By ED BARK
Fox commendably has picked up Back to You for a full season despite its so far lackluster ratings.
The Kelsey Grammer-Patricia Heaton sitcom ranked 58th in the latest weekly Nielsens, drawing 7.1 million viewers to rank just a hair above ABC's new Tuesday night duo of Cavemen and Carpoolers.
Back to You, set in a fictional Pittsburgh TV newsroom, airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (all times are central).
***ABC is switching its top and bottom Friday night attractions. 20/20 will return to 9 p.m. after leading off the night this fall. And the second year series Men In Trees downshifts from 9 to 7 p.m. Changes are effective Nov. 2nd.
***The Alphabet Network also plans to bring back two of last spring's freshmen for second seasons. October Road returns on Nov. 22nd at 9:02 p.m. central, getting the Big Shots spot before moving to Mondays at 9 p.m. when The Bachelor ends its latest run.
Notes From the Underbelly also will be on Mondays, paired with the first-year sitcom Samantha Who? Its return date is Nov. 26th (8:30 p.m.)
By ED BARK
ABC's Pushing Daisies joins a so far small group of new series getting full-season orders from their networks. But CBS' Viva Laughlin already is pushing up daisies after just two episodes.
Laughlin, a poorly executed musical murder mystery, got axed after luring just 6.4 million viewers nationally Sunday night. The previous Thursday's sneak preview drew a disappointing 8.4 million viewers following CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (21.2 million).
That makes Laughlin the new season's first scripted cancelation. Fox earlier stopped the music on Nashville, a reality series chronicling the exploits of young, sex-capading country twangers. Actually that one seemed pretty much scripted, too.
Daisies so far ranks 24th among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's Private Practice, which follows it on Wednesday nights, also has a full-season pickup and a far higher perch (No. 9) in the 18-to-49 demo.
CBS' Big Bang Theory, The CW's Gossip Girl and Fox's Kitchen Nightmares are the other newcomers getting extended life spans from their networks.
Laughlin's Sunday, 7 p.m. (central) replacement, starting on Nov. 4th, is the 12th edition of The Amazing Race. A CSI: Crime Scene Investigation repeat fills in this Sunday.
***Fox's Game 1 of the Boston Red Sox-Colorado Rockies World Series swings into view Wednesday night after encouraging ratings for Sunday's Game 7 of the Red Sox-Cleveland Indians matchup. It drew a robust 19.2 million viewers to rank third for the week behind only CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and ABC's Dancing with the Stars performance show.
Better yet for Fox, the Red Sox-Indians beat NBC's usually potent Sunday Night Football in a head-to-head matchup. The down-to-the-wire game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers finished 16th for the week with 13.1 million viewers.
***NBC will go gang green from Nov. 4-10 with environmentally conscious episodes in both prime-time and late night. Some of this is a stretch, particularly on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. The carrot-topped host will welcome guests "whose names incorporate the word green," says NBC.
On the Tonight Show, host Jay Leno will drive a variety of "environmentally sound vehicles" to his Burbank Studios workplace. And Al Gore will guest on Nov. 8th.
Here's some of what NBC is doing in prime-time. And no, we're not making these up.
Chuck (Nov. 5) -- The reluctant secret agent returns to Stanford University, where he earlier was expelled. He's just in time for the annual "Green Festival."
Heroes (Nov. 5) -- The character West "helps with some energy-saving fixes around the house."
Bionic Woman (Nov. 7) -- Jaime Sommers attends an international environmental conference in Paris, where she also flirts with a guest character named Tom.
30 Rock (Nov. 8) -- Al Gore drops in here, too, joining a GE-wide "green initiative" that includes creating a green mascot for NBC.
ER (Nov. 8) -- Morris buys an energy-efficient car while County General Hospital likewise strives to conserve energy during rolling brownouts.
Friday Night Lights (Nov. 9) -- A guest character named Shelley drops in to promote "the need to live a green lifestyle, even in a less-than-progressive town like Dillon, Texas."
Las Vegas (Nov. 9) -- The nation's leading energy burner dims a few bulbs while hosting an "environmentally friendly conference" at the Montecito casino.
By ED BARK
CBS will prime the cash pump on Million Dollar Password, a "modernized version" of the old chestnut.
Hosting, of course, is Regis Philbin. Or as CBS prefers to call him, "the ever enthusiastic and beloved Regis Philbin."
The network has ordered six prime-time episodes for midseason. Original host Allen Ludden, whose wife was Betty White, died in 1981.
***A pair of still obscure cable networks, little known G4 and lesser known MOJO, have landed the rerun rights to NBC's hottest series, Heroes.
And neither will be taking long to activate their new acquisition.
G4 will have an all-day marathon of first season Heroes episodes on Oct. 27-28. Then comes a "mini-marathon" of this season's first six episodes on Nov. 3. After that, G4 will have weekly Saturday night reprises of each week's current Heroes episode.
MOJO, which airs all of its programming in high-definition, begins its Heroes marriage on Nov. 1 with the first six episodes of the ongoing Season 2. The network then will air the current week's episode on both Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The way this is going, unclebarky.com soon will realize its longtime dream of repurposing episodes of Camp Runamuck, the fabled 1965 NBC comedy series starring Dave Ketchum as Senior Counselor Spiffy and Alice Nunn as Mahala May Gruenecker. What a traffic-spiker that's gonna be.
By ED BARK
Anybody out there been trying to picture how the young Gus McRae and Woodrow Call will look in CBS' upcoming Commanche Moon prequel to Lonesome Dove?
Maybe not. But the original 1989 miniseries, starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Gus and Woodrow, remains by far the greatest made-for-TV western ever. It's also my all-time favorite TV program, period. So here are the first official photos from CBS, with Steve Zahn (left) as Gus and Karl Urban as Woodrow.
Weighing in at six hours, Commanche Moon is scheduled to premiere on Dec. 30 and continue on Jan. 1 and 2. And wow, I just opened the mail and CBS already has sent out the review DVDs.
By ED BARK
***NBC Universal's still struggling broadcast arm -- NBC -- could use a little prime-time oxygen. In the meantime, the corporation has expanded its cable holdings by acquiring Oxygen for a tidy $925 mil.
Launched in February 2000 as an arch competitor of Lifetime, the "female-targeted" network is now available in 74 million homes. Some of them even watch it.
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker says in a statement that Oxygen has "become the crown jewel of independent networks. It's a terrific property with a clear mission, strong brand and desirable audience."
Even better, says Zucker, the acquisition "increases our foothold in the advertiser-coveted young, upscale, female demographic."
Oxygen CEO Geraldine Laybourne, who co-founded the network with Oprah Winfrey among others, says the new deal is "the best way for Oxygen to grow. In seven years, we built a spectacular brand for women."
The network isn't exactly an arsenal of hits. But it's allegedly "rewriting the rule book for women's television" with series such as Tori & Dean: Inn Love, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and The Bad Girls Club.
NBC Universal's other cable holdings are USA, Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, CNBC and MSNBC.
***Here's some other exciting NBC Universal news. It's tabbed burned out wrestler Hulk Hogan to host its new version of American Gladiators, slated to premiere sometime later this season on the NBC broadcast network.
By ED BARK
***CBS finally has airdates for Commanche Moon. They ain't particularly purdy. The network has chosen Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 and 2 for the six-hour miniseries, which will have to shoot it out against high-profile college football games.
Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn) and Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) respectively are the new Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call. Rachel Griffiths, Val Kilmer and Wes Studi also are in the cast.
The original and now legendary Lonesome Dove miniseries debuted in 1989 on CBS, with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones playing Gus and Woodrow alongside the likes of Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Chris Cooper and Steve Buscemi.
Return to Lonesome Dove, with Jon Voight stepping in for Jones, came along in 1993. Gus was dead for that one, but returned three years later in the person of David Arquette in the Dove prequel Dead Man's Walk. Jonny Lee Miller played Woodrow.
A 1995 miniseries, Streets of Laredo, starred James Garner as Woodrow, with Gus again out of the picture. Lonesome Dove: The Series, which premiered in syndication in 1994, focused on Woodrow's offspring, Newt (Scott Bairstow).
***MyNetworkTV unfurls two new series Monday night (Oct. 1). Celebrity Expose (7 p.m. central) will expose celebrities. The first two are the already immensely tiresome Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears.
Following at 8 p.m. is Control Room Presents, highlighting concert performances from around the globe. Maroon 5 is up first.
*** Comedy Central has picked up the cartoon series Lil' Bush for a second season of 10 episodes due next spring. The network also will bring back The Mind of Mencia for a fourth season.
***ABC's The View again is offering limited edition "pink ribbon" breast cancer awareness mugs for $24.95, with all net proceeds going to Dallas-based Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For ordering information, go here.