Midseason Madness

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The Alphabet network has had a fine season, tying with CBS for the number one spot in the November sweeps period.

Hits

Lost returned and delivered plenty of thrills. Desperate Housewives is hit or miss this season, but still a ratings king. Commander In Chief's female US President prompted an outcry over "liberal Hollywood." Freddie Prinze's creatively titled Freddie is hanging tough, partly thanks to funny sidekick Brian Austin Green, and Invasion is holding up well in its post-Lost time slot.

Misses

Night Stalker was an ill-advised remake of the 1970s cult series, and it suffered the same fate as the original. Let it be known: Whenever television networks make shows about newspaper reporters investigating the paranormal, someone dies.

Alas, poor Alias, we knew her well. ABC announced this will be the last season of the spy show, and let's hope they send it off with a bang. Idea: Bring back Joel Grey as the alternate Sloan, which was hilarious!

Supernanny's Jo Frost and her teachings will have to wait until ABC decides what to do with them. Guess that means America's kids are all better now.

When the real estate bubble burst, so did Hot Properties. This sitcom about real estate agents was oversold to begin with, and prospective buyers left it to languish on the market. Heh heh, real estate references.

Replacements and Returnees

What About Brian? stars 7th Heaven hunk Barry Watson as Brian, a guy just trying to navigate the ups and downs of young life in Los Angeles. What's a hunk to do? Schedule TBA.

Shows with big-name stars are always a surefire hit. Emily's Reasons Why Not stars Heather Graham as a cool single girl who works in the Los Angeles publishing industry. She tries to run her romantic life by guidelines, which she calls "reasons"--ergo, the title of the show! Fellas, be warned: based on a chick-lit novel. Premieres Monday, January 9 at 9/8c.

Crumbs stars Fred Savage and Jane Curtin in another charmingly dysfunctional family comedy from the creator of Caroline in the City. Keep an eye out for William Devane's soft beard. Premieres Thursday, January 12 at 9:30 p.m.

In Justice is a courtroom drama with a twist: While most shows are about getting criminals into prison, this show is about getting innocent folks out of the clink. Kyle MacLachlan stars as a lawyer committed to helping people sent "up the river" due to sloppy police work, false testimony, and biased juries. Premieres Friday, January 6 at 9 p.m.

Sons and Daughters is executive-produced by Lorne Michaels and features a blend of scripted and improvised comedy that tells tales of love, marriage, and family. It's being described as an offbeat cross between a Todd Solondz movie and Arrested Development, which means it could develop a hardcore fan base of up to seven people. Scheduling TBA.

The Evidence is almost the flipside of In Justice, as it's about the incontrovertible truth of evidence in the criminal process. Orlando Jones and Martin Landau star in this procedural drama. Scheduling TBA.

John Stamos's charming Jake In Progress is returning to its midseason roost, and guess what? He has a new haircut! Scheduling TBA.

Thursday, January 5, 8 p.m. Dancing With the Stars is back. Just accept it.

Poor Parisians. First the riots, now The Bachelor in Paris? Monday, January 10, 10 p.m.

The Eye net is going strong with a powerhouse lineup of solid shows like CSI and the ever-growing NCIS.

Hits

How I Met Your Mother owes much of its success to the non-Doogie Neil Patrick Harris. Anyone who saw his funny turn in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle already knew of his untapped potential. More stunning: Ghost Whisperer cheats death and becomes a hit.

Misses

Turns out TV couldn't support so many sci-fi shows, and Threshold was put on hiatus indefinitely. Also taking a breather is Out of Practice, but CBS says it will return. The Henry Winkler/Stockard Channing sitcom is the second-highest rated new sitcom of the season behind NBC's My Name Is Earl.

Replacements and Returnees

Love Monkey, starring Tom Cavanaugh as a single-guy record executive. Since TV is fantasy and not reality, TV.com bets his character won't be a grody jerk. Premiere is Tuesday, January 17 at 10 p.m., after which it will move to its regular time slot of Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Courting Alex, previously titled The Jenna Elfman Show, which was previously titled Everything I Know About Men, is a single-gal relationship comedy starring former Dharma Jenna Elfman. She plays a single lawyer looking for love in the big city. The secret weapon of this show: Dabney Coleman. Premieres 9:30 p.m., Monday, January 23.

Also on deck is perennial midseasoner Julia Louis Dreyfus with The New Adventures of Old Christine, and David Mamet's special forces action/drama The Unit.

Things still aren't so good at the Peacock--they barely managed to beat out Fox for third place in the sweeps.

Hits

My Name is Earl swooped down from the sky and saved the sitcom genre with one swipe of its handlebar mustache. Surface turned into a respectable Monday-night hit. The Office got a good performance review and a ratings raise. Kerr Smith of Dawson's Creek amps up the action on E-Ring as a gung-ho new team member.

Misses

Inconceivable was just that for most viewers. The prospect of Three Wishes wasn't enough to make people watch the show. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart was just boring. Joey got yanked in NBC's sweeping effort to make their Thursday night "must-see" again. It'll return, along with Trump's The Apprentice, after coverage wraps up of the Olympics.

Replacements and Returnees

With Conviction, Law & Order creator Dick Wolf is back, and he's got something new up his sleeve: a lawyer drama. This show is about young attorneys in New York. Premieres January 1.

Four Kings settles into Joey's time slot on Thursday, January 5. This show, from the creators of Will & Grace, stars Seth Green as one of a group of 20-something adults living, loving, and learning about life in the Big Apple... Wait a minute! They got rid of Joey and remade Friends?

Religious drama The Book of Daniel arrives just in time to fill the void left by 7th Heaven. Daniel is being billed as a provocative drama, starring Aidan Quinn as an edgy Episcopalian minister who actually sees and speaks to Jesus. NBC has already cut its order for the show. Premieres Friday, January 6, 9 p.m.

Windfall is a drama starring Luke Perry that follows a group of people whose lives are changed when they win the lottery. Scheduling TBA.

One can only guess what hilarity TV's Most Outrageous Moments will bring. The press release says there will be outtakes from Joey. Scheduling TBA.

Once slated for the fall season, Thick and Thin stars Jessica Capshaw (The Practice) as Mary, a formerly overweight woman who has lost weight through a program at a weight-loss center. Hijinks ensue when Mary's friends and family can't stop thinking of her as overweight. From SNL writer Paula Pell and executive-produced by Lorne Michaels. Scheduling TBA.

Million Dollar Baby writer Paul Haggis will write, direct, and produce The Black Donnellys, a drama revolving around four Irish brothers from New York's Hell's Kitchen. The brothers get into trouble when they fall into the seamy world of organized crime. It must be a period drama, because these days Hell's Kitchen is kinda yuppie. Scheduling TBA.

Treasure Hunters is a quest-oriented reality contest in which multiplayer teams travel the globe to solve puzzles and find hidden treasure. Scheduling TBA.

Get your funny bones checked-up when Scrubs enters it's fifth season Thursday, January 3, 9:30 p.m. This season will feature an appearance by Mandy Moore! Anyone is better than Tara Reid.

Fox had their share of flops early on, but they are almost impervious to so-so results because American Idol dominates the ratings come January.

Hits

With Bones, Fox unearthed evidence that audiences wanted another forensic crime drama. Prison Break is the "breakout" hit of the season, locking up solid ratings. The War At Home received no love from critics, but location is everything: Sandwiching it between The Simpsons and Family Guy helped it win the ratings battle.

Misses

Fox canned a lot of shows: Head Cases had the dubious distinction of being the season's first axe; a Killer Instinct wasn't enough to help the show survive; the Reunion has been put off indefinitely; Kitchen Confidential wasn't serving up what diners wanted; Arrested Development won't be returning to regale us with tales of familial dysfunction, bad magic tricks, and poorly built houses.

Replacements and Returnees

American Idol returns January 17 and 18 with more hilarious auditions and scathing comments from Simon, but hopefully no more sex scandals with Paula.

Season five of 24 will make its bow with a two-night premiere, Sunday, January 15 and Monday, January 16. Until then, check out our exclusive DVD clips.

Skating with Celebrities features a skating competition with Dave Coulier (Full House), Kristy Swanson (Buffy, the movie), Todd Bridges (Diff'rent Strokes), and others. After Fox ripped off ABC's Wife Swap with Trading Spouses and Supernanny with Nanny 911, this show begs the question: Does Fox know shame? Premieres Monday, January 17 at 9 p.m.

Set in Chicago, The Loop is the story of Sam, the first of his friends to get a real grown-up job at a stuffy corporation. Scheduling TBA.

UPN and The WB networks keep gaining an audience with teen-oriented shows. Maybe one day they'll become grown-up networks!

UPN had a hit with Everybody Hates Chris, but love wasn't in the air as they whiffed with Love, Inc. and Sex, Love, and Secrets. As long as they have Veronica Mars then it's all okay, right?

The WB flew high with Supernatural then crashed and burned with Just Legal. Also kaput on the former frog network: Living with Fran and Blue Collar TV. What will rednecks watch now?

Replacements and Returnees

UPN will Get This Party Started with a new reality series about party planners. If that isn't reason enough to watch, it also stars Kristin Cavalleri from MTV's Laguna Beach. It's heartwarming to see rich people get so many breaks. Premieres Tuesday, January 24 at 9 p.m.

South Beach, also on UPN, is a steamy nighttime soap set in Miami and starring Vanessa Williams. The two-hour premiere takes place Wednesday, January 11 at 8 p.m.

The WB has the much-anticipated return of Beauty and the Geek on Thursday, January 12 at 9 p.m. Richard and Lauren from season one crisscrossed America in search of the geekiest guys and ditziest girls to take part in season two of this wacky "social experiment" from producer Ashton Kutcher.

Remember, several big hits, including House, Medium, and Grey's Anatomy, were all last season's replacements, so don't discount these shows just yet. Any you're looking forward to? Any you'll miss?

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