What do you do when your network falls from first to third place in a single season? Panic. Then tear up your schedule — which is what CBS is doing next fall. Nothing is sacred; even Murder, She Wrote is moving from its longtime Sunday-at-8 home to Thursdays at 8 p.m., in an attempt to siphon older viewers from NBC’s Friends. (Cybill and the new Almost Perfect will take Murder’s old spot.) Picket Fences will air an hour earlier, on Fridays at 9 p.m., where it faces an uphill struggle against Fox’s X-Files. The network canceled Love & War, Hearts Afire, Northern Exposure, Double Rush, Women of the House, Due South, The Wright Verdicts, Eye to Eye With Connie Chung, and The Five Mrs. Buchanans. And it will add a mind-boggling 11 new series:
In one of several new ”relationship” comedies, So I Married an Ax Murderer’s Nancy Travis stars as a high-strung cop-show producer who falls for a DA (Kevin Kilner).
Can’t Hurry Love
The Facts of Life’s Nancy McKeon returns in a series CBS describes as ”a humorous look at friendship, love, and dating in the ’90s.” Sound familiar? ”It’s not Friends,” McKeon promises. ”It’s got a different cadence.”
If Not For You
Two more young lovers: Ragtime’s Elizabeth McGovern and Quiz Show’s Hank Azaria. The twist: They’re both engaged to other people!
Daytime talk-show host Montel Williams moonlights as a Navy SEAL-turned-inner-city science teacher battling drugs, gangs, and teen pregnancy. But can he defeat Wings and Roseanne?
Bless This House
Andrew (ne Dice) Clay and Raging Bull’s Cathy Moriarty play a squabbling married couple. Should set a new record for use of the word freakin’.
Central Park West
Mariel Hemingway, Lauren Hutton, and Twin Peaks’ Madchen Amick headline this soap from Melrose Place creator Darren Star about swinging New Yorkers. Will it be campy? ”Camp is in the eye of the beholder,” says Star. ”I think it’s more high style.”
A big-city judge (Patricia Wettig) deals with lawyers (including Robin Givens!) and other criminals.
John Grisham’s The Client
The book that became a movie becomes a television show. John Heard and JoBeth Williams assume Tommy Lee Jones’ and Susan Sarandon’s roles.
Wings’ Farrah Forke lands a job at a computer company populated by cyber-dorks, among them Peter Scolari and Corey Feldman.
The Bonnie Hunt Show
David Letterman executive-produces a semi-improvised sitcom about a Chicago TV reporter (Dave’s Hunt). ”There’s a loose feeling to the show,” she says. ”Just because of my nature.”
Evil lurks beneath the placid surface of a Twin Peaks-like town in a drama written by ex-teen idol Shaun Cassidy. ”He’s an incredibly talented writer,” says star Gary Cole (Midnight Caller). ”I was surprised by how dark the show is. But it’s been almost 20 years since ‘Da Doo Ron Ron.’ ”
Bruce Fretts, with additional reporting by Jessica Shaw