The Olympics are over, summer is dying, and that means that the fall TV season is upon us. Premieres roll out all this month. So what does the new fall schedule hold in store for us?
ABC—Best Show: “Desperate Housewives” (Sundays 8 p.m.) A colorful cast (Teri Hatcher, Nicolette Sheridan, Felicity Huffman) and strong buzz say this mean-spirited nighttime soap (narrated by a dead housewife) could be the water cooler show of the season. Worst Show: “Wife Swap” (Wednesdays 9 p.m.), in which ABC rips off FOX's “Trading Spouses,” or “The Benefactor” (Mondays 7 p.m.), in which ABC rips off “The Apprentice”: You decide. Strangest Show: “Lost” (Wednesdays 7 p.m.) “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams tells a tale of plane crash victims struggling to survive on a tropical island. It's basically “Survivor” with a script.
NBC—Best Show: “Joey” (Thursdays 7 p.m.) Or at least it had better be. There's an awful lot riding on this “Friends” spin-off. Worst Show: “Medical Investigation” (Fridays, 9 p.m.) This is such a blatant rip-off of “CSI” that it will almost certainly die an early death. Strangest Show: “Father of the Pride” (Tuesdays, 8 p.m.) I still can't get over the fact that NBC is paying $2 million an episode to show us the computer-animated adventures of the Las Vegas lions who tried to eat Roy of Siegfried & Roy fame.
CBS—Best Show: “Center of the Universe” (Wednesdays 8:30 p.m.) It's your basic working class family sitcom, but the cast (John Goodman, Jean Smart, Ed Asner, Olympia Dukakis) is loaded with ringers. Worst Show: “CSI: New York” (Wednesdays 9 p.m.) This may turn out to be well-written and well-acted, but CBS has gone one spin-off over the line here. Strangest Show: “Clubhouse” (Tuesdays 8 p.m.) A 16-year-old kid becomes a batboy for a professional New York baseball team. Is there really a lot of drama in the life of a batboy?
FOX—Worst Shows: Every single new FOX show is a reality show. Take your pick: “The Partner” (Sundays, 8 p.m.) A group of “street smart” lawyers competes against a group of “Ivy League” lawyers for a job at a prestigious law firm; “The Swan 2” (Mondays 8 p.m.) More pathetic gals with low self-esteem get plastic surgery; “The Billionaire” (Tuesdays 7 p.m.) Fox rips off “The Apprentice” with Virgin Records richie Richard Branson.
UPN—Best?: “Veronica Mars” (Tuesdays 8 p.m.) A 17-year-old high school girl who's also a private detective in a wealthy seaside community? It's the best UPN has to offer. Worst?: “Kevin Hill” (Wednesdays 8 p.m.) Taye Diggs stars as a rich playboy who suddenly inherits his cousin's cutesy-poo baby daughter. This sucked when it was called Raising Helen.
The WB—Best?: “Drew Carey's Green Screen” (Thursdays 7:30 p.m.) “Whose Line is It Anyway?” used to be funny. Maybe on a new network it will perk up. Worst?: “Commando Nanny” (Fridays 7:30 p.m.) It's a reality series. Use your imagination.