Dan Snierson
October 06, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hey, kids: Wanna play ”Survivor” again? No, we’re not talking about those CBS reruns. Every fall, the networks launch dozens of new series, few of which ever stick. So, as a service to the time-pressed masses, we present our third annual predictions of which show each network will whack first, based on industry chatter.

YES, DEAR (CBS)
Mike O’Malley — whose self-titled sitcom was the first show NBC dumped last season — could go two-for-two, thanks to this couples-with-kids setup that sticks out like a bad punchline on the net’s otherwise solid Monday night. ”No thank you,” says ad-buying agency Western Initiative Media’s Tim Spengler. ”Not an original premise, not a funny script.”

FREAKYLINKS (FOX)
Umm, it’s about this guy who runs a paranormal website and, like, he’s trying to solve his twin brother’s murder — or maybe it’s just a conspiracy — and then all this weird stuff happens. Now are you willing to cancel your Friday-night plans? ”Fox has tried before with this genre, and it didn’t work,” notes Mindshare’s Dana Friedman.

THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL (ABC)
Most industry types find this Jon Cryer sitcom about four paranoid dudes and their fresh-faced therapist about as humorous as a Thorazine injection. ”The trouble with this show goes beyond the characters’ problems,” says OMD USA’s Mike Greco, noting that Normal was scheduled on a weak, revamped Friday night.

TUCKER (NBC)
An edgy family-com told through the eyes of a self-aware adolescent? Sound familiar? ”It’s a Malcolm in the Middle clone, and clones never do as well as the original,” observes TN Media’s Steve Sternberg. ”And they’re sticking it after Daddio, which doesn’t do well.”

NIKKI (WB)
This bizarre comedy — put in a cutthroat Sunday slot and starring Nikki Cox as a Vegas dancer who marries a pro-wrestler wannabe — is being body-slammed by Madison Ave. ”The buzz on this one,” says Universal McCann’s Bill Cella, ”is that the whole concept is ridiculous.”

FREEDOM (UPN)
The majority of folks we canvassed said it’s a close call between two shows nobody’s talking about: UPN’s Friday action hours Freedom and Level 9. This left us no choice but to implement a slightly less scientific method: In a best-of-seven coin toss, Freedom edged out Level 9 four to two.

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