CBS is trying to look young, but lineup isn't

May 18, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

CBS says it's looking for younger viewers. But you'd never know it from the fall schedule the graying network announced yesterday, with new shows for such older stars as Dudley Moore, Della Reese, Hal Linden and Suzanne Pleshette.

Furthermore, CBS renewed several series with the oldest audience profiles on TV -- Dick Van Dyke's "Diagnosis Murder," Angela Lansbury's "Murder She Wrote" and "Rescue 911."

The biggest news yesterday from CBS might have been its cancellations. Burt Reynolds, Norman Lear and Tom Arnold all got the boot as the network canceled "Evening Shade," "704 Hauser" and "Tom." (Tom Arnold suffered a double whammy this week, as Roseanne re-filed for divorce.)

"With more half-hour comedy blocks and engaging urban dramas, this schedule will attract a younger and broader demographic to the network," said Peter Tortorici, the network's new entertainment president. But that seemed to be mostly wishful thinking, based on the product announced yesterday.

"Touched by an Angel" will star Roma Downey and Della Reese in a drama about an angel (Downey) who falls to earth in Los Angeles and looks out for children. Reese plays a shopkeeper who looks out for the angel. It will air Wednesdays at 9.

"Due South" stars Paul Gross in a cop drama about a Canadian Mountie who winds up in Chicago as partner of a tough, big-city detective. It will air Thursdays at 8.

"Under Suspicion" is another cop drama, this one featuring Karen Sillas as a savvy detective. Peter Onorati co-stars. It airs Fridays at 9 opposite "Homicide" on NBC. Good luck.

The network's most promising drama looks to be "Chicago Hope," which is produced by David Kelly, the creator of "Picket Fences." The medical drama, set in Chicago, stars Mandy Patinkin, Adam Arkin and E. G. Marshall. It airs Thursday nights at 10.

"The Boys Are Back" headlines the new comedy lineup. The sitcom stars Linden and Pleshette as a couple happily anticipating their last child leaving home, when suddenly, all their grown children start moving back in. It will lead off Monday nights at 8.

Dudley Moore, who bombed in his last sitcom attempt for CBS, will star in "Daddy's Girls" as a man "trying to rebuild his life and his relationships with his three grown daughters," according to CBS. It airs Wednesdays at 8:30.

Judith Ivey stars in "The Five Mrs. Buchanans," the network's third new sitcom. This is the story of five women who are bound together by the man four of them married and one mothered. This "sisters-in-law sitcom" gets the cushy time period of Saturday at 9 after "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman."

Other series not mentioned, which were renewed, include: "Dave's World," "Murphy Brown," "Northern Exposure," "The Nanny," "48 Hours," "Eye to Eye With Connie Chung," "60 Minutes," "Picket Fences," "Love and War," "Hearts Afire" and "Walker, Texas Ranger."

"Hearts Afire," "Love and War" and "The Nanny" have all struggled in the ratings and were candidates for cancellation.

"Christy" and "Burke's Law," the series with the oldest audience profile of any drama on network TV, were picked up as midseason replacements.

CBS finished this season as the top-rated network in overall viewing. But it had the oldest audience.

With the loss of NFL football on Sunday afternoons and this lineup in prime time, it looks like it could be a hard year ahead for CBS.

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