One man's critique of the new fall TV shows:
"Hearts Afire" (CBS): Haven't seen this one yet -- a freak electrical storm knocked out the cable. When it came back, a commercial for the e.p.t. home pregnancy test was on. These are the commercials purporting to show real couples finding out their real test results in the privacy of their own homes -- with a 10-man camera crew and a national TV audience of 40 million looking on, of course.
The commercial featured a woman of about 38, biological clock ticking loudly, sadly finding out she's not pregnant. Her husband pats her hand encouragingly and says: "We'll keep trying."
Yeah, sure. Look, if it's reality we're going for here, let's see the cameras stick around when she starts yelling at him about his low sperm count, and he screams that he should have married a younger woman.
"Love and War" (CBS): Haven't seen this one, either. But the guy working on my car at Mr. Tire said it was "uneven." Unless he said: "I'm leavin.' " To tell you the truth, it was a little noisy in there with the air gun going and the hubcaps clattering all over the place.
"Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" (ABC): Rome in 410 A.D. is a seething caldron of passion, terror and intrigue. The Goths are encamped a mere three leagues from the city's gates. A young centurion JTC (Emilio Estevez) falls desperately in love with the daughter (Julie Brown) of a wealthy nobleman and . . . I'm sorry. Didn't see this one, either.
"Going to Extremes" (ABC): Young, spoiled, whiny, self-obsessed medical students attend school on some fictional island in the Caribbean 'cause they're too stupid to get into a decent med school. Look, if I'm on the operating table and glance up to find one of these idiots bending over me with a scalpel, my first thought is: Take me now, Lord.
"Laurie Hill" (ABC): Is this the one with the sexy female cop who goes undercover as a hooker to bust a Sunset Strip prostitution ring? And the Corvette chases the Porsche at the end? Excellent!
"The Hat Squad" (CBS): Lemme see if I got this straight. Three adult, foster brothers -- stay with me here -- whose biological parents were killed by criminals become cops in L.A.? And they wear these dopey-looking fedoras that haven't been in style since the Eisenhower administration?
Hoo, boy. This thing makes "Starsky and Hutch" look like "Citizen Kane." In the season premiere, one of the hat guys leaped off a bridge on a bungee cord to knock the fleeing bad guy off his motorcycle. O-o-o-kay. If you say so.
"Mad About You" (NBC): Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt star as neurotic newlyweds. You can tell they're newlyweds because they're still having sex and enjoying life.
Of course, that'll all end in a couple of months and then she'll be coming at him with an ax every time he misses the hamper with his socks. Soon she'll put on a few pounds and he'll turn into the hopeless alcoholic that her father always said he was. He'll fly off to Sweden for a sex-change operation and she'll have a brief, meaningless affair with the surgical supplies salesman next door until he (the salesman) dies in a plane crash while ferrying arms to Shiite guerrillas in northern Iraq.
We've seen it all a thousand times.
"The Heights" (Fox): Young, spoiled, whiny, self-obsessed members of a rock group spend their days making horrible music and reflecting on the sorry state of their lives.
You might get in the mood for this show by watching your dog get run over.
"Delta" (ABC): Close your eyes and picture Delta Burke as a country singer in Nashville. Hands clammy yet?
"Rhythm & Blues" (NBC): Black radio station hires white DJ thinking he's black. Someone pass me the ether.
"What Happened?" (NBC): Ken Howard explains a different disaster each week, although not how this show got on the air.
"Golden Palace" (CBS): The Golden Girls run a sleazy hotel that doubles as a porno and crack-dealing operation . . . just kidding. Bea Arthur is replaced by Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong), which is sort of like having Laurence Olivier step aside in favor of Elmer Fudd.
"Bob" (CBS): Bob Newhart wears lots of sweaters and tosses off wry one-liners while married to a much younger wife and surrounded by oddball friends. Hmmm, it might work.
"Covington Cross" (ABC): Teen-age life in the Middle Ages. Honest. Understandably, the producer was taken out and shot, his body dumped in a shallow grave.
"Frannie's Turn" (CBS): Life with a zany middle-aged Cuban-American seamstress. Like watching the old "Lucy" show acid.
Just say no.