It's neither the best of times nor the worst of times in network television. The new season doesn't have any shows of groundbreaking, can't-miss quality, but it is also mercifully nearly free of total clunkers as the network executives seem to have finally figured out that trotting out the same old formulas every fall just drives people to their tape rental stores. A few highlights:
* CBS broadcasts "Field of Dreams" Tuesday. This is the first movie to show up from a package that cost CBS a lot of money. The network paid the price to broadcast the titles before they are shown on pay cable channels. Whether or not this Kevin Costner film can generate the type of excitement the initial network broadcast of big theatrical hits did in the days before cable and videocassettes, it's still a great movie to watch in the waning days of the baseball season.
* "Evening Shade" begins its season on CBS Sept. 21. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the woman responsible for "Designing Women," is finally turning out a new series, writing a sitcom expressly for her new lead actor, Burt Reynolds. He plays a football star who moves back to his small hometown, which is populated by an impressive supporting cast, Hal Holbrook, Marilu Henner, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning and Elizabeth Ashley. The show is definitely worth checking out.