Bruce Fretts
July 15, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Heather Locklear takes a shot at sitcoms on ”Spin City”

Here’s a scary thought: This season, I might actually watch ”Suddenly Susan” and ”Profiler.” I’ve paid little attention to these creatively DOA NBC shows since they premiered three years ago (hey, I’m a TV critic, not a masochist). But both are making intriguing roster changes that could alter my viewing habits.

”Susan” has cast Monty Pythonite Eric Idle as Brooke Shields’ new boss, who tries to turn her San Francisco mag into a Maxim-like rag for horny guys. The weak link on this sitcom has never been Shields, who’s merely bland, but Judd Nelson, who was obnoxious as her old editor. With the gifted absurdist Idle taking over for Nelson, suddenly ”Susan” could be something completely different: funny.

My problem with ”Profiler” has always been that star Ally Walker seemed creepier than any of the serial killers she hunted. Now Walker’s being bumped aside for Jamie Luner, who sparkled in such short-lived series as ABC’s kid-com ”Just the Ten of Us” and the WB soap ”Savannah.” Luner’s landing wasn’t enough to save Fox’s ”Melrose Place,” but perhaps this appealing performer can raise ”Profiler” in quality — not to mention ratings.

One of Luner’s old ”Melrose” cast mates, Heather Locklear, is making the switch to sitcoms by joining ABC’s ”Spin City,” as the Mayor’s new campaign manager. It isn’t such a stretch considering how ridiculous ”Melrose” and her earlier dramas ”Dynasty” and ”T.J. Hooker” were. Locklear will fill the babe gap left by the departure of aspiring movie star Jennifer Esposito (”Summer of Sam”). I just pray her character is more amusing than Esposito’s strident assistant was.

Two medical shows, NBC’s ”ER” and CBS’ ”Chicago Hope,” are also hoping that a hottie infusion will provide some much-needed Viagra in the Nielsens. ”ER” is bringing back Ming-Na Wen, who foolishly left to do the would-be Must See sitcom ”The Single Guy.” And ”Hope” is adding no fewer than four attractive actresses — Lauren Holly, Carla Gugino, Barbara Hershey, and Natasha Gregson Wagner. CBS might want to warn its viewers in advance to adjust their pacemakers.

Of course, these cast changes won’t make much of a difference if the writing on these shows doesn’t improve. Take the strange case of ABC’s ”Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place,” which is dumping one of its title characters — the pizza place. A bold move, but if the newly named ”Two Guys and a Girl” doesn’t come up with less stale scripts, even John Cleese couldn’t keep it from being TV’s cheesiest show.

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