Sizing up the new fall season
After spending hundreds of millions of dollars on development programs for new television series, the three commercial television networks have finally announced their choices for the 1980-81 TV season which starts in September.
American TV viewers can look forward to 16 new series, six from ABC and five each from CBS and NBC.
But don't expect anything very innovative. It's just more of what you have been getting for the past three years -- with a bit of a switch here and there. ABC, now the No. 2 network after CBS, is still gung-ho for comedy, much of it reminiscent of last year's ABC comedies -- or, even worse, comedies of the past decades. Here are the six new ABC series with short descriptions of them. Although most have been given time slots as of this past week, chances are that there will be many changes before the season actually begins in mid-September. ABC
"Those Amazing Animals" sounds like another "That's Incredible," but this time about animals rather then people. As of the moment this show is scheduled to air opposite "60 Minutes." You might call it desperation.
"Too Close for Comfort" is a Ted Knight vehicle (you remember him from the "Mary Tyler Moore Show"). He plays a nervous father (what else?) of two beautiful young daughters. The BIG switch is that they live in the apartment below him. Well, how much innovation can you expect at one time? "Bosom Buddies" is what ABC calls a "hilarious comedy about the adventures of two struggling young advertising men who take up residence in disguise in an all-women's hotel." Shades of "Some Like It Hot" -- who says the season is not a drag!
"It's a Living" goes "Alice" and "Flo" three better: it's about FIVE waitresses in a restaurant.
"But I'm a Big Girl Now" is about a divorced mother who takes in her interfering father whose wife has just run off with his best friend. Would you repeat that please, ABC? Danny Thomas stars, by the way.
"Breaking Away" is a one-hour series based upon the critically acclaimed movie of the same name. Naturally the star of the film, Dennis Christopher, is not in the TV series which stars young Mr. Partridge-Hardy, Shaun Cassidy. CBS
"Ladies Man" concerns a bachelor father working at a woman's magazine. You know the rest.
"Enos" is a spinoff from CBS's great cultural achievement of last season, "The Dukes of Hazard." Enos is recruited for a special Los Angeles police department metro squad. He has a black partner and, once again, you know the rest.
"Magnum, P.I." concerns Hawaii. Well, something had to replace the enormous vaccuum left by the demise of "Hawaii Five-O."
"Freebie and the Bean" is about two street-wise police sergeants in San Francisco. If you don't know the rest mayby you're a good prospect to watch the series.
"Secrets of Midland Heights" concerns a small college town with all those amazing things that happened behind the closed doors of Payton Place. NBC
"Harper Valley PTA" graguates from record to motion picture to movie of the week to the utter heights of a TV series. Surprise of surprises, Barbara Eden re-creates her starring role.
"Flamingo Road," based on an old Joan Crawford movie, sounds like an old Joan Crawford movie -- scandal in a small town, greed, jealousy, romance, intrigue, and all that jazz.
"Thursday Games" is a sport show for the average sports fan -- no stars, only real people having fun. Well, it cuts the cost of stars anyway.
"Speak Up, America" was tried recently and follows the concept of confusing reality with fiction. Supposedly real people tell what they think so fast you may forget to wonder how much they have been coached.
"Hill Street Blues" is a police comedy-drama. The only thing going for it is the fact that it comes from MTM Enterprises who gave you "The MTM Show." Sounds like a combination of "Taxi" and "Barney Miller." Maybe they can work MTM herself into it.
In addition to these series there are specials too numerous and tentative to mention. And many of your old favorites will be back, but few of last year's new ones.
Meantime, it's time to roll ye olde tube into the closet for summer and decide in September whether or not you want to bring it out again.