SO WHAT DO YOU say about a network that cancels "thirtysomething" and keeps "Baby Talk" alive? Maybe you say that its executives understand what H.L. Mencken meant when he said you'd never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
That network would be ABC, which let America know that next Tuesday's episode will be the last for "thirtysomething" when it announced its new fall schedule yesterday. ABC has eight new shows on tap and a lot of shuffling of its old deck.
Sunday and Monday stay as they are, but on Tuesday, "Full House" will move in to lead off the night, followed at 8:30 by the newcomer "Home Improvement," in which comedian Tim Allen plays a macho-man host of a home fix-it show who's a henpecked father of three at his real house. Matt Williams, original producer of "Roseanne," is behind this one.
From 9 to 10 p.m., "Roseanne" and "Coach" return, then "Homefront" moves into the "thirtysomething" slot. Set in 1945 and featuring an ensemble cast, this hour examines a changing America in the years following World War II. "Dallas" creator and Baltimore native David Jacobs is executive producer.
On Wednesday, "Dinosaurs" will now kick off the night, followe by "The Wonder Years." "Doogie Howser, M.D." stays at 9 o'clock with "Anything But Love" winning the lottery to follow it. Two new comedies with impressive producers will fill the 10 to 11 hour. "Grownups" is from Jim Brooks, who's given us "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Taxi," "The Simpsons" as well as the films "Broadcast News" and "Terms of Endearment." This half hour stars Marsha Mason as an eldest sister who finds her two younger siblings always leaning on her strength.
That's followed at 10:30 by another sisters comedy, "Good and Evil," which sounds like the closest thing to her original ground-breaker "Soap" that Susan Harris has come up with. Teri Garr and Margaret Whitton will star as a good sister/bad sister team who are at the center of a crazed extended family.
On Thursday, ABC canceled James Earl Jones' "Gabriel's Fire," but kept Jones' ex-con character alive in "Bird and Katt," teaming him with Richard Crenna to make yet another pair of prime-time private investigators. That goes at 8 o'clock. The 9 to 10 o'clock hour will be a couple of reality-based half hour cop shows, the new "FBI: The Untold Stories," featuring re-enacted stories from the files of the federal agency, followed by "American Detective." "Prime Time Live" stays on the schedule at 10 p.m.
Friday has "Family Matters" moving to the lead-off spot where it will deliver its family audience to another Miller/Boyett comedy, "Step by Step," this one about a combined (six kids) family headed by Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somer. "Perfect Strangers," "Baby Talk" and "20/20" complete the evening.
Saturday now gets the aging comedies "Who's the Boss?" and " "Growing Pains" in its first hour with "The Young Riders" moving to 9 p.m. At 10 o'clock is "The Commish," a Stephen Cannell hour about a tough but lovable police commissioner starring Michael Chiklis.
Other cancellations include "Father Dowling Mysteries," "Married People" and "Going Places." Among the mid-season orders are two shows from Stephen Bochco, "Civil Wars" with Mariel Hemingway and Peter Onorati as a couple of divorce lawyers, and "Capital Critters," the animated comedy about a family of mice who live in the White House. George Lucas was also kept on hold as his "Young Indiana Jones," an hour series about the formative years of you-know-who, also got a mid-season pickup.