Six - count 'em, six - new series premiere on the networks Friday night.
And, in many ways, Friday is a microcosm of the entire new season. There are a couple of really good shows, a couple of really bad ones, and the other two are somewhere in the middle.Here, in descending order of quality, are the Friday Half Dozen:
Bob (7:30 p.m., Ch. 5): This is not only the best new show of the night, it's one of the best new shows of the season.
Bob Newhart proves he's the master of the television sitcom as he returns to CBS with his third - and it should be as big a hit as the first two were.
This time, he's Bob McKay, a frustrated greeting-card artist who is overjoyed when he learns that the comic-book hero he created years earlier - Mad Dog - is going to be revived. But he's less thrilled when he meets the young artist with a twisted vision of what Mad Dog should be in the '90s.
All of which sets Bob up once again as the voice of sanity in a chorus of looniness. In addition to the crazies at work, he's got a dippy, grownup daughter (Cynthia Stevenson) and a supportive wife (Carlene Watkins).
And Newhart's got a can't-miss new series.
Picket Fences (8 p.m., Ch. 5): If you're an "L.A. Law" fan who's been wondering what went wrong with that show last season, the answer is here - "Picket Fences" creator/executive producer David E. Kelley left that NBC series to create this one for CBS.
And the elements that made "L.A. Law" such a great show are all here - the characters you care about, the quirkiness, the comedy, the pathos, the drama. As a matter of fact, this is the best new drama of the year.
Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker star as a husband-and-wife who are the town sheriff and the town doctor in the small town of Rome, Wisc. They've got a teenage daughter and two young sons.
In Friday's two-hour premiere, both the sheriff and the doctor get involved in a murder case. In an "L.A. Law"-like scene, the Tin Man in a local production of "The Wizard of Oz" drops dead on stage, the victim of poison.
And another body is later found in the strangest of places.
The show isn't perfect. There's one weak subplot about a pair of singers/hookers.
But, overall, this is a wonderful program that promises to be one of the year's best.
The Golden Palace (7 p.m., Ch. 5): Let's face it. After seven years, "The Golden Girls" was running out of steam.
Which is why "The Golden Palace" isn't such a bad idea.
Bea Arthur (Dorothy) is gone. But Betty White (Rose), Rue McClanahan (Blanche) and Estelle Getty (Sophia) return. The three remaining character pool their money and buy a rundown hotel.
The three "Girls" haven't changed much. But this new show gives them a new lease on life, and new characters to interact with.
If you liked "The Golden Girls," you'll like "The Golden Palace."
Camp Wilder (8:30 p.m., Ch. 4): This is another T.G.I.F. sitcom - sweet, silly and sappy.
It's the kind of show you really want to like, but it just isn't good enough. And, for a comedy, there aren't many laughs.
Mary Page Keller, who starred in "Baby Talk" in this same time slot last season, stars as 28-year-old Ricky, the single mother of a 6-year-old girl who moves into her recently deceased parents' home to take care of her 16-year-old brother (Jerry O'Connell) and 13-year-old sister (Meghann Haldeman). The home becomes the local hangout for teens, hence the "Camp Wilder" title.
In Friday's premiere, Ricky comes into conflict with her brother and learns a bit about parenting.
It's a nice sitcom, but not a very good one.
The Round Table (8 p.m., Ch. 2): This is NBC's attempt to copy the success of "Beverly Hills, 90210." They even hired "90210's" executive producer, Aaron Spelling, to recreate that success.
What they've gotten, however, is an overly earnest, often unintentionally funny ripoff of the movie "St. Elmo's Fire." Seven young people live and work in Washington, D.C., and hang out together at a bar called The Round Table.
There's an FBI aspirant. A Secret Service agent. A prosecutor. A Justice Department attorney. And a rookie cop, among others.
But, you'll be thrilled to learn that the show's alleged creator, Nancy Miller, spent a whole week in Washington researching all these roles. Oh, my!
What she's ended up with is just another youth-oriented soap opera - one that can't even come up to the quality level of "90210" or "Melrose Place."
Final Appeal (7 p.m., Ch. 2): If you can't get enough of the sensationalism and dubious research that goes into "Unsolved Mysteries," you'll love "Final Appeal."
It's from the same producers and even has the same host, Robert Stack. Actually, it's taken from a segment on "Unsolved" that investigates whether prisoners have been wrongfully imprisoned.
And it's more reality junk foisted on the viewing public.