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Christine Lahti, center, stars in the new drama, "Jack & Bobby"
© The WB
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DRAMA

Prime time soaps and crime shows built around hit franchises are the two most prominent trends in dramas slotted in network schedules in the coming months. 

The young adult formula devised for "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place," and recalibrated with "Dawson's Creek," has been retuned successfully by "The O.C.," which added a twin focus on its older adult characters to score with older viewers while retaining its teen base. With both FOX and The WB making teen-centered series a priority, we'll continue to see variations on those pubescent themes.

Crime dramas meanwhile have extended their reach further into prime time as NBC's  "Law & Order" and CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" have introduced successful clones that extend their brands as relentlessly as Coke and Pepsi.  Building on the familiar playbook written by creator Dick Wolf, "L&O" this year adds the fourth iteration of its cops-and-lawyer format in "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," while producer Jerry Bruckheimer's stylized "CSI" extends its map of committed, high-tech forensics investigators from Las Vegas and Miami to Wolf's backyard in "CSI: New York."

Those police procedural powerhouses will face off Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) when Bruckheimer's new "CSI: New York" goes up against Wolf's original "Law & Order."

Doctors and nurses also remain nearly as attractive as cops and robbers when it comes to network pick-ups. And expect more trips down hospital corridors and new crises for workaholic medical professionals in upcoming series that seek to breath fresh life into medical dramas.

Lost
ABC, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET/PT

The team behind "Alias" turns to castaways for this dramatic adventure series about survivors of a plane wreck trying to survive on a Pacific island.  The cast includes a mix of newcomers and veterans including Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn and Dominic Monaghan.

Life as We Know It
ABC, Thursday 9 p.m. ET/PT

Three "hormonal" teenage boys come of age in a small screen adaptation of Melvin Burgess' novel.  With a writing team that includes veterans of both "Just Shoot Me" and the late, great "Freaks and Geeks," this might just prove a notch above other adolescent soaps.  Starring Sean Faris, Chris Lowell and Jon Foster.

Desperate Housewives
ABC, Sunday 9 p.m. ET/PT

In a plot device reminiscent of "American Beauty," a suicidal housewife observes the intrigues of her old neighborhood from the afterlife.  Given the scripts' provenance from writers associated with "General Hospital" and "Melrose Place," there should be suds (and dish) galore.  The cast includes Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Nicollette Sheridan.

The Practice: Fleet Street
ABC, Sunday 10 p.m. ET/PT

David E. Kelley's Boston-bred legal drama rose Phoenix-like from the ashes of its original premise and cast during this past season, thanks primarily to the sly performance of James Spader as the morally ambiguous Alan Shore, as charming a legal weasel as prime time has seen.  The past season effectively buried the show's original law firm, but now Spader and Rhona Mitra will hang their shingles at a more cutthroat Beantown shop noteworthy for hammy star lawyer Denny Craig, played tongue-through-cheek by hammy star William Shatner.  Beam us up.

Clubhouse
CBS, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET/PT

A coming-of-age drama that doesn't rely on the supernatural or the suburban.  Aaron Spelling and Mel Gibson are among the producers for this new entry, which follows a young teenager as he becomes batboy for New York major league baseball team. A smart cast features Jeremy Sumpter, Mare Winningham, Dean Cain and Christopher Lloyd.

CSI: New York
CBS, Wednesday 10 p.m. ET/PT

Jerry Bruckheimer's forensic detective franchise heads for the Big Apple with this third iteration, starring Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes.  In place of Vegas neon or sun-drenched South Beach vistas, the new series (previewed in the penultimate episode of this season's "CSI: Miami") will take on a grittier cast of blue and grey—not unlike its formidable time slot competitor, none other than Dick Wolf's original "Law & Order."

dr. vegas
CBS, Friday 10 p.m. ET/PT

Having departed "The West Wing" for an abortive run at legal drama, Rob Lowe tries the medical profession on, albeit with glitz instead of grit.  Lowe's a doctor who agrees to take a job as a physician working at a Las Vegas casino, where the general manager is Joe Pantoliano ("The Sopranos").  We can only imagine what the nurses wear.

House
FOX, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET/PT

"Homicide" creator Paul Attanasio takes a page from "CSI" in this medical series that steps outside the hospital to follow an elite medical team that specializes in diagnosing mysterious critical cases.  Hugh Laurie ("Stuart Little") stars as a "brilliant but unconventional" (another durable prime time combination) doctor.  The cast also features Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps.

Medical Investigation
NBC, Friday 10 p.m. ET/PT

Do we sense a trend?  Here's another scrubs-and-stethoscope series that combines medicine and mystery in the work of National Institute of Health doctors on the hunt for what-done-it instead of who-done-it.  Stars Neal McDonough ("Boomtown") and Kelli Williams ("The Practice").

LAX
NBC, Monday 10 p.m. ET/PT

Hospitals, squad rooms and even casinos becoming commonplace, why not set a prime time drama in an airport?  NBC explores the answer in this ensemble series set at Los Angeles' oft-filmed terminal.  In case baggage carousels and security checkpoints aren't tantalizing enough, the series adds formidable marquee clout with prime time veterans Heather Locklear, starring as the airfield chief, and Blair Underwood ("L.A. Law") as her frequent rival, the terminal manager.

Revelations
NBC, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET/PT

An eight-part miniseries with evangelical overtones, "Revelations" stars big screen veteran Bill Pullman ("Independence Day") as a scientist coping with haunting clues of an impending apocalypse.  Also starring Natasha McElhone ("Solaris").

Jack & Bobby
The WB, Sunday 9 p.m. ET/PT

Producer Greg Berlanti ("Dawson's Creek," "Everwood") and veteran TV director Thomas Schlamme team as producers for this teen-centered drama with an historical spin.  Two boys, raised by single mom Christine Lahti ( "Boston Hope").  One will be grow up to become a future "visionary" U. S. President. Matthew Long and Logan Lerman play the boys.

The Mountain
The WB, Thursday 8 p.m. ET/PT

Director McG ("Charlie's Angels") conjures this drama, which echoes "North Shore's" resort focus, this time in a Utah ski complex caught up in a struggle for ownership.  Barbara Hershey returns to the small screen as the mom.  Oliver Hudson, whose DNA includes both big screen strands (mom Goldie Hawn and sister Kate) and boob tube cred (his dad is one of the Hudson Brothers) is the dashing son.

Veronica Mars
UPN, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET/PT

Several series tropes were put through the blender for this freshman series, which weaves beachfront locales, upscale shenanigans and a teen heroine into the adventures of the title character.  She's a 17 year-old high school student in Neptune, an affluent beach town where she also moonlights as a private investigator, digging into the community's dirty little secrets. 

Kevin Hill
UPN, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET/PT

Taye Diggs is a "hotshot entertainment lawyer" living an enviable bachelor's life when a cousin's death transforms him into the adoptive dad for a six-month old daughter.  Adding to the complications are the gay nanny who takes care of the tyke and the attorney's decision to leave his high-pressured, workaholic firm to join what the producers call a "boutique" practice where all the partners are women.

January & Mid-Season Premieres

Grey's Anatomy
ABC, Monday 10 p.m. ET/PT

"The toughest surgical residency west of Harvard" is claimed for the would-be sawbones mentored at Grace Hospital, setting for this new medical drama.  Three young residents are the focal points for the action. Ellen Pompeo, Katharine Heigl and Sandra Oh head the large ensemble cast.

Blind Justice
ABC, Tuesday 10 p.m. ET/PT

Ron Eldard is a detective who emerges from a shoot-out as a hero—and blind.  With TV drama innovator Steven Bochco driving the concept, expect this January entry to make his disability a recurrent social issue, not just a plot gimmick.  Screen and TV journeyman Eldard has quietly racked up impressive work in both drama and comedy, earning this spotlight.

Eyes
ABC, Unscheduled

Tim Daly ("Wings") flexes his dramatic chops as Harlan Judd, yet another "unorthodox" crime buster who heads up Judd Risk Management, a 21st century private investigation firm with a team of detectives that follow his lead.  Rick Worthy and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon are also featured in the ensemble cast.

The Inside
FOX, Friday 8 p.m.

Do we detect another trend? Rachel Nichols is a teen queen who's really an undercover agent. Also starring Peter Facinelli.

Jonny Zero
FOX, Friday 9 p.m.

An ex-con struggles to reconcile his desire for the straight life with the old temptations that put him behind bars.  Created by "ER's" John Wells, the show stars Franky G and GQ.

Athens
FOX, Monday 8 p.m.

Josh Schwartz, the creator of "The O.C.," goes to college with this teen-skewed soap set in a New England university town.  Expect town and gown conflicts, as well as a likely clutch of sympathetic adult characters that will court the same multi-generational fan base as "O.C."

Law & Order: Trial by Jury
NBC, Unscheduled

Apart from the promise that "L&O" stalwart Lennie Brisco (Jerry Orbach) is likely appear in some episodes, there's no cast or concept information for this fourth series exploring Dick Wolf's durable cop-shop-to-courthouse framework.

Medium
NBC, Unscheduled

Patrica Arquette stars as the title character.  She sees dead people.

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