NBC reclaims its Thursday night crown


It's taken a long, long time, but NBC has finally done it again: created a Thursday night of prime time that's a delight to watch wall-to-wall. The final piece of the puzzle: "Hope & Gloria," a clever new series that snuggles comfortably between "Mad About You" and "Seinfeld." Cap those off with "Friends" and "E.R.," and you've got a lineup reminiscent of NBC's shining 1982-1983 Thursday schedule, "The Best Night of Television on Television": "Fame," "Cheers," "Taxi" and "Hill Street Blues."

* "Mad About You" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Channel 11) -- You've heard the phrase, "You are what you eat"? This week's new "Mad

About You" explores a different maxim: "You are what is in your purse." And when Jamie and Lisa (Helen Hunt, Anne Ramsay) accidentally switch purses, both lifestyles are temporarily, but drastically, affected. NBC.

* "Hope & Gloria" (8:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 11) -- Writer-producers Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, two of the many talented "Cheers" alumni, come out swinging, and very assured, in this nice new sitcom about two dissimilar neighbors: brash and abrasive hairdresser Gloria (Jessica Lundy) and meek and mild Hope (Cynthia Stevenson), the associate producer at a local Pittsburgh TV show. Alan Thicke plays the star of that fictional show, Dennis Dupree, in a role that instantly outshines everything he was allowed to do on "Growing Pains." NBC.

* "Seinfeld" (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Channel 11) -- Three words: "The Parking Space." A classic repeat from 1992. NBC.

* "The Commish" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 2) -- For Nancy Allen, separating herself from Brian de Palma has ended up largely taking her out of the spotlight. Tonight, though, she surfaces as the primary guest star on this week's episode of "The Commish." ABC.

* "Friends" (9:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- Ross (David Schwimmer) uses his pet monkey as an accomplice in his latest plan to get noticed by Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). It's an unusual ,, move -- but that's in keeping with the couple's unusual gibbon-take relationship. NBC.

* "E.R." (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- A complicated pregnancy becomes even more complicated on tonight's "E.R.," a woman goes into labor prematurely with lots of medical problems -- but without anyone available in Ob-Gyn to help out. NBC.

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