Fall is coming. Soon, I guess. Otherwise the networks wouldn't already be running promos for the upcoming TV season. And early word has it that the networks got it right for the 51st season in a row.
La Vida Loca (FOX): Red-hot Ricky Martin hosts this concert/variety series as each week he and his band (plus special musical guests) take the stage at a different institute for the criminally insane.
Chachi Loves Joanie and She's Going to Pay (ABC): Scott Baio and Erin Moran return in the roles they originated on Happy Days and later spun into their own series. Now married and in their 30s, Chachi is a Union meatcutter, specializing in veal and lamb -- "You know," he says catch phrase-ily, "the 'adolescent' meats" -- while Joanie is a warm, nurturing dental hygienist who can "look in your mouth and see your heart." But when she files for divorce and moves out, Chachi, unable to let go of his "special lady," begins stalking her. Will this macho maneuver win Joanie back? Or will it win Chachi a restraining order? Find out when you tune in to this sidesplitting comedy about the road to Splitsville.
Then get ready to experience a fit of "domestically violent laughter."
The Jim Belushi Show (WB): Sitcom featuring the star commonly called "the male Lucille Ball but without the red hair and flair for comedy but whose brother was funny." Hedging their bets, the network has asked that the pilot be rewritten so that it can just as easily be interpreted by viewers as the series finale.
Gas & Melons (NBC): In the tradition of Men Behaving Badly and The Secret Lives of Men but "completely honest and without wallowing in male self-mockery," this show consists of endless bikini and lingerie cleavage shots overlaid with a soundtrack of farts and fart jokes.
USS Boilerplate (Syndicated): Hour sci-fi series set in the year 2000-and-something. The crew, consisting of men (human and humanoid) wearing futuristic uniforms and women (full-figured humans and humanoids) wearing futuristic spandex uniforms, travel the galaxy aboard a starship (The Boilerplate) with a full array of flashing lights, swivel chairs and computers that are absolutely, positively 100 percent dependable until a real crisis occurs. Time is split between learning valuable lessons from some aliens and reluctantly destroying others with light/beam emitting weapons. Endings are generally hopeful with a dash of wry wit.
Bill Moyers On: A Hearty Crap (PBS): The thoughtful, methodical and soft-spoken journalist/seeker takes viewers on a very personal eight-part voyage of discovery as he examines the meaning, the motivation, the very sum and the substance of a bowel movement he's come to regard as both profound and prophetic.
Y2Krusader (UPN): Limited-run series featuring a super-smart superhero whose sworn mission is to explain to a prepared-to-party world that, really, the 21st century/new millennium doesn't begin until the year 2001.
First Tingle in Atlanta (CBS): Hour dramatic series based on the film Last Tango in Paris but which focus groups determined sounded too final, too musical and too foreign.
-- BOB WOODIWISS