Let the good times and VCRs roll TV's new season: Networks loose new and returning shows on unsuspecting public. But stick with us, we'll lead you through it.

September 21, 1998|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

The network fall TV season officially starts this week with all the counterprogramming clutter and network excess we have come to know and hate.

Here's a quick guide to new series to help you plan your viewing and taping tonight. Let's keep it simple with four categories: **** must-see; *** has-promise; ** might-be-worth-a-look; * forget-about-it.

"Conrad Bloom" ** (NBC) -- Mark Feuerstein plays Conrad Bloom, a young ad exec with lots of women in his life. While he's approaching 30 and still searching for "the one," he's got an ex, a sister, a mom, a boss and a co-worker who all count on him in one way or another. Linda Lavin ("Alice") as mom and Steve Landesberg ("Barney Miller") as a burned-out co-worker add some nice moments. 8: 30 p.m. to 9 p.m. WBAL (Channel 11).

"King of Queens" ** 1/2 (CBS) -- This blue-collar sitcom starring comedian Kevin James is about a parcel delivery man in Queens. It has the same stereotypes and a similar story line to a failed ABC midseason series, "That's Life." In both, the workingman just wants a room in which to watch big-screen TV and drink beer. But, when just such a room becomes available in the workingman's house, in moves an in-law. So, why bother watching even once? The in-law is played by Jerry Stiller (Frank Costanza of "Seinfeld"). Stiller may not be enough to save this pack of wrongheaded cliches, but it will be fun watching him try. 8: 30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WJZ (Channel 13).

tTC "Hyperion Bay" ** (WB) -- It is not as flashy as "Dawson's Creek" or as emotionally engaging as "Felicity," but this WB drama about several generations of a modern-day family in northern California still has a lot going for it with strong writing from producer Joseph Dougherty ("thirtysomething"). Tough time period, though, opposite football and "Ally McBeal." 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. WNUV (Channel 54).

"The Brian Benben Show" ** (CBS) -- Actor Brian Benben plays a Los Angeles anchorman named Brian Benben who is bumped down the newsroom ladder to human-interest reporter when the station hires a younger and prettier face to sit at the anchor desk. To buy into the show, you have to believe long-time anchorman Benben is somehow deeper, smarter and more moral than the Ken and Barbie clones with whom he works. I don't. Nor do I think making fun of local TV news types is entertaining. Yes, they are mainly a bunch of self-absorbed, blow-dried knuckleheads, but we knew that decades ago; there hasn't been a new wrinkle in the formula since Ted Baxter. If you were expecting great things of Benben based on his HBO sitcom, all I can say is, "Dream On." 9: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m. WJZ (Channel 13).

"Will & Grace" *** 1/2 (NBC) -- Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler (Debra Messing) were made for each other -- except he's gay. Truman is a new version of gay for prime-time TV: a self-assured, confident professional man in a leading role. The breakout character, though, will probably be Truman's gay friend, the flamboyant Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes, of "Billy's -- Hollywood Screen Kiss"). I like this show a lot, but then I'll pull for any NBC sitcom that doesn't feature a self-important woman working in the media, as last year's Monday night lineup on NBC did. 9: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m. WBAL (Channel 11).

"L.A. Docs" ** 1/2 (CBS) -- Take this for what it's worth: I'd recommend almost any series with Ken Olin in it. Here he co-stars as one of four medical doctors -- Michael Steadman if he had gone to med school -- who are fed up with managed care and open their own practice. I'd also recommend almost any show that rips managed care and HMOs. 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. WJZ (Channel 13).

Pub Date: 9/21/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.