Bring on the Bench Warmers: Meet the Year's First 'Midseason' TV Replacements. Let's Hope They're Better Than What They've Replaced
Peyser, Marc, Newsweek
In television, there's no shame in playing second string. In fact, some of the biggest hits in history--"All in the Family," "Happy Days"--only made it on the air to fill a hole when a fall program stumbled. The TV industry calls these bench warmers "midseason replacements," and with the networks' hyperitchy trigger fingers, expect to see a lot of them in the next several weeks. Of course, this year's 500-pound "replacement" is CBS's "Survivor 2," which debuts Jan. 28. While you're waiting to see what kind of nasty tricks the new cast of castaways plays on each other, here's a guide to the midseason shows premiering this week. Let's hope, for all our sakes, that they last longer than "Tucker."
'Grounded for Life,' Fox
Fox is not the kind of network that usually inspires grown-up words like "trilogy," but "Grounded for Life" is part of one--the Dysfunctional Family Trilogy. Following in the footsteps of "The Simpsons" and "Malcolm in the Middle," "Grounded" (debuting Jan. 10) is about two parents who act like kids. In part, that's because the parents (Donal Logue and Megyn Price) are 32-year-olds raising a teenage daughter and two younger sons. But they're also, in the true spirit of Homer Simpson, congenitally juvenile. He gets off on watching people make out in cars--until he discovers that the smoocher is his own kid. She's a babe with supersexy clothes and with-out a clue about discipline. Quick-witted and raunchy in the best Fox tradition, "Grounded" has the makings of the best new sitcom of the year.
'Three Sisters,' NBC
It's hard to say what's more galling: the fact that NBC is foisting another annoying sitcom on us or the nerve of naming the lame "Three Sisters" after a play by Chekhov. There doesn't seem to be any reason for the dramatic allusion, except to provide another example of the show's thinking it's more clever than it is. "Three Sisters" (Jan. 9) is narrated by Steven (David Alan Basche), who must endure life married to a woman (Katherine LaNasa) who is one of three exceptionally close sisters. Bess, the wife, is the logical one. Annie (A. J. Langer) is the flighty one. …