A.J. Jacobs
December 05, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Who’d want to be a network executive? The backbiting competition, the shrinking audience, the nitpicky critics…the obscenely huge paychecks. Hey, maybe it’s not so bad after all. In fact, moving all those shows around sounds kinda fun! After donning our imaginary Armani suits, we came up with this overhaul of the Big Four’s prime-time schedules.

NBC CANCEL: The grating ladies of Monday night (but spare the not entirely grating Caroline in the City). Replace with those pleasingly grating women-of-Spelling-in-jeopardy TV movies. MOVE: The murdered-on-Friday Homicide to Wednesday at 10 p.m. Switch Law & Order to 9 p.m. and you’ve got back-to-back quality cop shows. STEAL: The Seinfeld-in-a-skirt sitcom Alright Already from The WB. ADD: The in-development Lateline, a Nightline satire from SNL‘s Al Franken, for Thursdays at 8:30; two full hours of legitimately Must See sitcoms — wouldn’t that be novel! DEVELOP: More dramas and fewer workplace sitcoms. Then again, NewsRadio‘s goofball, Andy Dick, is ripe for a spin-off: Call it Dr. Brock: Professional Dentist. STRATEGY TIPS: Leave the cloning to Scottish scientists. Focus on genre-busting shows — like Seinfeld and Friends used to be.

FOX CANCEL: The out-of-steaminess Melrose Place. MOVE: Millennium to Tuesday, and pair it with World’s Scariest [Your Subject Here] Videos. STEAL: MTV’s slacker sitcom Austin Stories. ADD: Significant Others — the twentysomething drama from the creators of Party of Five — into Melrose‘s old slot. DEVELOP: A cartoon newsmag. STRATEGY TIPS: Stick with the Clearasil demo; don’t try to grow up and take on NBC.

CBS CANCEL: Dellaventura (please!), Cybill (double please!), and Family Matters (but give Urkel a huge development deal). MOVE: The languishing Gregory Hines Show from Friday to Monday at 8:30 p.m. Bump Everybody Loves Raymond to 9 p.m., and you’ve got a string of heartwarming guycoms. STEAL: AMC’s Remember WENN. ADD: The Western The Magnificent Seven to the 9 p.m. Saturday slot. It’s a more fitting companion for Walker, Texas Ranger than Early Edition, which would work better on Wednesday. DEVELOP: Doddery Old People Say the Darndest Things. STRATEGY TIPS: Seek help for your fatal building-shows-around- overpaid-stars obsession (Ted Danson ring a bell?). Also, more smart family comedies — of the Raymond variety, not the brainless Meego type.

ABC CANCEL: Religion. Soul Man is laugh free, and controversy is softening Nothing Sacred‘s bite (HBO could do Nothing right). MOVE: The studly C-16 from Saturday to Monday at 8 p.m. — a perfect lead-in to equally manly football. STEAL: Nickelodeon kidcoms The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Files of Shelby Woo to de-sap TGIF. ADD: The still-untitled working-class sitcom from Roseanne executive producer Eric Gilliland for Tuesday at 9:30. DEVELOP: A Happy Days-esque sitcom set in the hotter-than-ever ’70s. And why not consider a regular Oprah Winfrey Presents movie Sundays at 9 p.m., right after The Wonderful World of Disney? STRATEGY TIPS: The Alphabet has some of the most distinctive shows on the dial (Wednesday 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on ABC is the real Must See TV, and good move sticking with the struggling The Practice). Keep it up. Coming in third allows you to take more risks.

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