This is a tough week to watch TV. NBC's coverage of the Olympics is such a force in the ratings that the networks are being unusually timid about trying anything other than reruns. About the only innovation by anyone other than Fox is this week's experiment on ABC, which in apparent desperation is airing the pilots for such long-running hits as The Wonder Years and Doogie Howser, M.D.

Fox (Thursdays, 8:30 P.M. ET)


Most shows aimed at teens seem like an old person's idea of what a young person's show should be. Which is precisely why the return of Parker Lewis for its third season is so welcome. Few programs are as genuinely youthful in look and altitude.

Though it's centered on hip teen Corin Nemec, the show's plots are generally irrelevant. What grabs you is the stylized camera work. Scenes are shot upside down and sideways, giving the show a unique feel. And then there are the goofy jokes, such as when someone asks Lewis, "Does the word 'list' ring a bell?" and a bell goes off.

The program dropped the Can't Lose part of its title but is still a winner.

CBS (Fri, July 31, 8 P.M. ET)


In the pilot for Fox's Melrose Place, series regular Grant Show acted as if he harbored some indiscretion he prayed nobody would discover. This grounded pilot may be it.

Show stars as C.D. Coopersmith, an insurance investigator. When a race-car driver's wife turns up dead, Coopersmith is the only person smart enough to know she was murdered.

The rest of Coopersmith is equally routine.

TNN (Sat., Aug. 1, 7 P.M.)


This Nashville Network show exemplifies what makes Jimmy Buffett's fans so loyal. With his laid-back country and Caribbean music blend, Buffett successfully swaps songs and yarns with series host Jerry Jeff Walker, He comes across as an easygoing wit you'd like to meet in a bar.

CBS (Sun., Aug. 2, 9 P.M. ET)


This two-part miniserics, which concludes Tuesday and is based on a novel by best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford, is exceptionally dumb. Still, there are a few ways to enjoy it. First, disregard the murky plot featuring Lindsay Wagner as owner of a family department-store empire who must work with security chief Anthony Hopkins to fend off the takeover schemes of her evil cousin, played by Christopher Cazenove. Listen instead for Wagner's now-you-hear-it, now-you-don't British accent. Or try to spot the 18 different hairstyles that the network's publicity department says Wagner wears. You can even try swallowing such dialogue as "Exit high-powered New York executive, enter...woman!"

(David Hiltbrand is on vacation.)