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FALL TV TRENDS BEGINNING TO UNFOLD ...

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A few interesting trends are beginning to unfold as the fall television continues its first month. Among them:

- Safe TV doesn't necessarily mean G-rated TV, as Wiseguy and Roseanne have already proven. I've never seen a more explicit sex scene in series television than the one in the "Wiseguy" season-opener, and the taste meter was severely tested with "Roseanne's" episode about flatulence.- Dallas is hip-deep in pasture patties ratings-wise. The show is a weak third in its time period, drawing its smallest audience since it premiered in 1978. If things don't turn around soon, the show may be off the air before the Cowboys finally win a game.

- The Cosby Show is still a No. 1 contender despite prophecies from many corners (including this one) that Roseanne would take its place on top this season. It still might ("Cosby" won the first week of the season, "Roseanne" won last week), but "Cosby" looks like there's still a lot of power in its paunch.

- Richard Chamberlain's drawing power is stronger than anyone thought. Despite being blasted by critics around the nation, his "Island Son" has been performing remarkably well, winning its time period once and finishing a strong second once. So what do these critics know?

- Gerald McRaney may be just a step or two behind Chamberlain. His "Major Dad" looks like it may become the sleeper hit of the season as it is beating NBC's usually strong "ALF" and "Monday Night Football" in Monday's 7 p.m. time period.

- Snoops could be headed for a "Frank's Place"-like showdown for CBS. The witty, urbane show is drawing praise from critics while getting clobbered in the ratings. (Gee, I wonder if any of this sounds familiar to Tim and Daphne Maxwell Reid?)

- Doogie Howser, M.D. has got to find another facet of life to explore. This promising new Steven Bochco series has sounded the same note - Doogie's sexual awakening - in every episode so far. Come on - there's more to life than that - even for a 16-year-old boy.

- Life Goes On continues to live up to its promise as the best new show oft he season. In fact, it's quickly closing the gap on "The Wonder Years" as my favorite show on TV.

THE TABLOID WARS are competitive, too, and the early returns indicate that Inside Edition and USA Today on TV are in serious trouble. Neither of the second-year infotainment shows has been able to crack the syndicated world's top 20, a trend that must change if either show is to survive.

Also on the skids: Crimewatch Tonight (No. 46) and Raymond Burr's Trial by Jury (No. 62).

In case you're curious, the top five shows in the syndicated marketplace are: 1. Wheel of Fortune; 2. Jeopardy; 3. The Oprah Winfrey Show; 4. The Cosby Show; and 5. Wheel of Fortune (the weekend edition).

Infotainment shows making the top 10 include A Current Affair (No. 7), Entertainment Tonight (No. 8) and Donahue (No. 9). "Hard Copy," another tabloid-oriented show, made its debut too late to be counted in the first season returns, but early reports indicate the show is doing pretty well and has a good chance at survival. (You'll have to decide for yourself if that's good news or bad.)