Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
ABC, 8:30-9 P.M.
Concept: The comic-book witch (dis)embodied by Clarissa Explains It All’s Melissa Joan Hart. The Scoop: Let’s get right down to it: How does Sabrina levitate? ”It’s like they put my body in plaster of paris and they made a mold of my back, the whole back side of me,” says Hart. ”And they attached it to a pole. They’re going to just lift me and drop me and…well, like, I wake up in the middle of the night, and I’m levitating, and I reach over to turn off my alarm clock, and I fall out of bed. Stuff like that.” Cool. Additionally cool: Sabrina’s dad is played by Robby Benson, who also directed the first episode. Bottom Line: A smart way to bolster ABC’s faltering TGIF ratings.
Everybody Loves Raymond
CBS, 8:30-9 P.M.
Concept: Charming, goofy guy, father of three Raymond (Ray Romano); nice wife (Patricia Heaton); amusingly dumbbell brother (Brad Garrett); Peter Boyle as Raymond’s dad — we love this show! The Scoop: Stand-up comic Romano is the freshest, funniest new face of the fall season. He’s also smart enough to worry about his supernatural competition: ”My daughter’s already said, ‘Daddy, if your show is on and it’s one I’ve already seen, I’m going to watch Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,”’ says Romano. ”That’s the show that’s gonna take us down.” Bottom Line: Hey, CBS — move this show fast so everybody really can love Raymond.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
CBS, 9-10 P.M.
Concept: Two (unmarried) spies, flirting and fighting with much romantic flapdoodle. The Scoop: Scott Bakula takes a quantum leap backward starring in this would-be drollery; costar Maria Bello radiates more intelligence than her dialogue implies. Bakula describes it as ”kind of a sexy show” but knows ”the writing is critical. People tried to imitate Moonlighting and didn’t succeed,” he says, hoping Smith will. Bottom Line: Sorry, Scott — this looks like Moonlighting for morons. And, up against Clueless, Dateline, and Millennium, it’s doomed.
FOX, 9-10 P.M.
Concept: A haunting reinvention of the serial-killer thriller — murder, mood, and (surprise!) morality. The Scoop: Because it emanates from the man who gave us The X-Files, writer-producer Chris Carter, this one is hotly anticipated — and worth the wait. Movie actor Lance Henriksen, who plays the hero, ex-cop Frank Black, promises, ”It’s not going to be a serial-killer-of-the-week [show]…. Millennium never trivializes the human condition. I’ve done $30 million movies, and the vision wasn’t there.” But, thanks to Carter, Henriksen says, Millennium ”has it.” It also pushes limits: The pilot has what may be the grimmest crime scene in prime-time history. Bottom Line: This takes over The X-Files’ old time period, so we can hope there’s a built-in audience for a different sort of leading man and the disturbing story lines he’ll pursue.