CBS backs off, and 'Hope' may be lost


October 06, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

In the staring-contest battle of the Thursday-night medical shows, NBC's "E.R." and CBS's "Chicago Hope," CBS has blinked first, but that was to be expected. Though separating the two medical shows is good news for viewers, the new time slot for "Chicago Hope" isn't. The kamikaze way CBS has scheduled the show this fall, the series ought to be called "Chicago Hopeless."

* "My So-Called Life." (8-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Enjoy this series while you can, because it's not doing well at all in the ratings: A week ago it ranked fourth in the time slot, behind even Fox's "Martin" and "Living Single." It doesn't seem to matter that the scripts are so good, or the characters and actions so credible. At any rate, tonight's show shows a more vulnerable side of school hunk Jordan (Jared Leto), who, it turns out, has a learning disability. Claire Danes stars. ABC.

* "Due South." (8-9 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- The unexpected success of this series, on the other hand, shows that it DOES seem to matter that scripts are good, and characters enjoyable, in an action series that's part adventure and part spoof. Paul Gross as Fraser, the Canadian Mountie transplanted to Chicago, has all the right moves for a very funny "straight man," and tonight he's joined by one of the best: guest star Leslie Nielsen, who plays a Mountie friend of Fraser's late dad. This episode is full of curves, veering widely and wildly between straight drama and "Police Squad!"-style visual humor. Best example of the latter: Nielsen's "Buck" Frobisher crashes into the doors of a retirement home and screams, "You! Pops! Hands in the air!" The elderly man complies, at which point, no longer gripping his walker, he falls backward to the floor. Buck's quiet response: "Oh. Sorry." CBS.

* "Chicago Hope." (9-10 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Opposite "Seinfeld," what chance does this show have? CBS.

* "E.R." (10-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Meanwhile, this series last week landed in the Top 10. No need for a code blue here. NBC.

* "Eye to Eye With Connie Chung." (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Warren Beatty is interviewed here . . . CBS.

* "Late Show With David Letterman." (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- . . . And, later on, is interviewed here. Which conversation is better is, of course, de-Beatty-ble. CBS.


* "Dead Air." (9-11 p.m., USA) -- Just about. There's a lot of emphasis on aural special effects in this psychological murder mystery starring Gregory Hines -- but almost none on providing a coherent script.

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