Years ago, those with gray hairs may recall, the automobile companies made a big deal out of introducing their new models every fall -- restyled, reshaped and revamped, complete with new fins and headlight arrangements, in a showroom near you.
Sometime in the future, we'll probably remember with similar nostalgia the days when the television networks did the same. As with cars today, new television shows come out at any time of the year, some with great bombast and hoopla, some with hardly a whimper of publicity.
But for now, at least, the fall remains the most concentrated period of new programs. It's the season when the networks -- the near-desperate networks at this point -- try their best to get your attention, to get you excited about watching broadcast television again.
The season officially gets under way Sept. 15, but Fox, which has publicly stated that it's going to get away from the fall premiere week concept, broadcast one of the best of the new shows, "Roc," last Sunday. That pilot episode will air again tonight at 8:30 on Channel 45 (WBFF) with the series settling into its regular time period Sunday at 8:30.
E9 The following are some other notable premiere dates:
Sept. 15 James Garner returns to series television in a half-hour comedy Man of the People," which starts on NBC at 8 p.m. But the sleeper is the NBC show that precedes it at 7:30, "Eerie, Indiana," a kid's perspective on the Twilight Zone.
Sept. 16 CBS' Monday night comedy lineup returns with new episodes, Evening Shade" and "Major Dad" with half hours, while "Murphy Brown" gets an hour at 9 o'clock to resolve the pregnancy issue and "Designing Women" gets an hour at 10 to introduce its new cast members.
Sept. 17 One promising newcomer, ABC's "Home Improvement" with comedian Tim Allen as the host of a home fix-it show, premieres at 8:30, followed by the season kickoff of "Roseanne." Another potentially interesting new show, "Sibs," Marsha Mason starring in a sitcom about sisters, gets a special preview at 9:30.
Sept. 18 CBS has high hopes for "Royal Family," which stars Redd Foxx and Della Reese and shows up Sept. 18 at 8. ABC's "Dinosaurs" also runs its first new episode in its new time slot, also 8 p.m.
Sept. 19 A bunch of Thursday night favorites -- Fox's "The Simpsons," NBC's "The Cosby Show," "A Different World," "Cheers" and "Wings" -- have their season premieres Sept. 19, along with one newcomer of note, Fox's "Drexell's Class" with Dabney Coleman as a tough school teacher. "Drexell's Class" gets to follow "The Simpsons" at 8:30. NBC's "Flesh 'n Blood," with David Keith as the season's potential breakout character Arlo Weed, gets a special preview at 10 p.m.
Sept. 20 Mark your calendar for the one-hour special premiere of CBS' Brooklyn Bridge," a promising poignant comedy about growing up in the '50s from Gary David Goldberg. The premiere is at 8 p.m.
Sept. 21 NBC puts on its revamped Saturday night with a new episode of The Golden Girls" at 8 followed by a rookie "The Torklesons" at 8:30.
Sept. 23 The best new show of last season, CBS' "Northern Exposure," starts up its new season at 10 p.m.
Sept. 24 ABC's "Homefront," a quality soap opera about life after World War II, gets a 90-minute send-off at 9:30.
Sept. 26 "Reasonable Doubts," the cop-and-lawyer show with Mark Harmon and Marlee Matlin, gets a preview in the Thursday at 10 p.m. slot.
Oct. 8 Another date to remember as the excellent two-hour pilot of "I'll Fly Away," the story of life in a small southern town during the civil rights struggle, premieres on NBC at 8. Sam Waterston stars in this drama from the producers of "Northern Exposure."
Oct. 10 NBC's "L.A. Law" finally returns for its new season at 10 p.m., shedding and adding bunches of cast members.
October specials The baseball playoffs and World Series monopolize CBS' schedule for much of October. (NBC is scheduled to broadcast a TV movie about Babe Ruth, starring Stephen Lang, on Oct. 6, just before the games begin.) But the days of the other networks rolling over and playing dead in the face of America's Pastime are long gone. Both are going after the female-dominated, non-baseball audience.
NBC will counter with its biggest miniseries of the year, six hours of "A Woman Named Jackie" that go Oct. 13, 14 and 15, followed by two Danielle Steele movies -- "Palomino" and "Daddy" -- on Oct. 21 and 22. ABC will have its "Dynasty" reunion four hour miniseries on Oct. 20 and 22.