Picks and Pans Review: New and Unimproved
THE BEST NIGHT ON TV: Seems to be Thursday on NBC. It starts at 8 with a new entry, The Bill Cosby Show, starring Mr. Jell-O Pudding Pops as a comic obstetrician. That's followed by three top-quality sitcoms—Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court, a promising show starring Harry Anderson, the funny flim-flam man, as a judge. The evening ends with the still-chic Hill Street Blues at 10.
THE WORST NIGHT ON TV: Has to be Tuesday on all three networks. CBS starts the bidding with the insipid After MASH. NBC beats that, hands down, with the mindless but moneymaking A-Team and Riptide. But ABC could win this season's booby-tube prize with its schedule: Foul-ups, Bleeps and Blunders and Three's A Crowd (that's Three's-Company minus sex symbols), followed by two new shows: Paper Dolls (more on that below) and Jessie (with Lindsay Wagner as a police shrink). Make Tuesday your bowling night.
HERE'S HOPING: That V the series will be as good as V the minis. You'll have a chance to judge that, since NBC will be rerunning the minis (chopped up into weekly shows) before it premieres the new episodes on Oct. 26.
CONCEPTS WHOSE TIMES HAVE COME: In TV jargon a show is "high-concept" if it is so simple (and thus simpleminded). that it can be described in one sentence. Here's the ultimate: ABC's Street-hawk, starring Rex Smith as a cop, a "daredevil on two wheels" (to quote the network) who rides the world's fastest motorcycle, "the ultimate crime-fighting vehicle," equipped with weapons and "hyperthrust." This is Blue Thunder without wings, The A-Team without T. Another high-concept but wholesome show: Michael Landon plays an angel who comes to earth to "spread little bits of joy" in NBC's Highway to Heaven.
TRENDS FOR THE TAKING: May the network exec who first thought of filling shows with bloopers and practical jokes be forced to watch them for eternity; that is hell well defined. They are back this season on ABC's Foul-ups etc. and its new People Do the Craziest Things and on NBC's TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes. There's also a new trend this season in fashion shows: ABC's Paper Dolls, starring Morgan Fairchild and Lloyd Bridges (Dynasty in the closet), and CBS' Cover Up, starring Jon-Erik Hexum as a model and Jennifer O'Neill as a photographer who are really crime fighters (very high-concept). The one trend that didn't take, surprisingly, is music videos. Only one prime-time show, CBS' Dreams, makes the tie-in with a show about a struggling Philadelphia rock band.
EXCUSES FOR CHASE SCENES: Oh, so many of them—Hunter, from A-Team creator Stephen J. Cannell, about a pair of "unorthodox undercover detectives" (that's certainly fresh); Miami Vice, about a pair of "offbeat vice detectives" (a variation on the theme); Partners in Crime, starring Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson as private eyes in beautiful San Francisco; and Hot Pursuit, about a woman framed for murder who's on the run—all from NBC—not to mention ABC's Honolulu Run (Magnum has new neighbors) and Streethawk.
WELCOME RETURNS: NBC's Thursday lineup, plus its Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere, and CBS' Kate & Allie and Airwolf. If you're addicted to nighttime soaps, you'll also be glad to know that Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest will be back.
A FOND FAREWELL TO: NBC's The Yellow Rose and The Duck Factory (the critics loved it but it was killed before it had a chance) and CBS' Domestic Life and Maggie Briggs.
GOOD RIDDANCE TO: Lots of deservedly dead shows—ABC's Shaping Up, a. Pablo, Fantasy Island and Blue Thunder; CBS' Four Seasons; and NBC's Real People, Mama's Family, Legmen, People Are Funny, We Got It Made and The Master.
There are more new shows. But so much for the fall; we still have the rest of May to go. Here are a few humble offerings: