Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Los Angeles Broadcast networks are in big trouble this season if federal regulators add being derivative to the list of TV trespasses.
Networks are copying their own series, sometimes with a third or fourth edition ("CSI," "Law & Order") or putting on shows that have the whiff of copycat about them ("The Contender" vs. "The Next Great Champ").
Television is used to milking ideas for all they're worth, but the trend is nearly overwhelming in the 2004-05 season -- nearly, but not quite.
The upcoming season's new series, network by network:
- Donald Who? In "The Benefactor," billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban dangles $1 million before 16 people who have to prove they deserve it. Debuts 7 p.m. Sept. 13.
- "Rodney," 8:30 p.m. Sept. 21, stars standup comedian Rodney Carrington as a man happy with his family but unhappy with his day job. The punch line: He wants to be a standup comedian.
- An island, a plane crash, 48 survivors and very unusual wildlife make up the big picture in "Lost," debuting 7 p.m. Sept. 22. Matthew Fox stars in the drama from "Alias" producer J.J. Abrams.
- "Complete Savages," 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24, stars Keith Carradine as the single dad in charge of a pack of unruly boys. Mel Gibson is an executive producer.
- Women trade families and homes in "Wife Swap," a reality series starting 9 p.m. Sept. 29. For half the time, the women have to respect family dynamics; then things are done their way, or else.
- Perfect homes hide unhappy secrets in "Desperate Housewives," a satiric take on suburban life starring Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria. It debuts at 8 p.m. Oct. 3.
- "Boston Legal," the reincarnated version of "The Practice," also bows Oct. 3, at 9 p.m. James Spader stars as a lawyer with borderline ethics but winning ways; William Shatner is the firm's co-captain.
- Growing up is hard to do in "life as we know it," 8 p.m. Oct. 7. The drama about the yearnings of three teenage boys -- a jock, an artist and an overachiever -- also features Kelly Osbourne.
- "Listen Up," 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20, a sitcom based on the work of sportswriter and columnist Tony Kornheiser, stars Jason Alexander as the writer and Malcolm-Jamal Warner as his TV show sidekick.
- In "Clubhouse," a teenager lands a coveted bat boy job with the New York Empires but still faces school and his single mom. Dean Cain and Mare Winningham star in the drama previewing 7 p.m. Sept. 26.
- John Goodman and Jean Smart star in the comedy "Center of the Universe," 8:30 p.m. Sept. 29, as a couple coping with parenthood and his oddball family (with Ed Asner).
- When crime hits New York City, Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes hit back in "CSI: NY," the third member of the "Crime Scene Investigation" family. It debuts at 9 p.m. Sept. 22.
- Rob Lowe is the in-house doctor at a glitzy Las Vegas hotel, keeping high-rollers and casino bosses healthy in the drama "dr. vegas," 9 p.m. Sept. 24. Joe Pantoliano co-stars.
- In "The Complex: Malibu," 7 p.m. Monday, a condominium building gets a makeover and eight couples get a shot at cashing in on the results -- if they've got the right renovation stuff.
- It's lawyers vs. lawyers in the reality series "The Partner," 8 p.m. Nov. 7, which pits "street-smart" lawyers against Ivy Leaguers in mock trials presided over by a celebrity judge.
- Hugh Laurie stars in "House" as a brilliant, icy doctor, Greg House, who solves medical mysteries despite a complete lack of bedside skills. The drama, 8 p.m. Nov. 16, co-stars Robert Sean Leonard.
- "The Next Great Champ," debuts at 8 p.m. Sept. 10. Twelve aspiring boxers compete for a contract with boxer Oscar De La Hoya's company and a World Boxing Organization title fight.
- Donald and Mark who? Virgin airlines mogul Richard Branson tests the mettle of young entrepreneurs on a worldwide trek in "The Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best," debuting 7 p.m. Nov. 9.