Here’s an inside look at the exciting television season ahead. (Warning: This season kicks it up a notch. No longer is it "Must-See TV," but the new slogan: "If I Missed It, I’d Kill Myself.")
The NFL This Morning. A new pre-game show on CNN that begins at 7 a.m. with Paula Zahn and Bernard Shaw, who has come out of retirement for this one. The plan is to give you analysis over and above the usual pre-game fare. Each week the TV audience will be invited into a player’s home as he begins the day. Zahn and Shaw will have guests who will analyze the player’s breakfast food and entire pre-game regimen, including interaction between the player and his family.
Alias. Will’s identity is questioned. Does Will know who Will really is?
The Sopranos. Reruns are planned for the next two years while David Chase tries to figure out how the hell to tie up all the loose ends of the plot.
The Practice. Eugene and Jimmy believe they’ve entered the wrong law office because they can’t find anyone they know. Rumors abound that Bobby and Lindsay are in a mental institution, where they keep mumbling, "How did we get dropped from the show?"
Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray forgets how to tie his shoelaces and needs help from his wife while his family jeers in the background. Uncle Nunzi makes a guest appearance and proclaims, "Everybody doesn’t love Raymond."
Monday Night Football. ABC announces they’ve hired Bill O’Reilly to do color with Al Michaels and John Madden. (Rush Limbaugh was already taken.) But a problem arises when, because of Madden’s girth, they can’t fit the third man in a booth.
Whoopi. The new Whoopi Goldberg Show was supposed to be titled Making Whoopi, in which each week three guys were supposed to put moves on the comedian. The problem was, they couldn’t find three guys in the world who would make a pass at Whoopi, even after canvassing ships that were out at sea for more than six months.
24. Kiefer Sutherland is back to save the world, while he fails at parenting.
NYPD Blue. The first show is devoted to examining just why beautiful women keep throwing themselves at Andy Sipowicz’s feet. Is it his balding head or the occasional bare-butt shot that drives them wild?
The West Wing. Martin Sheen, as President Jeremiah Bartlet, finds out he might have really lost his reelection bid because of a voting foul-up in Florida. Insider’s tip: Bartlett had packed the Supreme Court with liberal Democrats, so guess how the vote turns out this time?
Law and Order. An over-the-hill female singer plants a kiss on a teen female and former Mouse Club member. The teenage star is found dead by Jerry Orbach, who views the mutilated body and makes a wisecrack about her nipple ring. Sam Waterston then has to defend Orbach against a charge of tasteless humor in the performance of police work.
ER. A realistic hour in which someone enters the ER with a spinal-cord injury, and then spends the entire hour (including commercials) without treatment because he’s waiting for someone to take his medical insurance information.
20/20. Barbara Walters interviews Charles Manson. Insider scoop: Manson breaks down in tears over his failure to make it as the fifth Beatle.
This is the night when PBS usually outshines the commercial networks by showing reruns of a Ken Burns documentary on the history of corn in America.