First ABC and NBC unveiled their fall schedules. Now comes the competition: CBS will overhaul its first-place lineup with nine new shows, and Fox will offer an ambitious slate of dramas and comedies as the latest step in its expansion.
”Don’t call us the fledgling, almost, not-quite, wannabe network,” warned Fox president Peter Chernin recently. We wouldn’t think of it; this fall Fox enters the big leagues with 11 new series and programming every night of the week, up from five nights this season.
WHAT’S NEW: Fox won’t wait until fall to launch next season’s most anticipated new series; look for the Beverly Hills 90210 spin-off, Melrose Place, an ensemble drama about eight striving twentysomethings, on July 8. Come September, it will be joined by The Heights another youth-appeal drama about the members of a fledgling, almost, not-quite, wannabe rock band. And although Fox swears that the 90210 kids will finally graduate from high school next season, The Class of ‘96 is one step ahead of them; the series will follow the travails of seven freshmen at a private Northeastern college. Fox’s fourth new drama, Key West, takes a young writer (Short Circuit’s Fisher Stevens) to Florida’s southern tip, where he encounters quirkiness (think Northern Exposure), danger (think Twin Peaks), and long odds against survival (think Roseanne, which airs at the same time).
Martin has won the plum post-Simpsons time slot; Martin Lawrence (House Party) stars as a Detroit DJ whose motor-mouth gets him into trouble with his girlfriend (Tisha Campbell). The Walter Mitty-ish daydreams of a 15-year-old boy are the basis of the family comedy Great Scott; and Ben Stiller, whose self-titled MTV series won him acclaim as one of TV’s sharpest comics, brings his act to Fox with The Ben Stiller Show, a half hour of sketch parodies (don’t miss ”Cape Munster,” with Stiller as Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster as Robert De Niro in Cape Fear). Another sketch show, The Edge, offers takeoffs on everything from the Nielsen ratings to Designing Women; the cast includes another MTV veteran, Just Say Julie’s Julie Brown. Flying Blind stars Corey Parker as an office drone whose life becomes something wilder thanks to a thrill-seeking girlfriend, and Woops!, originally made for NBC, follows the last six people on earth in a comedy described as a ”postapocalyptic Gilligan’s Island.” Finally, there’s Likely Suspects, a crime drama in which a detective (Sam McMurray) keeps talking to the camera (that’s you, the viewer) about each week’s unsolved mystery.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT: Is it gimmickry or genius? Viewers will decide for themselves when Fox stages the fall’s shrewdest stunt: All 22 episodes of the Charles S. Dutton comedy Roc will be broadcast live next season.
WHAT’S GONE: Say goodbye to Get a Life, Stand by Your Man, True Colors, Drexell’s Class, and Hidden Video.