NBC Fiddles with Success as Networks Set Fall Lineups

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THE Big 3 networks have announced their fall schedules, with the biggest surprises coming from NBC.

The peacock network is tampering with its successful Thursday night comedy lineup, moving "Wings" and "Frasier" to 7 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, respectively. They will bracket "The Martin Short Show" (he plays a TV star famous for his zany characters), with "The John Larroquette Show" at 8:30.

"Larroquette," which had been on the bubble for renewal, is rewarded for holding its own all year against "Roseanne" at 8 p.m. Tuesdays. In the fall, it yields that difficult spot to "Frasier," the year's top-rated new comedy (at a cumulative No. 6 in the Nielsens).

"Dateline NBC," renewed not once but twice, will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday, with "Dateline 2" at 8 p.m. Friday.

On Thursdays, "Mad About You" at 7 and "Seinfeld" at 8 are joined by the new comedies "Friends" (a Seinfeldesque effort from the creator of "Dream On") and "Madman of the People" (with Dabney Coleman as a famous columnist and Cynthia Gibb as his daughter and new boss). The former "L.A. Law" time slot, thought to be a lock for Barry Levinson's "Homicide: Life on the Street," instead goes to "E.R.," a hospital drama created by Michael Crichton ("Jurassic Park").

"Homicide" was picked up but got the virtually impossible 9 p.m. Friday time slot, opposite not only venerable "20/20" but also cult favorite "Picket Fences," which gained ground in the ratings this year.

This is how the rest of NBC's new week shapes up.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, as a lead-in to the returning "seaQuest," NBC installs "Earth 2," set aboard an orbiting space station years in the future. "Earth" should be a good match for "seaQuest," which plans to turn more to fantasy in its second season. Movies follow.

On Mondays, "Blossom" returns to its old 7:30 p.m. time slot after "Fresh Prince," followed by movies. Wednesdays will lead off with the new "Cosby Mysteries" (the Cos is criminologist Guy Hanks), then "Now" and "Law and Order," with Sam Waterston taking over the lead role.

Fridays begin with a time-shifted "Unsolved Mysteries," followed by "Dateline 2" and "Homicide"

Saturdays have the new comedy "Young at Heart" (aging Gene Wilder has a young wife and twins) followed by "Empty Nest," the new drama "Sweet Justice" (Melissa Gilbert and Cicely Tyson as Southern lawyers) and "Sisters."

Over at ABC, the fall schedule is minus "Day One" and "Matlock," but both are in the wings for midseason.

"America's Funniest Home Videos" still leads off Sundays, but the new sitcom "On Our Own" (seven orphaned siblings try to stay together) replaces its "Funniest People" teammate. "Lois & Clark" made the cut at 7, followed by movies.

"Coach" moves to 7 p.m. Mondays followed by the new "Blue Skies" (two pals run a Banana Republic-style mail-order business) and football.

Tuesdays continue to feature both ends of the TV spectrum: "Full House" at 7 and "NYPD Blue" at 9. In between are the new sitcom "Me and the Boys" ("My Three Sons" for the '90s), followed by "Roseanne" and "Ellen" (the retitled "These Friends of Mine"). On Wednesdays, "Thunder Alley" leads off, followed by the new "All American Girl" (starring Korean standup comic Rosalind Cho), "Home Improvement," "Grace Under Fire" and "Turning Point. …