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What Non-Aardvarks are Pondering

By Curtis C. Chen

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January 5, 2001

Mid-Season Replacements

It's January! A new year, and-- depending on how you count-- possibly a new century and/or millennium. But more importantly, it's almost the middle of the television season, a time for the networks to re-examine the absolute crap they dumped onto their fall schedules, trash most of it, and find some different-colored crap to replace it for the rest of the year.

Not that all mid-season replacements are bad. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the underrated and widely unappreciated masterpiece, was a mid-season replacement. So was Malcolm in the Middle, probably the funniest thing on TV these days. And never forget the late, great Homicide: Life on the Street, still the best damn show on television.

But those are the exceptions. Most of the programs trotted out at mid-season are ones that were rejected as regular fall premieres, because the networks didn't think they were good enough. You'll have a chance to see what NBC thought was worse than Titans, what Fox thought was worse than The $treet, what ABC thought was worse than Madigan Men. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You can read elsewhere about what the networks actually have lined up as mid-season replacements this year. Me, I'm going to propose some concepts that the nets might want to try out, based on shows which have been successful in the past...

  • Malcolm X in the Middle: Spike Lee collaborates with Eddie Murphy to create this animated comedy showing us the lighter side of the future civil rights leader's wonder years.

  • Just Boot Me: a Dilbert-esque live-action sitcom about the wacky tech support crew at Pacific Bell's Internet call center.

  • King of the Mill: cultures clash when a big-city lawyer inherits his Amish uncle's estate and moves back to Pennsylvania.

  • James Cameron's and William Shatner's 4th Rock from the Sun: A near-future Mars miniseries, produced by James Cameron for Fox. Through the magic of special effects, William Shatner will play all the characters, including a genetically engineered teenage girl. (Okay, so this is a real show, but I made up the silly name and the Shatner thing.)

  • Seinfeld Babies: A animated prequel to the hit sitcom, a sort of Generation-X Rugrats, with the original actors supplying voices for their younger selves.

  • Homi¢ide: £ife on the $treet: a group of young stockbrokers, led by a Columbo-like talking dog, solves white-collar crimes. Featuring a different celebrity guest star in every episode.

I'm still hoping against hope that the pilot for Heat Vision and Jack (produced by Ben Stiller and starring Jack Black) will get picked up by someone, someday.


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