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TV FALL PREVIEW!: SCOTT PIERCE'S `FRIENDLY' GUIDE TO THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

The networks are trying to get "Friends"-ly with viewers this fall.

Which is not particularly surprising, considering that "Friends" has become a huge hit last season.Still, there are more than a dozen new shows on the four broadcast networks (and network wannabe the WB) that could conceivably be looked upon as variations on the "Friends" theme of a group of personable young people who hang out together and do various amusing things:

- "Too Something" is about two male "Friends."

- "Misery Loves Company" is about three middle-aged "Friends" going through divorces.

- "Life Happens" is about a young man and his "Friends" - who he has to balance with raising his younger siblings.

- "First Time Out" is about three female "Friends."

- "Can't Hurry Love" is a rather blatant rip-off of "Friends" - just with three "Friends" instead of six.

- "Partners" is about a guy, his friend and his fiancee - and was created by two former "Friends" producers and writers.

- "If Not for You" brings together a guy and his "Friends" and a girl and her "Friends."

- "The Drew Carey Show" is a blue-collar, thirtysomething "Friends."

- "The Single Guy" is about a guy and his married "Friends."

- "Caroline in the City" is about a cartoonist and her "Friends."

- "The Crew" is about four airline attendants who are "Friends."

- "Dweebs" is about "Friends" who happen to be computer nerds.

- "The Bonnie Hunt Show" is about a TV reporter and her "Friends."

Any similarities between these new shows and "Friends" are, of course, purely coincidental - at least if you listen to the stars, producers and network executives, all of whom are loath to admit it.

Of course, the case can be made that "Friends" itself was simply a reworking of any number of other shows that preceded it. For example, as much as "The Bonnie Hunt Show" has certain "Friends" similarities, Hunt's last sitcom - the short-lived "The Building" - was even more like NBC's hit.

And it predated it.

One thing is certain about the new TV season - comedy is king. Of the 42 new series - that's right 42 new series - on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB, a whopping 27 of them are sitcoms.

But the mix includes a prime-time cartoon, seven rather traditional dramas, a couple of soap operas, a couple of sci-fi series, and a couple of shows that defy easy description.

What follows is a quick look at all 42.

(And, remember, locally ABC is seen on Ch. 4, Fox on Ch. 13, UPN on Ch. 14 and the WB on Ch. 30. As of Sunday, Sept. 10, Ch. 2 becomes the local CBS outlet and Ch. 5 will be Utah's NBC affiliate.)

SUNDAY

BROTHERLY LOVE (6 p.m., NBC): Joey Lawrence ("Blossom") co-stars with real-life brothers Matthew and Andrew in this family-oriented sitcom. Joey plays the elder half brother who comes into the lives of his siblings and their mother (Melinda Culea) after the death of their father.

Quality quotient: This is one of the big surprises of the season - it's pretty good. The youngest Lawrence can be a bit annoying, but altogether this is a nice family show.

Performance potential: It's a tough time slot, and it won't be a big hit, but it could attract enough young viewers to survive.

Debut date: Previews Saturday, Sept. 16 (after Miss America Pageant); regular premiere is Sunday, Sept. 24.

SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND (6 p.m., Fox): This 21st century sci-fi series follows the adventures of several young fighter pilots as they join the battle that Earth suddenly finds itself fighting against an aggressive alien race.

Quality quotient: The special effects are great (at least in the pilot), the idea is intriguing, the cast is attractive - but the writing is a big question. The drama is a bit over-the-top in the pilot.

Performance potential: It's a longshot, but Fox has made a big monetary commitment and might stick with this show for a while or move it to a different time slot - like maybe Fridays at 7 p.m.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 24.

PINKY & THE BRAIN (6 p.m., WB): Animated spinoff featuring characters - a pair of lab rats, actually - previously seen in "Animaniacs."

Quality quotient: No pilot was made available for preview, but segments on "Animaniacs" have been clever and funny.

Performance potential: Not much of anybody is going to watch much of anything on the WB.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 10.

MINOR ADJUSTMENTS (6:30 p.m., NBC): Sitcom featuring stand-up comedian Rondell Sheridan, who stars as a child psychologist, husband and father of a 10-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

Quality quotient: This is the sort of stupid, brainless junk you might expect to find in ABC's T.G.I.F. lineup. It's full of dopey writing and sitcom cliches and the kids are of the incredibly annoying, smart-mouth variety.

Performance potential: Won't do any better than "Brotherly Love," and could do a lot worse.

Debut date: Previews, Saturday, Sept. 16 (after Miss America); regular premiere is Sunday, Sept. 24.

KIRK (7:30 p.m., WB): Kirk Cameron ("Growing Pains") stars as a recent college graduate whose dreams of a career as an illustrator are interrupted when he suddenly has to assume responsibility for raising his three younger siblings.

Quality quotient: Cameron has a certain appeal, and this is relatively inoffensive stuff, but it's woefully cliched and the pilot has an almost amateurish feel to it.

Performance potential: Not much of anybody is going to watch much of anything on the WB.

Debut date: Previews on Aug. 23 and Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m.; regular premiere is Sunday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.

ALMOST PERFECT (7:30 p.m., CBS): Sitcom about a woman (Nancy Travis) whose life is "almost perfect" - she's talented, attractive, and she's just been promoted to executive producer of a hit TV show (that looks suspiciously like "NYPD Blue"). The only thing missing is love, and that walks into her life in the person of district attorney (Kevin Kilner), but the two must now figure a way to balance their demanding careers with their romance.

Quality quotient: This is the best new sitcom of the season - witty, bright, funny and utterly enjoyable. The two leads have chemistry and the supporting cast is superior.

Performance potential: If "Cybill" performs well on Sundays, so should "Almost Perfect," which is actually a better show.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 17.

TOO SOMETHING (7:30 p.m., Fox): Sitcom about two buddies (creators/producers/writers Eric Schaeffer and Donal Lardner Ward), one of whom fancies himself a novelist and the other a photographer. But they're both working in a mailroom while dreaming big dreams.

Quality quotient: This is aimed at a younger audience, which may identify with the leads, but it won't appeal much to anybody else.

Performance potential: Chances of survival are slim.

Debut date: Sunday, Oct. 1.

SIMON (7:30 p.m., WB): Sitcom about an optimistic but none-too-bright young man who works as a program executive at a cable network.

Quality quotient: Simon acts an awful lot like Forrest Gump, without the charm - and without any real laughs in this alleged comedy.

Performance potential: Not much of anybody is going to watch much of anything on the WB.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 10.

FIRST TIME OUT (8 p.m., WB): Latina comedian Jackie Guera heads the cast of this sitcom about three young women in their 20s who are trying to make their way in the world.

Quality quotient: Awful show - the pilot consists of bad fat jokes and bad sexual humor.

Performance potential: Not much of anybody is going to watch much of anything on the WB.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 10.

MISERY LOVES COMPANY (8:30 p.m., Fox): This sitcom covers the hilarious subject of divorce, centering on three guys (Dennis Boutsikaris, Stephen Furst and Julius Carry) in various stages of ending their marriages.

Quality quotient: The pilot is being reshot, but clips indicated a loud, obnoxious show in the "Married . . . With Children" vein.

Performance potential: Maybe fans of "Married" will watch this.

Debut date: Sunday, Oct. 1.

CLEGHORNE! (8:30 p.m., WB): Ellen Cleghorne ("Saturday Night Live") stars as a single working mother with overbearing parents and a lazy sister who move into the apartment next door in this sitcom.

Quality quotient: Not available for preview.

Performance potential: Not much of anybody is going to watch much of anything on the WB.

Debut date: Sunday, Sept. 10.

MONDAY

CAN'T HURRY LOVE (7:30 p.m., CBS): Nancy McKeon ("Facts of Life") stars as Annie, a young professional looking for love and relying on the support of her friends - a saucy neighbor (Mariska Hargitay) and rather crude co-worker (Louis Mandylor).

Quality quotient: The most blatant "Friends" rip-off, this is flat and not particularly interesting. The most appealing character in the pilot is the guest star who Annie almost falls in love with.

Performance potential: This show would never survive on its own, but might make it being hammocked between "The Nanny" and "Murphy Brown."

Debut date: Monday, Sept. 18.

PARTNERS (8 p.m., Fox): The relationship between a pair of best friends/business partners Bob (Jon Cryer) and Owen (Tate Donovan) is suddenly changed when Owen proposes to his girlfriend, Alicia (Maria Pitillo).

Quality quotient: Very clever, funny new sitcom. The writing is superior, as are the performances from the three leads. And Catherine Lloyd Burns, who plays Bob and Owen's efficient but accident-prone assistant, is a hoot.

Performance potential: Fox is banking on establishing a sitcom presence in this time slot, as "Murphy Brown" unwinds its final season. And it just might work.

Debut date: Monday, Sept. 11.

IF NOT FOR YOU (8:30 p.m., CBS): Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria stars as two people both unenthusiastically engaged to others - but sparks fly when they meet.

Quality quotient: No pilot was available for preview, but clips appeared pretty good. (The original pilot is being reworked.)

Performance potential: Impossible to say at this point.

Debut date: Monday, Sept. 18.

NED AND STACEY (8:30 p.m., Fox): A mismatched couple (Thomas Haden Church of "Wings" and Debra Messing) are like oil and water. But when he needs a wife to get a promotion and she needs someplace to live, the two enter into a loveless marriage that might not be as loveless as they thought.

Quality quotient: This is a show with real potential.

Performance potential: If "Partners" can attract an audience, "Ned and Stacey" ought to be able to hold on to it.

Debut date: Monday, Sept. 11.

NOWHERE MAN (9 p.m., UPN): In a twist on "The Fugitive," a photographer (Bruce Greenwood) discovers that his life has been erased. His family and friends profess never to have heard of him. So he's off on a trek to discover who did this to him and why.

Quality quotient: The 90-minute pilot is intriguing, but you've got to wonder if the concept will hold up.

Performance potential: UPN is looking for something to attract "Star Trek: Voyager" fans. This will hold some of them.

Debut date: Aug. 28.

TUESDAY

HUDSON STREET (7 p.m., ABC): Tony Danza stars as a rather crusty, conservative police detective who is attracted to his opposite - a liberal reporter (Lori Laughlin of "Full House").

Quality quotient: This show is better - and smarter - than you might expect. Danza is a little out of his element in a more sophisticated comedy, but it's definitely a step beyond the kid-oriented "Who's the Boss." But whether chemistry develops between the two leads remains to be seen.

Performance potential: Could be a hit.

Debut date: Tuesday, Sept. 19.

JOHN GRISHAM'S THE CLIENT (7 p.m., CBS): Jobeth Williams stars as a Southern attorney and recovering alcoholic who - after losing custody of her own children - specializes in helping young clients.

Quality quotient: This show is based on the movie, which was based on the book. And it comes across like a pale copy of a copy. The two-hour pilot is a rehash, and it's slow-paced and dull.

Performance potential: Probably won't be around for long.

Debut date: 2-hour preview on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m.; regular premiere is Tuesday, Sept. 19

DEADLY GAMES (8 p.m., UPN): A young scientist (Stephen T. Kay) accidentally brings his video game characters to life - and the evil villain (Christopher Lloyd) becomes his chief nemesis.

Quality quotient: The pilot is fun to watch, but this looks like a concept that could wear thin quickly.

Performance potential: Not a hit in the making.

Debut date: Tuesday, Sept. 5.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (8:30 p.m., NBC): Steve Rutledge has a few problems in his life - his wife loses her job, his idiot brother-in-law moves in with him, his best friend announces he's gay, his secretary is more than a bit aggressive, and his grandmother isn't completely in touch with reality. And this is a comedy.

Quality quotient: This show tries really hard to be funny - too hard. It's run-of-the-mill stuff that pales in comparison to "Frasier."

Performance potential: This may ride "Frasier's" coattails, but it's more likely that "Frasier" fans will switch to "Coach" at 8:30 p.m.

Debut date: Tuesday, Sept. 19.

LIVE SHOT (9 p.m., UPN): Drama series about the staff of a big city television newsroom - their lives, loves, jealousies and infighting.

Quality quotient: It's not just that this show is muddled and trite, it's also dumb and offensive. (Watch out for the sexual content.)

Performance potential: This should be UPN's first cancellation.

Debut date: Tuesday, Sept. 5.

WEDNESDAY

BLESS THIS HOUSE (7 p.m., CBS): Blue-collar family sitcom that's sort of cross between "Roseanne" and "The Honeymooners." Andrew (formerly Dice) Clay and Cathy Moriarty star as the loving but bickering blue-collar couple raising two kids.

Quality quotient: Much better show than you might expect - very much in the "Roseanne" vein. Clay is actually likable, and he and Moriarty have some nice chemistry. But beware of sexual innuendos - also in the "Roseanne" vein.

Performance potential: This could well turn into a hit.

Debut date: Wednesday, Sept. 13.

THE DREW CAREY SHOW (7:30 p.m., ABC): The real Drew Carey, a stand-up comedian, stars as the fictional Drew Carey, a regular guy in his 30s who lives in Cleveland, has a dead-end job, no love life and a group of friends - and whose sardonic humor is ever-present.

Quality quotient: Drawn right from Carey's very funny stand-up act, there are some great jokes in the pilot - but the act hasn't entirely meshed into the sitcom format. The humor is also rather adult for the early time slot.

Performance potential: This would seem to be a dream time slot, between "Ellen" and "Grace Under Fire." But if CBS can get anything going with its sitcoms, ABC could be in for a fight.

Debut date: Wednesday, Sept. 13.

CENTRAL PARK WEST (8 p.m., CBS): This prime-time soap opera with a large cast is about beautiful people in New York City. The action surrounds a publishing empire, with a new editor (Mariel Hemingway) taking over a magazine where the publisher's witchy stepdaughter works. And the stepson is a JFK Jr.-type.

Quality quotient: Although this is from the creator of "Melrose Place," this is smarter and far less campy. It's not great art, but it could be a pretty good soap opera.

Performance potential: There's room in this time slot for a show like "CPW," but CBS will have to be patient - all serials need time to build an audience.

Debut date: Wednesday, Sept. 13.

THE NAKED TRUTH (8:30 p.m., ABC): Tea Leoni stars as a former photojournalist who left her marriage to a wealthy publisher without a dime - and is blackballed in the legitimate press. The only job she can get is chasing celebrities for a supermarket tabloid.

Quality quotient: The pilot is somewhat uneven, but there are moments of real humor here - and a good deal of potential.

Performance potential: Following "Grace Under Fire," this show almost can't help but be at least a moderate hit - and maybe more.

Debut date: Wednesday, Sept. 13.

COURTHOUSE (9 p.m., CBS): Legal drama featuring an ensemble cast (including Patrica Wettig, Robin Givens and Brad Johnson) set in a big-city courthouse. It's an attempt to mix legal issues with so-called "cutting edge" material - the sort of explicit language and content seen in "NYPD Blue."

Quality quotient: Although executive producer/creator/writer Deborah Joy Levine expresses great admiration for "NYPD Blue," she hasn't come close to recreating it. She can do the bad language and the brief nudity, but this is not quality drama. It's little more than rehashed television with a big dose of exploitation.

Performance potential: Stands little if any chance of succeeding.

Debut date: Wednesday, Sept. 13.

THURSDAY

CHARLIE GRACE (7 p.m., ABC): Mark Harmon stars as a divorced, single father ex-cop turned private eye. His primary employer is an ex-girlfriend/attorney.

Quality quotient: TV has had more than its share of private eyes, and there's nothing new here. And Harmon is getting a bit long in the tooth to be a young playboy type.

Performance potential: This show won't be around for long.

Debut date: Thursday, Sept. 14.

THE SINGLE GUY (7:30 p.m., NBC): Jonathan Silverman stars as a writer who discovers that most of his friends are married - and want to get him married, too.

Quality quotient: Great potential here. Executive producer/writer Brad Hall is very talented and the cast is bright and personable (although the inclusion of Ernest Borgnine as the apartment building super may be a miscalculation).

Performance potential: Sandwiched between "Friends" and "Seinfeld," this show would have to be dreadful not to be a hit. And this could turn out to be a very good show.

Debut date: Thursday, Sept. 21.

THE CREW (7:30 p.m., Fox): The crew consists of four Miami-based flight attendants. Two are female - one a free spirit and the other an uptight conservative (who's supposed to be a Salt Lake native) - and the other two are male - one a good-looking Southern lummox and the other gay. There's also a witchy boss and a dim pilot.

Quality quotient: The original pilot of this series was just awful, and will never air. The revised edition is a whole lot better - but it's still just OK.

Performance potential: At best, it might hang on to some of the audience that will be watching "Living Single" at 7 p.m.

Debut date: Thursday, Aug. 31.

THE MONROES (8 p.m., ABC): Serial that follows the lives, loves and careers of Maryland's Monroe family - the patriarch (William Devane of "Knots Landing" ), a man in sort of the Joe Kennedy Sr. vein, his wife (Susan Sullivan of "Falcon Crest") and their sons: a congressman, an astronaut and a law student; and their daughters: a lawyer who seems to be having an affair with someone in the White House, and a photographer.

Quality quotient: This is sort of a smarter "Dynasty," without the camp, a "Dallas" that revolves around politics instead of oil. The pilot spends a lot of time setting things up, but it has potential. And Devane is one of the most talented - and under-appreciated - actors working in TV today.

Performance potential: This is good counter-programming to "Seinfeld" and "New York Undercover," going after a completely different audience. "The Monroes" biggest problems may be a weak lead-in, CBS's "New York News" - and whether ABC will have the patience needed to let it build an audience.

Debut date: Previews Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 9 p.m.; same episode airs in regular time slot on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 9 p.m.

NEW YORK NEWS (8 p.m., CBS): Ensemble drama about the goings on at a tabloid newspaper. The cast includes Mary Tyler Moore as the editor in chief, Joe Morton as the managing editor and Madeline Kahn as the gossip columnist.

Quality quotient: Not available for preview.

Performance potential: Too early to say, but we do know that CBS is retooling the show to appeal to the older viewers who will be watching "Murder, She Wrote" at 7 p.m. And, considering the competition, "NYN" could hold on to them.

Debut date: Thursday, Sept. 28.

CAROLINE IN THE CITY (8:30 p.m., NBC): Leah Thompson stars as a successful cartoonist whose love life is less successful. The cast includes her sometimes boyfriend/boss (Eric Lutes), her brooding new assistant (Malcolm Gets), and her best friend/neighbor (Amy Pietz).

Quality quotient: NBC programmers seem to think this is one of the big sensations of the year, but it's really rather average. Not bad, but not real good.

Performance potential: It's hard to go wrong in a time slot like this (between "Seinfeld" and "ER") - although the late, unlamented "Madman of the People" proved that it can be done. "Caroline" is a much better show than "Madman," and will probably be a hit.

Debut date: Thursday, Sept. 21.

MURDER ONE (9 p.m., ABC): This series will follow a single murder case throughout the entire season. And the murder is sensational. A teenage girl is killed, and it turns out that her sister is the mistress of a wealthy, high-profile Los Angeles man - who turns out to be the prime suspect. The series revolves around his defense attorney (Daniel Benzali), but includes cops, witnesses, district attorneys, reporters, etc.

Quality quotient: This is one of the best new shows of the fall. The writing and performances are both outstanding - you may well find yourself sucked into the story.

Performance potential: This is ABC's big gamble, going head-to-head with mega-hit "ER." "Murder's" first few episodes will air on Tuesdays but whether it can survive on Thursdays is iffy.

Debut date: First three episodes are scheduled to air on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. beginning Sept. 19. When it will move to Thursdays has yet to be announced.

FRIDAY

DWEEBS (7 p.m., CBS): Sitcom about a relatively normal office manager (Farrah Forke of "Wings") who goes to work for a highly successful, brilliant computer whiz (Peter Scolari) and his cadre of equally brilliant - and socially misfit - computer dweebs.

Quality quotient: Not bad, but nothing to get excited about.

Performance potential: Not bad isn't good enough for a show trying to lead off a Friday schedule. This won't be around for long.

Debut date: Friday, Sept. 22.

STRANGE LUCK (7 p.m., Fox): Chance Harper (D.B. Sweeney) never knows what's going to happen next. Since suriving a plane crash as a youngster, Chance is always surrounded by one big event after another - suicide attempts, fires, robberies, murders, accidents or winning the lottery. To take advantage of his luck, he works as a photographer while searching for a long-lost brother.

Quality quotient: It's certainly offbeat, and it's intriguing. It's also very well done.

Performance potential: (Fans of "The X-Files," the hit that follows this show, will probably enjoy "Strange Luck" as well.

Debut date: Friday, Sept. 15.

THE BONNIE HUNT SHOW (7:30 p.m., CBS): Hunt stars as a TV reporter who has just moved from a small station to Chicago, where she does light features. This comedy mixes scripted material about Bonnie's office and home life with unscripted, improvised segments with her out on assignment.

Quality quotient: A full pilot was not avabilable for preview, but clips of Hunt doing off-the-cuff interviews with young kids were and absolute scream.

Performance potential: It's too bad this show is buried in a terrible time slot. Unless it gets moved to another night - say, Mondays - the odds are against it.

Debut date: Friday, Sept. 22.

AMERICAN GOTHIC (9 p.m., CBS): Bizarre but compelling drama that follows the battle between good and evil in a small town - and it's the town sheriff (Gary Cole) who's evil incarnate. The cliff-hanging pilot episode combines murder, violence, various secrets and a touch of the occult.

Quality quotient: This is the most difficult show of the year to describe - it's at once repulsive and enthralling. The quality of writing and acting is exceptional, and - while it's certainly not to everyone's taste - it's also about the best new show of the season. (But definitely not for kids.)

Performance potential: This is going to be a tough sell, and some viewers will reject it out of hand. But fans of two shows that air Friday nights just prior to "Gothic" - CBS's "Picket Fences" and Fox's "The X-Files" - could well be attracted to this hour.

Debut date: Friday, Sept. 22.

SATURDAY

THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW (7 p.m., ABC): Stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy brings his down-home act to this sitcom, starring as a blue-collar husband and father.

Quality quotient: Not available for preview. But the fact that the original pilot was scrapped is not a good sign.

Performance potential: Unless this gets a different time slot, it probably won't be around for long.

Debut date: Previews Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m.; regular debut is Saturday, Sept. 16.

JAG (7 p.m., NBC): The title is an abbreviation for judge advocate general, and the main character - Lt. Harmon Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott) - is a U.S. Navy lawyer who's sort of a troubleshooter.

Quality quotient: Surprisingly good show - or at least the two-hour pilot was very good. Elliott is a very attractive lead for the series and the writing is good - it's from executive Don Bellisario, whose credits include "Magnum, P.I." and "Quantum Leap." But whether it can live up to its pilot - which includes footage aboard an aircraft carrier and aerial dogfights - is questionable.

Performance potential: Looks like good counterprogramming to the "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and the sitcoms on ABC and Fox. Probably won't be a big hit, but could be a success.

Debut date: Saturday, Sept. 23 (2-hour pilot episode).

MAYBE THIS TIME (7:30 p.m., ABC): Marie Osmond stars as a recently divorced single mother who lives with her mother (Betty White) and runs the family coffee shop. Both her mother (who has married and buried five husbands) and her pre-teen daughter (Ashley Johnson) want her to try to meet new men.

Quality quotient: The writing is insipid, Osmond displays no talent as a comedic actress and Johnson is annoying at best. The only thing worth watching here is Betty White, who is trapped in a project unworthy of her talent.

Performance potential: Expect a relatively quick cancellation.

Debut date: Previews Friday, Sept. 15, at 8:30 p.m.; regular premiere is Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

THE PRESTON EPISODES (7:30 p.m., Fox): David Alan Grier ("In Living Color") stars as a newly divorced man who quits his job as a professor to become an award-winning journalist. But the only job he can get is writing captions for a celebrity photo magazine.

Quality quotient: Not available for preview - but, again, the fact that the original pilot has been scrapped is not a good sign.

Performance potential The success of this show is almost entirely dependent on whether "Martin" can succeed on Saturday nights.

Debut date: Saturday, Sept. 9.

THE HOME COURT (8:30 p.m., NBC): Pamela Reed stars as a Chicago family-court judge who's tough on the job but struggles at home as the single mother of four.

Quality quotient: There are some funny lines here, but the pilot is a somewhat uncomfortable mix of home and court and the whole thing is a bit too loud and abrasive.

Performance potential: Buried on Saturdays behind "John Larroquette," this show doesn't stand a chance.

Debut date: Saturday, Sept. 30.