart will hold court over a crop of home décor diva wannabes.

NBC also has the new reality series Three Wishes, in which gospel singer Amy Grant travels around helping the poor and downtrodden, which includes paying medical bills and buying homes. Call it Touched by an Angel — with a chequebook.


Fox begins next season with five new dramas and two comedies. In the latter, the family sitcom The War at Home is a companion piece for The Simpsons on Sundays. Also new: Kitchen Confidential, with Bradley Cooper (Alias) as a TV chef.

In new dramas, Fox takes a note from 24 with the real-time show Prison Break, in which a man breaks into prison to extricate his innocent brother. Also: Bones, starring Emily Deschanel as a forensic anthropologist; Head Cases, with Chris O’Donnell as a lawyer recovering from a nervous breakdown; and Reunion, which follows a group of pals post-high school.

And the big news: For the first time in years, Fox will enter the season without a single new reality show.