Magazine article Insight on the News

As New Fall Season Shows, Executives Remain Clueless

Magazine article Insight on the News

As New Fall Season Shows, Executives Remain Clueless

Article excerpt

The new TV season has gotten off to a slow start, with Bill Cosby and Michael J. Fox making sitcom comebacks. A possible sleeper: Promised land, a show the whole family can enjoy.

Does anyone remember Blue Lagoon? How about Brenda Starr? Long before Brooke Shields pratfalled through the opening episode of Suddenly Susan, her reputation as an actress was, well, nonexistent. But, hey, that hasn't stopped Pauly Shore or Keanu Reeves from achieving stardom.

What Shields lacks in talent she more than makes up for in location, location, location. Her excruciatingly horrible sitcom, in which she plays a hip magazine columnist in San Francisco, has less credibility than a docudrama featuring Shelly Winters as Mother Teresa.

But what it does have is that all important piece of virtual real estate, the sweet spot in this fall's line-up, sandwiched between the network's top-rated Seinfeld and E. R. This lucky circumstance, combined with the rumor that many Nielsen viewers had misplaced their remote controls during Suddenly Susan's premiere, is the most optimistic rationale for the show's success, falling into the No. 2 spot for the week of Sept. 22. Or then again, perhaps it's the Elizabeth Berkeley/Showgirls phenomenon: entertainment so very, very, bad that you become mesmerized by its awfulness.

In fact, many of the networks' fall offerings benefit from the Orwellian paradigm of bad is good. Take Dark Skies, NBC's answer to the X-Files which, along with Millennium and Profiler, make up an entirely new category of programming--paranoid drama.

Dark Skies exploded its veracity right away: The producers were bold enough to set the show in 1960 with a twentysomething couple living together in the nation's capital--without the benefit of marriage. Never mind that the female lead, played by Kimberly Ward, was working for the first lady, and her significant other, John Loengard, was employed by a congressman. Then there's the interracial married couple living in New Hampshire. By the time the two-hour premiere closed with the revelation that President Kennedy was assassinated by aliens, the audience should have been prepared for anything.

But enough of the truly bad. Watching the new Cosby, which premiered in the No. …

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