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WILL COSBY'S NEW SHOW MIRROR HIS ONE SUCCESS - OR HIS MANY FAILURES?

Well, we're all supposed to be excited because Bill Cosby is planning a return to the world of situation comedy.

Your local television editor would like to reserve judgment and wait to see if this latest Cosby venture is a recreation of his one mega-success or a rehash of his many television failures.Cosby has announced plans to team up with the Carsey-Werner Co. - which produced the huge hit "Cosby" - to do an American version of the British comedy "One Foot in the Grave." He'll play a curmudgeon who's between jobs.

The show, which is tentatively scheduled to go into production in the fall of 1996, has not yet been sold to a network. But it's fairly certain that one of them will bite, hoping that lightning will strike the same spot twice.

What Cosby is hoping for is the kind of success he had with his 1984-91 sitcom "Cosby," which not only was the top-rated show five consecutive years but helped vault NBC into first place in the ratings - and revived the sitcom genre, which had been declared dead by many television "experts."

Your local television editor maintains, however, that "Cosby" was great in its first season (before they ran out of Cosby's stand-up material to base episodes on), pretty good in its second season, and then it coasted for five years, becoming increasingly preachy and decreasingly funny.

And a rather convincing case can be made that "Cosby" was the exception to Cosby's relatively unsuccessful television career.

Just look at what he's done since. A syndicated version of the game show "You Bet Your Life" and last season's detective show "The Cosby Mysteries" - both of which bombed in the ratings.

And then there were his pre-"Cosby" failures - "The Bill Cosby Show," which limped along for two season (1969-71) before getting the ax; "The New Bill Cosby Show," a variety hour that was dropped after airing for eight months in 1972-73; and "Cos," a comedy/variety hour that lasted less than two months in 1976.

Other than "Cosby," his only success was in "I Spy" (1965-68) - and that show was not a big ratings success in its three seasons on the air, never even cracking the top 25.

Can lightning strike again? People as talented as Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett have never been able to recreate their one big success on TV despite numerous attempts.

Maybe Cosby can do it. But don't hold your breath.

THERE WERE 15 "VOYAGER" VOYAGES: Twice in the past week, "Star Trek" fans have insisted to your local television editor that only a handful of "Voyager" episodes have aired.

"There couldn't have been more than four or five," insisted one man. "Oh, six or seven at the most," maintained another.

Well, believe it or not, UPN has aired 15 hours of the latest "Trek" series. It only seems like fewer because those same 15 have been airing over and over again - and two of those hours were actually only one episode - the show's pilot.

Actually, the show produced 19 hourlong episodes in its first season of production. But UPN decided to hold back four of them, wanting to get an early start on the fall 1995 season.

(The first of those four episodes airs Monday, Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. on KJZZ-Ch. 14.)

The producers of "Voyager" have promised to produce an additional 22 episodes for the upcoming season, which would total 26. But who knows if UPN will again hold back a few to get an early start in the fall of 1996.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST: The Family Channel is going way, way back into television history to dust off a moldy oldie. "Sky King," the 1951-54 children's series, will air in a three-hour mini-marathon on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Even the folks at Family admit the show is "corny to the point of being hilarious."

On a more interesting note, CBS is going back almost three decades to retrieve a classic hour of television - Barbara Streisand's 1966 special "Color Me Barbara."

The hour will air Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.

MURPHY STRIKES BACK: As it enters its eight season, one might expect that "Murphy Brown" would have become irrelevant.

Indeed, the show isn't as good as it once was. But it's still better than most of what's on television today.

And the show has pulled off a pair of coups in recent weeks that reinforce its cutting-edge quality. First, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich agreed to appear in a promotional spot in which he all but hawks the show to viewers.

How's that for a conservative acting friendly toward a liberal?

And then comes the news that John F. Kennedy Jr. will make an appearance in the show's season premiere on Sept. 18.

Star Candice Bergen maintains that this will be the last season for "Murphy Brown." If so, it appears to be headed out on a high note.

QUITTING: Bill Wendell, the announcer on both David Letterman shows - "Late Show" and "Late Night" - for the past 13 years, is quitting the end of August. He's apparently unhappy because he doesn't have enough to do on the show, being relegated to the opening joke about New York City, listing the guests and making the introduction of Letterman.

Gee, it must be tough to be underworked and overpaid.