• Image about ABC

  • Image about ABC

We answer that question with our fall 2007 television preview.

Network television isn't what it used to be: Shows are getting shorter, viewership is dwindling, and if a new series does not find its wings within a couple of episodes, it gets shot down, no matter how great the hype. (Remember Day Break?) One wonders if there is hope for the Big Four this fall, especially as last season produced only one genuine breakthrough hit, NBC's Heroes. This year, the networks are trying to play off of the success of the past couple of seasons - introducing everything from quirky comedies and prime-time soaps to action-packed sci-fi tales - and there are a couple of breakout hopefuls. Here's the 411 on this fall's fiction shows.

Prime-time soaps have been making a comeback ever since Desperate Housewives soared to ratings bliss. Can anyone else capture that lightning in a bottle?

The most likely contender is Cane (CBS), in which a Cuban-American family deals with the realities of running its Miami-based sugar cane and rum businesses. With a high-powered cast that includes Jimmy Smits, Rita Moreno, Hector Elizondo, and Nestor Carbonell, and with plenty of infighting, illicit romance, and shocking revelations, this show could become the Latin American Dallas.

Rich people and their foibles do make for compelling soap material - at least the creators of Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) hope so. Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) plays a lawyer who inherits his late father's task of babysitting the Darlings of New York, a quirky and rich family, while trying to solve Dad's murder. What gives this show potential is the insanity of the Darling clan - family members include a doting patriarch (Donald Sutherland) and matriarch (Jill Clayburgh), an aspiring politician with skeletons in his closet, a substance-addled son, and a foul-mouthed reverend, among others.

It's got to be tough to be the CEO of a company and have to cope with extramarital affairs, dysfunctional wives, and corporate politics. Hey, life could be worse. While Big Shots (ABC) wants us to empathize with its beleaguered wannabe alpha males ("Men, we're the new women"), some of them (Dylan McDermott included) are too callous for us to care. I liked this show a lot better when it was called Desperate Housewives.

Grey's Anatomy fans may be delighted that Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh) is getting her own Private Practice (ABC). The Grey's connection alone should ensure that this program gets a chance to show the doctor in a new environment (the quirky Oceanside Wellness Group in Santa Monica) and in a new relationship. Walsh also has Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs, and Tim Daly by her side.