Attention Tube Town dead-pool players: This week’s edition of The Only TV Column That Matters® is a roundup of all the fall 2000 season premieres left to come. Death Watch™ ratings: Higher the score, sooner it’s canceled—hip to it yet?
Gideon’s Crossing (ABC, Wednesday Oct. 18, 9 p.m.): Ex-Homicide Emmy-winner Andre Braugher is Dr. Ben Gideon, the head of a Boston teaching hospital who spouts reams of morally centered dialogue, brings hope to the hopeless and dispenses many an Important Life Lesson to his fashion-model students. Unlike other hospital dramas, Gideon’s Crossing is more about the cerebral than the visceral—that means it gots more thinkin’ than “Stat! Clear!” ER fans. Death Watch Rating (out of 10): 9. All viewers want from their hospital dramas is “Stat! Clear!” action.
Boston Public (Fox, Monday Oct. 23, 7 p.m.): After spending most of 1999 proving that even alleged geniuses (The Practice, Ally McBeal, keeping Michelle Pfeiffer) can make boneheadedly tragic mistakes (Snoops, Lake Placid, keeping that haircut), producer David E. Kelley returns with a high-school drama that’s more about the pissed-off teachers (!) than the fashion-model students. In another programming breakthrough, Kelley vet Fyvush Finkel (Picket Fences) addresses the nipples-on-TV epidemic by suspending an unacceptably perky student. DWR: 7. There’s no such thing as “unacceptably perky.”
The Michael Richards Show (NBC, Tuesday Oct. 24, 7 p.m.): If you loved Michael Richards as that eccentric Kramer on Seinfeld, then you’ll love him as … well, no one’s quite sure yet. The pilot’s been re-shot about 57 times now, but this much is known: Richards plays L.A. private dick Vic Nardozza, an eccentric Kramer-like gumshoe who now plays off his co-stars (including Saturday Night Live burnout Tim Meadows) to Seinfeldian effect. Test audiences didn’t find the original just-Vic pilot funny, prompting the question, “So how did Daddio slip by, anyway?” DWR: 5. While close, Michael Richards is not NBC’s most critically crapped-on new sitcom. That distinct honor just may go to …
Cursed (NBC, Thursday Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.): In the minus column: It stars Steven Weber (Wings). Several pilots have been reworked or trashed altogether. The show’s creators quit when they finally realized that the premise (swingin’ Chicago bachelor’s disgruntled date, a witch, puts a bad-luck hex on him … no, really) was as lame-brained as giving Steven Weber a show in the first place. It’s on at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, the Must-See-TV dead zone that’s killed everything from Jesse to … what were the other ones? It still stars Steven Weber. It’s on the same night as Charmed, that show with three acceptably perky witch sisters who would never go out with Steven Weber, making for better puns than Tuesday’s Angel vs. Dark Angel match-up. Steven Weber hasn’t gone away yet. In the plus column: Uh … DWR: 10—slowly, painfully, eventually. After enough episodes are squeezed out, good morning USA Network!
Freedom (UPN, Friday Oct. 27, 7 p.m.): The economy has collapsed, and the military has taken over America—what’s a group of kung-fu-fightin’ fashion models to do but start The Resistance and return the country to its constitutional principles: liberty, techno music and crop-tops for all? Amid all the Matrix-styled action, someone’s going to have to admit that Pat Buchanan was right all along. DWR: 10.5. It’s UPN, it’s Friday, and no one’s going to admit Pat Buchanan was right.
Level 9 (UPN, Friday Oct. 27, 8 p.m.): High-tech cyber-criminals are taking over America—what’s a group of computer-hackin’ fashion models to do but join the government’s super-secret Level 9 and fight e-evil? Sample action sequence: “tappity-tap-tap, tap-tap-tappity-tap [shift], tappity-tap-tap, tappity-tappity-tappity-tap [enter], tappity-tap-tap, tap-tap-tappity-tap [alt-ctrl-delete], tappity-tap-tap, tap-tap-tappity-tap—let’s roll!” DWR: 10.6. Hmmm. Don’t watch this, or don’t watch the equally cyber-sucky FreakyLinks on Fox? Decisions, decisions.
Normal, Ohio (Fox, Wednesday Nov. 1, 7 p.m.): What started out as Don’t Ask, a bizarre cross between Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride and The Odd Couple, has been “retooled” into Normal, Ohio. John Goodman (Roseanne) is still the big-boned gay star, but the other gay star has been replaced by a union-standard sitcom family. Due to numerous ongoing re-shoots, tonight’s pilot will be presented in the popular courtroom sketch format. DWR: 5. Like Michael Richards, Goodman can get away with anything—for a few weeks, at least.
The $treet (Fox, Wednesday Nov. 1, 8 p.m.): If the bi-capitalized FreakyLinks isn’t enough to drive newspaper-types over the edge, how’s about this Wall Street wankfest’s use of a dollar sign in place of the “S”? Yes, I was once a copy editor. I’m feeling much better now, thank$. The urge to kill everyone has $ubsided. Now, I just want to kill $pecific people. Making progre$$, one day at a time. DWR: 7, and gaining. As blue-chip drama$ go, Bull on TNT is a much better inve$tment—you $aw that coming, right?