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Networks spring midseason replacements on viewers
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The annual rites of spring: the cherry trees blooming in Washington, the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, and TV's midseason replacements.
Networks have rolled out nearly 20 new shows since the beginning of the year, but don't look for all of them to be permanent relief for the first-stringers, says TV Guide national writer Ted Hunter.
"The networks do this because they only have so many original episodes of our favorite shows," he says. "And those generally run out in March, and they also want to save those episodes for the May sweeps."
ABC's " Wonderland" is one of the higher-profile newcomers. "Chicago Hope's" Peter Berg serves as creator, producer, writer and director for the show, which takes place at a criminal psychiatric hospital in New York.
Already, the series has rankled mental health professionals who say it reinforces stereotypes of the mentally ill. It airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.
New York is also home to NBC's " Battery Park," a hybrid comedy-drama about cops from Gary David Goldberg, who brought "Family Ties" and "Spin City" to prime time.
"One of the things Gary David Goldberg is a master at doing is this character-driven writing, which is (great) for actors, because you are not doing the shticky comedy," says Justin Louis, who plays Detective Ben Nolin.
"Battery Park" airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET, on the heels of "Frasier."
NYPD's finest also headline " The Beat." The UPN series is the product of Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, the producers of "Homicide" and "Oz." Keeping with their penchant for gritty realism, "The Beat" is shot in film and video. It airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
"Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf offers an inside look at the capital of United States in " D.C." on the WB on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. It stars Gabriel Olds, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jacinda Barrett, Daniel Sunjata and Kristanna Lokenas as five Gen-X'ers trying to make it on Capitol Hill.
Romance is in the air on ABC's " Then Came You," which airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET. It stars Susan Floyd as a 33-year-old book editor smitten by a room-service waiter (Thomas Newton) who is 11 years her junior. The show has a lot of action, which is fine with Floyd.
"The great thing about having a lot of sex is you don't have many lines to memorize," she says.
The network is also talking up another comedy, " Talk To Me," starring Kyra Sedgewick as Janey Munro, a radio talk-show host with answers to everyone's relationship questions but her own. Beverly D'Angelo plays her conservative competitor, Dr. Debra.
"The presence of women is very strong," D'Angelo says. "It's also very blond, I've noticed. It's kind of like the blonde leading the blonde."
"Talk To Me" airs at 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesdays.
CBS gives viewers a glimpse of the undercover crime world on " Falcone." The show features Jason Gedrick as undercover FBI special agent Joseph D. Pistone -- the man the Volonte crime family knows as mob soldier Joe Falcone. It premiers with a special two-hour episode Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
The show has found a niche, Gedrick says. "The element of the FBI undercover agent is an element that no other show on the air has right now," he says.
A nationwide talent hunt for the next boy band unfolds on ABC's reality show, " Making The Band." The next episode airs Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Michael Chiklis, the one-time "Commish," now plays a stay-at-home dad in NBC's " Daddio." The show, which airs after "Friends" at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursdays, is from producers/writers Matt Berry and Ric Swartzlander ("Ellen" and "Grace Under Fire").
Fox is serving " Titus" as a pre-"Ally McBeal" appetizer. The show, which airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET, was created by title character Christopher Titus, a man who uses his dysfunctional upbringing to his advantage. And, as its strong early ratings have shown, some replacement series' may have the clout to make it to the networks' major leagues this fall.
Wednesday night's primetime lineup: Something for everyone
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