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Fall TV Preview

Reality check: Happy is good

It's time to pare the mean and bring out the feel-good TV.

Published September 11, 2005

[NBC photo]
Pop singer Amy Grant is the host of the new NBC reality series Three Wishes.
Fall TV Preview
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Speculative drama: Sci-fi.
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Programs marked with an "R" are returning series; new series are marked with an "N."
Reality check: Happy is good
It's time to pare the mean and bring out the feel-good TV.
Where would we be without cable?
Some of the most intriguing offerings aren't on broadcast TV.

A look at:

If a little reality television was a good thing, lots of it must be better.

Maybe not.

The reality wave may have crested. The broadcast networks appear to have recognized that enough is enough.

There continues to be a barrage of celebrity-based shows, but more and more they are relegated to cable channels such as TLC, E!, VH1, and MTV, instead of the major networks.

The big outlets seem content with feel-good reality. Uplifting veterans Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC) and The Biggest Loser (NBC) are back. It's-just-a-game reality shows Survivor and Amazing Race (both CBS) are back.

Song and dance shows American Idol (Fox) and Dancing With the Stars (ABC) will be back in January.

The only new reality programing on the broadcast networks' fall horizon is Christian pop star Amy Grant in Three Wishes on NBC. Even Fox, former home of some of reality's weirdest, meanest, dumbest fare has settled down. It's looking ahead to its Idol ratings bonanza, but entertainment chief Peter Liguori is careful to note that a network must have more than reality fare to thrive.

Andrew Glassman, executive producer of Three Wishes, where Grant and company travel to a town each week and bring joy to downtrodden townsfolk, said it was only natural America would look for feel-good instead of gross-out once the novelty of reality shows wore off.

"If you look at the world we live in, you look at the front page of the newspaper today, it's full of alerts and warnings and incidents and emergencies," he told a group of TV critics in July. "When I was in local news, at the end of the 11 o'clock news, my grandmother would call me up. First, she would criticize my outfit I was wearing, and the next thing she'd do is say, "Why isn't there anything good on?'

"She was right," Glassman said. "So we're going to put something really good and positive on, and I think people are going to respond to that . . . This area is going to be one that outlives all of those because everybody loves a story with a happy ending."

[Last modified September 8, 2005, 12:37:05]

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