Spring Preview
In Bloom
This spring's new sitcoms and dramas bring a healthy dose of nostalgia (remember Judith Light?), some Friends clones (House Rules) and a couple of new versions of old shows ( The Love Boat, Candid Camera).
Networks
Closer at Hand
Famous TV private-eye nice guy Tom Selleck decides to get nasty (and funny) for a shot at sitcom fame in The Closer.
Tom Selleck
Spring Cleaning
Our seasonal programming preview sorts through the best of the new movies, specials, family fun, and documentaries on TV.
Specials
Broadcast Preview
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ABC

THESE ARE THE DAYS (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET; premieres March 10) The basics: A blue-collar Queens, N.Y., guy (Gerry Red Wilson) turns purple when his snobby uptown sister-in-law (Nadia Dajani) and her ten-year-old son (Michael Charles Roman) move into the apartment upstairs from him and his wife (Kellie Overbey). *The buzz: Do you miss Archie Bunker? Ralph Kramden? You will even more when you get a load of this weary wanna-be.

TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m.; premieres March 11) Two Boston grad students ponder their futures as they deliver pizzas to pay the rent. Their upstairs neighbor, meanwhile, hates her job but loves the paycheck. David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H) and Julius Carry (The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) costar. *One of several indistinguishable twentysomething-friends sitcoms blooming this spring.

MAXIMUM BOB (premieres summer) Director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty) co­executive produces this quirky series based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. Beau Bridges stars as the Florida judge known for his tough sentences. *Not available for review at press time, this series nonetheless gets extra points for at least being different. Too different? We'll have to wait until summer to find out.

PUSH (TBA) A southern California university's acclaimed athletic program for Olympic hopefuls is the setting for this series that promises equal parts sweat and soap. *This is the closest ABC will get to the Olympics until at least 2010. No pilot was available at press time, but everything points to its being more Melrose Place than the Millrose Games.

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CBS

THE CLOSER (Mondays, 9 p.m.) The basics: Tom Selleck returns to series TV in this sitcom about a crack advertising executive who, for awkward reasons involving the President of the United States and a game of golf, opens his own firm. Edward Asner and Penelope Ann Miller costar. *The buzz: Friends must have told the charming Selleck that a sitcom should be his next stop. Unfortunately, this workaday script will hardly be remembered as his magnum opus.

FOUR CORNERS (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) Ann-Margret makes her series debut as a widow trying to keep her sprawling ranch out of the hands of developers while keeping track of her feisty children. Sonia Braga costars as her best friend, also a widow (because of the same plane crash), struggling to keep a rein on her adult kids. *If images of Southfork, Ewings and Barneses are swirling around your brain, that's not surprising. David Jacobs, coproducer of this serial, which wasn't available at press time, also wrangled for Dallas.

CANDID CAMERA (Fridays, 8:30 p.m.) The hidden-camera show, in one form or another, has been gotcha!-ing people since 1948. This new series, hosted by Peter Funt (son of series creator Allen) and Suzanne Somers, continues the tradition. *Long before Linda Tripp ever dreamed of secretly taping Monica Lewinsky, the Funt family was capturing Americans in all sorts of wacky situations.

THE SIMPLE LIFE (TBA) Who's the Boss's Judith Light plays a doyenne of domesticity who moves her family and her TV show to rural upstate New York. *With Jean Smart's Martha Stewart spoof on hiatus, CBS must have feared the void. Too bad this has even less style and substance than the other. And that's not a good thing.

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FOX

In Damon, Wayans (left) and Grier play brothers in charms.
DAMON (Sundays, 8:30 p.m.; premieres March 22, then moves to Mondays, 8 p.m. on April 6) The basics: Damon Wayans is reunited with his In Living Color costar David Alan Grier in this sitcom about a successful cop and his hapless brother. With Andrea Martin (SCTV). *The buzz: Two snaps up to 3rd Rock producers Carsey-Werner for making Wayans an undercover cop so he can play different characters, but fans of the subtle beware: The humor here is mighty broad.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.; premieres March 11) Party of Five producers Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman created this drama about a group of friends in their midtwenties. *Promised to be lighter than Party (which shouldn't be hard), this series stars another batch of attractive relative unknowns. Sight unseen, I'd put my money on these producers.

THE WAY WE WORK (TBA) Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day), Duane Martin (Out All Night) and Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink) star in this sitcom about twentysomethings who work together at a Chicago commercial production company owned by Elliott Gould. *That feeling of déjà vu is easy to explain: Creators Jeff Greenstein and Jeff Strauss also were behind Partners, again with Cryer.

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NBC

From left: White, Pitillo and Newsom make the House Rules
HOUSE RULES (Mondays, 8:30 p.m.; premieres March 9) The basics: Best friends for life (Maria Pitillo, David Newsom, Bradley White) share platonic love and a house in Denver. *The buzz: Yup, they're in their 20s and trying to figure out life. At least this appealing cast is recognizable: Pitillo was in Partners, Newsom was on Homefront and White guest-starred as the guy who planted that infamous kiss on Jamie in Mad About You.

FOR YOUR LOVE (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m.; premieres March 17) The lives of three young, suburban couples--James Lesure and Holly Robinson Peete, Dedee Pfeiffer and D.W. Moffett, Edafe Blackmon and Tamala Jones--are at the heart of this semiautobiographical sitcom created by Yvette Lee Bowser (Living Single). *A variation on the twentysomething theme, this show, which was not available for review, features couples and the cute dog from As Good As It Gets.

LATELINE (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.; premieres March 17) Al Franken (Saturday Night Live) cocreated, produces and stars in this comedy set at a late-night news show. Any similarities to Nightline are purely intentional. And like that show, the talent is impressive: Robert Foxworth (Falcon Crest), Miguel Ferrer (Twin Peaks) and Catherine Lloyd Burns (Partners) are among the costars. *Aiming to skewer news the way The Larry Sanders Show sticks it to talk shows, the series is a combination of smarts and slapstick, gleefully filled with cameos by real Washington movers and shakers.

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UPN

THE LOVE BOAT (TBA) The basics: "New ship," outlines UPN executive vice president of entertainment Tom Nunan, "new crew, new sensibility and an even hipper, broader audience appeal." *The buzz: Of all the series in the history of television, this is the one they're reviving? At least executive producer Aaron Spelling is back at the helm. No pilot (or captain) was available at press time.

WB

Geary and Gold: the two stars of You're the One
INVASION AMERICA (TBA) The basics: Steven Spielberg and Harve Bennett (Star Trek II, III, IV, V) are the exec producers of this animated sci-fi saga about a young man compelled to lead the people of Earth in an interplanetary war. *The buzz: Bennett is "hoping to do [for sci-fi] what The Simpsons did for comedy," and he may just achieve his goal with this classy-looking series.

KELLY KELLY (TBA) Shelley Long (Cheers) is Kelly Novak, a high-powered broadcast journalist from Manhattan. Robert Hays (Airplane!) is Doug Kelly, a fire chief with four kids in Secaucus, N.J. They meet, fall in love and get married. Now she's Kelly Kelly and an overnight suburban mother. *In the last few months, the show, which has been in development for two years, lost its original production company, got two new executive producers and recast some roles, including turning a boy into a girl. But hey, maybe it'll be terrific.

YOU'RE THE ONE (TBA) Cynthia Geary (Northern Exposure) and comic Elon Gold play lovebirds whose parents are of very different feathers. Hers are southern conservatives, and his are Long Island Jews. *Bridget may have loved Bernie, but there's little to like in this over-the-top union.

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