Three shows premiere tonight, each based on ideas we've seen before. But they're not all dismal. In fact, to quote the poet Meatloaf, "two out of three ain't bad."
- "Playing It Straight" (7 p.m., Fox) would not make Meatloaf's cut. This "romantic" contrivance asks a beauty to look for love among 14 men. Some of them are gay. Can she tell? Do we care? Just say no.
- Produced by Bruce Willis, "Touching Evil" (8 p.m., USA) is not only based on a British TV drama, it may remind some of USA's hit series "Monk." Like Tony Shalhoub's character, David Creegan (Jeffrey Donovan) of "Evil" is a defective detective who happens to live and work in San Francisco.
Some years back, Creegan took a bullet to the head, was technically "dead" for 10 minutes and lost a serious chunk of gray matter. After years of rehab, including a stint in a mental institution, he's back on the force, gifted with great empathy and intuition.
- If you can imagine "Joan of Arcadia" turbocharged with a whole new Fox attitude it might be "Wonderfalls" (8 p.m., Fox), a decidedly offbeat supernatural drama about a slacker who receives cryptic messages from inanimate objects and can't decide whether she's blessed or insane.
Friday nights have suddenly taken on a very otherworldly flavor. Viewers can now move from "Joan," about a girl who talks to God, to "Wonderfalls," about a girl surrounded by wise-cracking knick-knacks, to "Evil," concerning a cop who returned from the dead to set things straight. Spending three hours like this every Friday could drive you to a pew, or into analysis, but you can't say it's not challenging television.
Tonight's other highlights
- Chores ordered from on high on "Joan of Arcadia" (7 p.m., CBS).
- Fortune-cookie fantasies on "JAG" (8 p.m., CBS).
- Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): interviews with Rosie O'Donnell and Elton John.