New season stand-outs

We media people are a strange lot.Instead of celebrating our New Year's in January, we celebrate it in June when the new broadcast season is announced. Well, celebrate is a bit of a stretch. It is a time of tremendous hard...

We media people are a strange lot.

Instead of celebrating our New Year’s in January, we celebrate it in June when the new broadcast season is announced. Well, celebrate is a bit of a stretch. It is a time of tremendous hard work.

Given that several of the Canadian station schedules were not released at time of writing, it proved a little daunting to provide hits and misses on the new season, short of hiring a psychic.

I have, therefore, decided to comment on the common strategies that the four u.s. networks are employing, as well as provide awards for programs which stand out from the crowd.

A very selective and discerning jury of one has been recruited. Me.

The first strategy that all the u.s. networks have in common: anchoring sitcoms with actors I dislike.

Valerie Bertinelli – isn’t she getting on a little to be cute?

Kelsey Grammer – without Lilith? Surely, they jest.

Harry Anderson/John Larroquette – even with Lilith.

Cindy Williams – shouldn’t she be doing infomercials by now?

Bronson Pinchot – even cbs appears to agree with me, given where they have scheduled Trouble with Larry.

Peter Scolari – the only nauseating Newhart character. Starring in his own series.

Richard Lewis – black humor at its blackest; by a white man.

Single parent households

The second strategy the u.s. networks have in common: airing a plethora of new programs featuring single parent households (through either death or divorce) and guising them as sitcoms, when, in fact, they must be dramas. Dan Quayle has obviously made his indelible mark on network tv.

And now, the awards.

Best improvement to a (relatively new) show: Love & War – for replacing Susan Dey with Annie Potts (from Designing Women.)

Best performance by an actor I do not like: Dave’s World – Harry Anderson stars as Dave Barry, syndicated humorist. Great writing. Good family casting.

Biggest ‘move up’: Saved by the Bell – rescheduled from Saturday mornings. Teen program up against Full House. Go figure.

Toughest new show award: NYPD Blue – very, very gritty. Should do okay with males, but not with advertisers.

Best male bonding award: Buddy Blues – refreshingly funny.

Best skinny blonde Roseanne knock-off: Grace Under Fire – starring stand-up comedienne Brett Butler.


Most far-fetched premise: Trouble With Larry – couple separated on honeymoon, man returns from exile to reclaim his American wife. (Everyone knows it is not possible to separate a couple on their honeymoon.)

Most over-played role: The Nanny – the character’s joie de vivre almost makes up for it.

Most obvious take-off: Do the Strand – Moonlighting. Enough already.

Worst actor award: Missing Persons – Daniel J. Travanti is stiff as a board. But I like him anyway. Gritty cop drama.

Second most obvious take-off: It Had To Be You – Faye Dunaway as a Murphy Brown type. It has to be worth a try.

Best extra-terrestrial award: The X-Files – Earth to Fox.

Not what you expect award: George – starring boxer George Foreman. Surprising (although limited) appeal, he is not as stiff and wooden as you would expect.

First to get cancelled award: Cafe Americain – Valerie Bertinelli living the life of a gay divorcee in gay Paris.

Best father/son combo (only father/son combo): Harts of the West – Lloyd and Beau – how can you go wrong? Synergistic positioning with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Most expensive producer award: SeaQuest DSV – Star Trek goes underwater. Steven Spielberg produces.

Most acerbic humor award: Daddy Dearest – Fox is again pushing the limits of taste with this one. Falls flat, even with Don Rickles.

Top 10 Shows – Toronto (Adults 18-49)



Beverly Hills 90210

The Simpsons

60 Minutes

Melrose Place



Home Improvement

Hockey Night in Canada

Top Five New Shows (based on content)


Dave’s World

Grace Under Fire

It Had to be You

Harts of the West

Lauren Richards is media director at Cossette Communication-Marketing in Toronto.