July 08, 1996 12:00 PM

>The Fall TV Season


OF THE 42 NETWORK SERIES THAT PREMIERED LAST FALL, only eight are back for their sophomore year. And with 39 new shows set to be introduced this fall, well, it’s not the summer heat that is making TV execs sweat. PEOPLE asked some broadcast insiders to predict 1996-97’s hits and misses.

Sure Things: ABC’s Spin City stars Family Ties alum Michael J. Fox as a savvy deputy mayor of New York City. “The show’s already good,” says one industry source, “and he elevates it to another level.” NBC’s Suddenly Susan marks Brooke Shields‘s series debut as a single, professional woman looking for romance. “Test audiences loved her,” says our expert. “She’s funny and likable.” (And blessedly sandwiched between Seinfeld and ER.)

Iffy: None of our sources was too excited about Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad’s reteaming as a married couple in CBS’s Cosby—or about real-life spouses Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen playing divorced journalists who work at the same newspaper in CBS’s Ink. “If these shows were stronger,” says Ed Martin, senior editor of Inside Media, “why would CBS lump them in one hour?”

Sleepers: Watch for CBS’s Early Edition, with Kyle Chandler as a do-gooder who can see the future; NBC’s Mr. Rhodes, with standup comic Tom Rhodes as a prep school teacher; and NBC’s Men Behaving Badly, which pairs Rob Schneider and Ron Eldard as slob roommates. “Men is the single funniest pilot I saw,” says Steve Grubbs, an ad exec at BBDO. “It shows men are pigs and they’re willing to prove it.”

Down the Drain: CBS’s Public Morals, a sitcom about vice cops from Steven Bochco, could get busted early. “It’s dreary and offensive,” sighs one analyst.

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