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Here's a night-by-night rundown on what to expect

SUNDAY

BRAM AND ALICE (Sundays, 7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): Bram Shepherd (Alfred Molina) is a once-talented, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who hasn't written anything worth reading in years, instead coasting on his reputation and acting out all of his lecherous fantasies with a wide array of women. One such encounter resulted in Alice (Traylor Howard of "Two Guys and a Girl"), the 27-year-old daughter he never knew — and whom he hits on in the pilot episode.

Verdict — Guilty: Yikes, it's hard to believe this piece of junk came from the guys who ran "Frasier" for years. It's awful. Molina is miscast, and it's hard to understand how the never-appealing Howard manages to keep getting work.

Parole report: CBS had a good idea to counter-program with sitcoms on Sunday night, but this show is so bad it could be among the first canceled.

Release date: Sept. 29

AMERICAN DREAMS (Sundays, 7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): This is a drama about a family — the Pryors of Philadelphia — that's actually interesting for viewers' entire families. Set in 1963, the story centers on 15-year-old Meg (Brittany Snow), who, along with her pal Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies) wants nothing more than to dance on "American Bandstand." Her parents, Jack and Helen (Tom Verica and Gail O'Grady), meanwhile, are dealing with the turmoil of raising a family in the '60s, including teenage football star JJ (Will Estes), who constantly butts head with his dad; prissy preteen Patty (Sarah Ramos); and young Will (Ethan Dampf), who never fully recovered from a bout with polio. The cast includes Jack's African-American employee, Henry (Jonathan Adams) and his teenage son, Sam (Arlen Escarpeta), who will provide an entree for stories about the emerging Civil Rights movement.

Verdict — Innocent: A very promising drama indeed, with big plans that include carrying this family through the '60s — from assassinations to Vietnam to women's rights and more. A bright, personable cast and good storytelling could make it happen.

Parole report: This is the sort of show Americans can sit down and watch together on Sunday nights — it's uplifting without being syrupy sweet. Given time to grown, this could be with us for several seasons.

Release date: Sept. 29

THE GRUBBS (Sundays, 8:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Randy Quaid and Carol Kane stars as underachieving, lower-class louts who are incredibly content with their lousy lives — he faked an injury to collect disability; she doesn't do much. They are, however, distressed when the younger of their two sons, 13-year-old Mitch (Michael Cera), shows signs of ambition brought on by the influence of his beautiful new teacher (Lori Rom).

Verdict — Guilty: Um, what were Quaid and Kane thinking? This show is dreadful — perhaps the worst piece of junk any network is foisting on audiences this season.

Parole report: If there's justice, this will go away quickly. But network TV isn't always just, and there's the chance this could ride on "Malcolm in the Middle's" coattails.

Release date: Nov. 3

BOOMTOWN (Sundays, 9 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): The best new cop show on TV this fall is also the most ambitious — it tells the same story from myriad points of view. There's no linear plotline. We get the story from how the detectives see it; how the district attorney sees it; how a reporter sees it; how the paramedics see it. All of which, eventually, adds up to the whole story that none of them has individually.

Verdict — Innocent: "Boomtown" features a fine cast (including Donnie Wahlberg, Mykelti Williamson, Neal McDonough, Gary Basaraba, Jason Gedrick, Nina Gabiras and Lana Parrilla) and the pilot is

wonderfully written by executive producer Graham Yost ("Speed," "Broken Arrow," "From the Earth to the Moon") and directed by Jon Avnet ("Risky Business," "Fried Green Tomatoes" and the TV miniseries "Uprising"). The big question here is whether they can keep it up on a weekly basis.

Parole report: Will viewers like something a little different? Could be — if NBC has enough patience to give it a chance.

Release date: Sept. 29

MONDAY

GIRLS CLUB (Mondays, 8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): David E. Kelley replaces his canceled "Ally McBeal" with another show about female lawyers. Kathleen Robertson ("90210"), Gretchen Mol and Chyler Leigh ("That '80s Show") play three twentysomething associates struggling to make their way in the man's world of a San Francisco law firm.

Verdict — Jury's out: Do we really need another Kelley show about lawyers, particularly given that both "Ally" and "The Practice" ran out of ideas last season? The grade on this one is incomplete, given that critics have seen only an abbreviated version of the pilot at this point, but that was not impressive.

Parole report: It's hard to imagine that this show could do better than "Ally" did last season. And "Ally" got the ax.

Release date: Oct. 21

EVERWOOD (Mondays, 8 p.m., WB/Ch. 30): Treat Williams stars as Dr. Andrew Brown, a world-famous neurosurgeon who, upon the sudden death of his wife, abandons New York City for the small town of Everwood, Colo. — which is sort of the lower 48 equivalent of the town in "Northern Exposure." Andrew, struggling with his own emotions, sets up an unconventional family practice. While 9-year-old Delia (Vivien Cardone of "A Beautiful Mind") seems to be adjusting, 15-year-old Ephraim (Gregory Smith) isn't happy with the move and is furious at his father.

Verdict — Innocent: This shot-in-Utah (except for the first hour) show is one of the most promising of the season. A family show (albeit with some content parents may want to monitor), it's the WB's best hour since "Gilmore Girls" and could turn into the perfect companion for "7th Heaven."

Parole report: By the WB's more limited standards, this show should be a success.

Release date: Sept. 16

STILL STANDING (Mondays, 8:30 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): Mark Addy and Jamy Gertz star as blue-collar Chicago parents raising a teenage daughter and a preteen son. They're "Still Standing" despite the challenges — she's more capable than he is, but they love each other, they love their kids and they have a sense of humor.

Verdict — Innocent: Oh, it's not a great show, but it has its moments. And Addy and Gertz make an unlikely pair but they nonetheless have some sort of weird chemistry that works.

Parole report: This looks like a pretty sure bet — it's much more compatible with its lead-in, "Everybody Loves Raymond," than was "Becker." And "Raymond's" audience is so huge "Still Standing" should do well.

Release date: Sept. 23

HALF AND HALF (Mondays, 8:30 p.m., UPN/Ch. 24): Half-sisters Mona (Rachel True) and Dee Dee (Essence Atkins) grew up not really knowing each other — they had the same father, but the former was raised by the rather bitter first wife (Telma Hopkins) and the latter by the pampered second wife (Valarie Pettiford) and dear old Dad. Now Mona and Dee Dee are living in the same apartment building and working out an uneasy relationship.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: Compared to most of UPN's predominantly African-American sitcoms, this one isn't bad. If that sounds like faint praise, it is. This isn't good, but it isn't awful.

Parole report: It shouldn't do any worse than the rest of UPN's Monday-night lineup.

Release date: Sept. 23

CSI: MIAMI (Mondays, 9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): This is exactly what it sounds like — the "CSI" formula transplanted from Las Vegas to Miami. David Caruso ("NYPD Blue") stars as the head of the Florida team, and a strong cast includes fellow "Blue" alum Kim Delaney, Emily Procter ("West Wing"), Rory Cochrane, Adam Rodriguez ("Roswell") and Khandi Alexander ("NewsRadio").

The rap sheet: If you like "CSI" — and a whole lot of Americans do — you'll like this show. It's just as sharply written, acted and produced, and the Miami location adds some sparkle.

Verdict — Innocent: This is generally believed to be the biggest potential hit of the season, what with the "CSI" connection and a good time slot (where CBS has been underperforming for years). The only possible problem might be if the two shows are too much alike — will viewers watch two hours every week?

Debut date: Sept. 23

TUESDAY

8 SIMPLE RULES . . . (Tuesdays, 7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The title, shortened from "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter," tells the story. John Ritter ("Three's Company") is cast as a newly stay-at-home dad who's dealing with the budding libidos of his two teenage daughters. What with his wife (Katey Segal of "Married . . . With Children") having re-entered the work force, the only sane one around the house seems to be his preteen son.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: Well, it's dopey, but then so was "Three's Company." Ritter and Segal are better than their material, but this is the sort of show (like "Home Improvement" or "Full House") that ABC used to do so well.

Parole report: This is the one new show on ABC's schedule that looks like a pretty good bet to make it to a second season.

Release date: Sept. 17

IN-LAWS (Tuesdays, 7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): Elon Gold ("Clerks") stars in this semiautobiographical sitcom as a newlywed who, along with his wife (Bonnie Sommerville), moves in with her family so that he can attend chef's school. And what a family it is, what with wacky a mother-in-law (Jean Smart of "Designing Women") and an intimidating father-in-law (Dennis Farina of "Crime Story").

Verdict — Jury's out: The pilot has its moments, but you can't help but feel that it ought to be funnier. There's a lot of talent here — both in front of the camera and behind (the producers include "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer and former "Frasier" writer/producer Mark Reisman) — so this is one worth keeping an eye on.

Parole report: It isn't easy for any new show to lead off a night. NBC is putting too much pressure on "In-Laws" by giving it the near-impossible task of jump-starting itself.

Release date: Back-to-back episodes air Sept. 24 at 7 and 7:30 p.m.

LIFE WITH BONNIE (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Bonnie Hunt may be the funniest woman in America, which makes it all the sadder that this isn't a better show. She stars as Bonnie Molloy, a wife, mother and morning talk-show host. In addition to dealing with a doctor husband (Mark Derwin), three kids and a mouthy housekeeper (Marianne Muellerleile) at home, she's got a hyper producer (David Alan Grier) and a lounge lizardlike piano player (Anthony Russell) at work.

Verdict — Jury's out: As always, Bonnie is at her best in the improvised interview segments on her fictional show. If only there were a way to do more of that and less standard sitcom schtick that looks all the more tired with someone as fresh and funny as Hunt delivering the lines.

Parole report: The outlook is grim — ABC expects a new show to be able to compete with "Frasier," "24," "The Guardian" and "Smallville"? That's dumb programming.

Release date: Sept. 24 (special time — 7:30 p.m.)

HAUNTED (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., UPN/Ch. 24): Private investigator Frank Taylor (Matthew Fox of "Party of Five") has been haunted since the unsolved kidnapping of his young son four years earlier. Now, after a near-death experience, he's haunted by actual ghosts who cry out from the grave for justice — and by the vicious ghost of a serial killer (John Mann).

Verdict — Jury's out: It's sort of an intriguing concept — which is probably why the producers ripped it off from "The Sixth Sense." This might have made a pretty good TV movie, but it doesn't look like something that will hold up week in and week out.

Parole report: UPN is hoping this show can hang on to the "Buffy" audience. Not gonna happen.

Release date: Sept. 24

LESS THAN PERFECT (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Sara Rue ("Popular") stars as Claudia "Claude" Casey, a member of the secretary pool at a big TV network who suddenly lands the job as right-hand woman to the network's news anchorman (Eric Roberts), setting up a clash between her and her middle-class buddies (played by Sherri Shepherd and the always-annoying Andy Dick) and the corporate climbers (played by Andrea Parker and Zachary Levi) who want to sabotage Claude and steal her job.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: This show has one big thing going for it — Rue is a total charmer you can't help but love. Too bad she's not in a better show. This isn't awful, but it isn't all that good, either.

Parole report: ABC looks so weak from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday nights its difficult to imagine any of the shows lasting for long.

Release date: Oct. 1

HIDDEN HILLS (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m., Ch. 5): This alleged comedy about two couples (Justin Louis, Paula Marshall, Dondre T. Whitfield and Tamara Taylor) purports to tell us the secret of suburban life — that everyone is obsessed with sex. Constantly. Including the soccer mom (Kristin Bauer) who also happens to have her own porn site on the Internet.

Verdict — Guilty: NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker insists "Hidden Hills" is just like his life. Perhaps he ought to get one. This show is just plain awful — tawdry, annoying, hyper-sexual and just plain not funny.

Parole report: The commercials for this show are far funnier than the show itself. Viewers who do tune in will be disappointed — and will quickly flee to alternate programming.

Release date: Sept. 24

WEDNESDAY

CEDRIC "THE ENTERTAINER" PRESENTS (Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): The comedian tries to revive the variety show — or, at least, the sketch-comedy show — in prime time with this half-hour offering that features a group of regulars and some musical elements.

Verdict — Guilty: If the pilot is any indication, this is going to be hit-and-miss — with a lot more misses than hits. And this is Fox, so you won't be surprised to learn that much of the humor is off-color.

Parole report: No one would love to see variety make a comeback more than me. But this show isn't the one that's going to spark a revival.

Release date: Sept. 18

FASTLANE (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Think "Starsky & Hutch" with a Fox attitude. Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy star as unorthodox cops thrown together in a special, secret unit of the LAPD headed by "Saved by the Bell" and "90210" alumna Tiffani (she-dropped-the-Amber) Thiessen, of all people. It's full of outrageous action, humor, violence and sex, which is what you might expect given that McG, who directed the "Charlie's Angels" movie, is one of the creators and executive producers. (He also directed the pilot.)

Verdict — Misdemeanor: First off, be warned — this is a strong contender for the title of Dirtiest Show on Network TV. (The pilot opens with a woman sticking her hands down Facinelli's pants.) It's also slick, sometimes funny and designed as pure entertainment (if you like this sort of thing).

Parole report: Yikes. This could be a hit.

Release date: Sept. 18

THE TWILIGHT ZONE (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., UPN/Ch. 24): Yes, it's the same concept as original 1959-65 series. And the 1985-88 revival, for that matter — a weekly anthology of offbeat, science fiction/fantasy/horror stories. This time around, Forest Whitaker will stand in for the late Rod Serling as the host.

The rap sheet: It's hard to remake, but this looks at least as good as the '80s version — albeit with, perhaps, an emphasis on younger characters.

Verdict — Jury's out: Will "Enterprise" viewers stick around to watch this? Not all of them, certainly, but maybe enough for this to succeed given UPN's lower expectations.

Release date: Sept. 18

BIRDS OF PREY (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., WB/Ch. 30): It's a superheroines show that owes a lot to the "Batman" movies in both content and tone. In flashbacks, we see the Joker murder Catwoman and shoot and paralyze Batgirl/Barbara Gordon. Now, it's seven years later — Batman is long gone; Barbara Gordon (Dina Meyer) has morphed into computer whiz the Oracle; and the Oracle has teamed up with Batman and Catwoman's daughter, the Huntress (Ashley Scott). The trio is complete with the arrival of Dina (Rachel Skarsten), a teenager with mental powers who becomes Black Canary — and the crime-fighting begins, most notably against master criminal Harley Quinn (Mia Sara).

Verdict — Jury's out: Well, there's hope for this one, but it's no "Smallville." The pilot is too dark and not enough fun to watch.

Parole report: Maybe if they lighten up a bit . . .

Release date: Oct. 9

PRESIDIO MED (Wednesdays, 9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): This ensemble drama set in San Francisco follows the personal and professional lives of a group of mostly female physicians. Blythe Danner plays a devoted OB-GYN; Dana Delaney an oncologist with a troubled marriage and a boyfriend (Oded Fehr) who just joined the practice; Anna Deavere Smith a no-nonsense cardiologist; Sasha Alexander a self-assured plastic surgeon; and Julianne Nicholson a young pediatrician. All of which allows professional and personal stories to wrap around each other.

Verdict — Innocent: The cast is fabulous — how could you ask for more than Danner, Delaney and Smith? And the show is good but not great. Coming from the producers of "ER," you might expect more. Or maybe they really are tiring of the medical series format after all these years.

Parole report: This is the best new medical drama of the season. Unfortunately, the only other new medical drama of the season, ABC's "Meds," also airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. This one has the better shot, but it's only a shot.

Debut date: Previews Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 9 p.m.; regular time slot premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

MDs (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Two "iconoclastic" doctors (John Hannah and William Fichtner) who fancy themselves the civilian equivalents of Hawkeye and Trapper John tackle tough cases, chase women and fight hospital bureaucracy in a San Francisco medical center.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: This is the TV-show equivalent of someone who tries to act cool but isn't. "MDs" tries so hard to be hip and funny and meaningful that it isn't any of the above.

Parole report: This isn't even the best medical drama in its time slot — that honor goes to CBS's "Presidio Med" — so don't expect it to be around for long.

Release date: Sept. 25

THURSDAY

DINOTOPIA (Thursdays, 7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): If you caught the miniseries this past spring, you know what this is all about — two young American guys find themselves stranded in a world where humans co-exist with dinosaurs.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: The good news is that the two remarkably bad actors who starred in the miniseries have been jettisoned in favor of Erik von Detten ("The Princess Diaries") and Shiloh Strong. The bad news is that it appears, as with so many Robert Halmi Sr. productions, that this is all about special effects and the scripts are only an afterthought.

Parole report: This seems like a very expensive proposition to be putting up against "Friends" and "Survivor." It's hard to imagine there will be a whole lot of viewers left to watch "Dinotopia."

Release date: Oct. 10

FAMILY AFFAIR (Thursdays, 7 p.m., WB/Ch. 30): This is indeed a remake of the old '60s sitcom. You know the story: Swinging single Uncle Bill (Gary Cole of the "Brady Bunch" movies) suddenly finds himself saddled with his orphaned nieces and nephew — 6-year-old twins Buffy and Jody and 14-year old Sissy. And doing most of the heavy lifting is his butler, the always put-out Mr. French (Tim Curry).

Verdict — Innocent: This is the single biggest surprise of the season — the pilot is darn good. Curry is a hoot in the role made famous by Sebastian Cabot, and the updating here has brought the show into the 21st century without sacrificing its family nature. I'm astonished myself, but the new "Family Affair" is a delight.

Parole report: The WB has a history of letting shows find an audience, and it will have to do that here. Let's hope the network has the patience to stick with it.

Release date: Debuted Thursday.

PUSH, NEVADA (Thursdays, 8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Intentionally quirky hybrid of mystery drama and game show, this is about a mild-mannered IRS agent (Derek Cecil) who gets sucked into a convoluted (i.e. incomprehensible) mystery that involves various weird characters. Oh, and viewers can win a big cash prize by watching carefully, picking up on clues and figuring out where the money is. Provided, of course, they have nothing else to do in their drab, wretched lives.

Verdict — Guilty: Perhaps the single most unwatchable new show of the season, if only because it's so dull it's impossible to pay attention. And you have to pay close attention to win the money. If anyone other than executive producer Ben Affleck had brought this to ABC, it's hard to imagine it would have ever made it on the air.

Parole report: Yeah, like this is going to be able to compete with "CSI" and "Will & Grace." "Push" could be one of the season's first cancellations.

Release date: Previews Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m.; pilot repeats Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m., followed by Episode 2 at 8 p.m.

GOOD MORNING, MIAMI (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): Is one of the worst new shows of the year, with nothing at all to recommend it. Mark Feuerstein, who failed just a couple years ago as the star of "Conrad Bloom," fails again as hotshot producer Jake Silver, who is called in to rescue a dreadful early morning news/chat show in Florida. He takes the job only because he falls for the hairstylist (Ashley Williams), who turns out to be the girlfriend of the pompous host (Matt Letscher), who is partnered with the Cuban-American woman (Tessie Santiago) who talks like Speedy Gonzalez. Oh, and there's the unbearably wimpy station manager (Jere Burns). What can you say about a show that makes it painful to watch Suzanne Pleshette (as Jake's grandmother) deliver bad lines penned by the producers of "Will & Grace"? Nothing good, I assure you.

Verdict — Guilty: Well, the show has no star — sorry, but Feuerstein just can't carry a sitcom — the supporting cast is bad, the premise is weak and the writing is atrocious. Maybe there is something to that Thursday-night curse on NBC.

Parole report: What this show means is that even fans of the much-diminished "Will & Grace" are going to change channels at 8:30 p.m. This is horrible.

Release date: Sept. 26

WITHOUT A TRACE (Thursdays, 9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): This is "CSI" where the victim is missing, not (necessarily) dead — a somewhat workmanlike, plot-driven hour that chronicles the FBI's Missing Persons Squad as its members use every high-tech gizmo and intuition to find people who have disappeared. There are personal stories about the regular characters (a strong cast includes Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery and Eric Close), but this is mostly about the work.

Verdict — Jury's out: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his team have come up with a show that's very much in the vein of "CSI" — a show that seems sort of familiar but is good enough that you can find yourself sucked in.

Parole report: "Without a Trace" is obviously trying to hold onto the huge audience watching "CSI," and chances are it will do a better job than did "The Agency" last season. And it won't hurt that "ER" is definitely on the decline.

Release date: Sept. 26

FRIDAY

FIREFLY (Fridays, 7 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon takes a whack at outer space in this set-in-the-future space Western. And it's literally a Western in many respects — the (Firefly class) ship travels to planets where ranchers ride horses and herd cattle. There are no aliens in this show, just the aftermath of a galactic civil war, and most of the crew were on the losing side.

Verdict — Innocent: The revamped pilot is pretty good — not that the original was bad, but it wasn't as glib and funny. (The original will air as a TV movie sometime later this season.) I have enough confidence in Whedon & Co. to give this show a chance, but, for all the success "Buffy" and "Angel" have had on the WB and UPN, their audience is still small by major-network standards. And the issue of whether Whedon is spreading himself too thin with three shows is another question.

Parole report: This could work. Fox has made a huge investment in Whedon and this show, so it ought to last out the season, at least.

Release date: Sept. 20

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU (Fridays, 7 p.m., WB/Ch. 30): Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes stars as free-spirited 16-year-old Holly, who moves in with her straight-laced, 28-year-old sister, Val (Jennie Garth of "Beverly Hills, 90210"), setting up lots of sisterly conflict. And lots of slapstick humor along the way.

Verdict — Innocent: Well, this will never be a critical favorite, but the kids and teens it's aimed at will like it. It's silly and too staged, but it's fun and entertaining. Bynes has charisma, and Garth displays heretofore unseen comedic talents.

Parole report: Bynes (a veteran of "The Amanda Show") is a big star among the kids who are too young to be aware of "90210" and Garth, and she'll be a big draw. It's tough for a new show to lead off the night, but this one could do a nice job in the WB's effort to re-create ABC's abandoned, kid-friendly, TGIF lineup.

Release date: Sept. 20

HACK (Fridays, 8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): David Morse ("St. Elsewhere") stars as Mike Olshansky, a former cop who was busted off the force for taking money from a crime scene and begins a new career as a taxi driver — and, armed with his trusty tire iron, unofficial righter-of-wrong and doer-of-good deeds. He's a troubled soul who somewhat reluctantly helps those in even more trouble, and he's not afraid to bust a few heads while he's doing it.

Verdict — Guilty: Oooh, this is the most dangerous new title of the year — how can snotty TV critics resist the urge to comment on the "hacks" that are writing this stuff? You've got to love Morse and Andre Braugher (who plays his ex-partner), but you've got to wonder what possessed them to star in this predictable, derivative show that, in essence, glorifies vigilantism.

Parole report: The last time CBS premiered a crime show on Fridays at 8 p.m. it was "CSI." Well, "Hack" isn't "CSI." Don't look for this to last for long.

Release date: Sept. 27

JOHN DOE (Fridays, 8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): What we do know is that John Doe (Dominic Purcell) is a genius who seems to know everything — except who he is. He has a limitless amount of knowledge in his brain; he sees in black-and-white (except on occasion, which may be a clue); and he decides to use his powers for good. But is he an escaped mental patient? A science experiment of some sort? An amnesiac with a family that's looking for him? Or an alien?

Verdict — Innocent: Yes, it sounds pretty strange — but it's actually intriguing. Purcell has star quality, and the writing in the pilot is good. If they can keep it up, this will be a show worth keeping track of.

Parole report: Looks more like a show with more potential to attract a cult following than break out as a hit.

Release date: Sept. 20

GREETINGS FROM TUCSON (Fridays, 8:30 p.m., WB/Ch. 30): Sitcom centered on 15-year-old David (Pablo Santos), who, in addition to the usual teenage challenges, is dealing with his ethnically mixed family's sudden move to the right side of town. His Hispanic father (Julio Oscar Mechoso) is a successful businessman who has taken his Irish-American wife, his teenage daughter (who denies her Mexican heritage), mother and ne'er-do-well brother to a better neighborhood, where culture shock ensues.

Verdict — Misdemeanor: This is a show you want to be better than it is. It would be great to have a show headlined by Hispanics turn into a break-out hit, but this doesn't look like it will be the one.

Parole report: This is the weak link in the WB's Friday-night chain. It may, however, stick around for a season — after all, the WB didn't rush in and cancel the lame "Raising Dad" until last season was over.

Release date: Sept. 20

ROBBERY HOMICIDE DIVISION (Fridays, 9 p.m., Ch. CBS/Ch. 2): Tom Sizemore stars as the "sometimes outrageous, always strategic" head of an elite LAPD unit that tackles high-profile crimes in Los Angeles. He's backed by a multiethnic team of detectives who mix dry humor with crime-solving.

Verdict — Jury's out: Not available for preview.

Parole report: Well, getting rid of the original title ("RHD/LA") was a good idea. But CBS has more than its share of struggles on Friday nights, "Hack" is a huge longshot as this show's lead-in, and going up against the established "Law &Order: Special Victims Unit" is going to be tough. In other words, this is also a longshot.

Release date: Sept. 27