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Do the TV two-step

Keep track of your favorites with this rundown of the midseason shifts.

By CHASE SQUIRES
Published January 5, 2006


  Stand by for seasonal shuffling
Now is the winter of television viewers' discombobulation.

A nice, tidy chart would be a great way to help viewers navigate television's midseason shuffle. But it wouldn't be useful for long.

This month, we get new episodes of hit series Lost, Commander in Chief and My Name Is Earl, new seasons for returning shows American Idol and 24, and new time slots for much of the rest.

But special events will change everything next month: The Super Bowl airs Feb. 5 on ABC, NBC will carry the Winter Olympics starting Feb. 10, and various specials and awards shows will also interrupt schedules. Then more new programs are on the way in March.

On the cable networks, highlights ahead include new episodes of The Shield starting Tuesday and an appealing drama, Thief, in March, both on FX. And HBO promises the return of The Sopranos sometime in March.

So, there's no chart, but here's a rundown:

- ABC returns John Stamos' comedy, Jake in Progress (it had a brief, watchable run last spring), on Monday nights, pairing it with new comedy Emily's Reasons Why Not. Reality show The Bachelor (in Paris this time) returns on Monday nights. New sitcom Crumbs and summer hit Dancing With the Stars air Thursdays. New drama In Justice and a Dancing With the Stars results show air Fridays. Still no word on when ABC's strongest unaired comedy pilot, Sons & Daughters, will make an appearance; maybe March.

- CBS is temporarily replacing Out of Practice (returning in March) with equally weak sitcom Courting Alex on Monday nights and filling the Tuesday night Amazing Race gap with a dramedy, Love Monkey, that's short on both drama and comedy.

- NBC risks a couple of its rare successes by moving freshman hit My Name Is Earl and comedy-block partner The Office into the Thursday night fray along with not-bad newcomer Four Kings (in place of Joey, which returns, alas, in March), while bringing back Scrubs on Tuesdays in one last bid for viewers. The network also moves The Biggest Loser against ABC's Lost on Wednesdays. It's a shame NBC's best offering, The Book of Daniel, is relegated to 10 p.m. Fridays, where few will find it. The classy Daniel joins a sleepy Friday lineup with tired old Dateline and new Most Outrageous TV Moments clip show. Swell.

- Fox brings back 24 with a two-night, four-hour kickoff starting with a rare Sunday night presentation Jan. 15 then moving to its Monday night slot Jan. 16. Meanwhile, American Idol returns on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and some Thursdays - starting Jan. 17 - moving That '70s Show from Wednesdays to Thursdays (when the network will air back-to-back episodes). Bones moves to Wednesdays starting Jan. 25, but first Fox introduces Skating With Celebrities (with "celebrities" such as Deborah Gibson and Todd Bridges, perhaps Skating With Who? would be a better title) on Wednesday, Jan. 18, before moving it to Mondays. Prison Break returns in March.

- UPN debuts Miami-based drama South Beach Wednesday and delivers a Tuesday night reality show, Get This Party Started, in which celebrity hosts help folks throw a gala surprise bash for loved ones, Jan. 24.

- WB returns reality show Beauty and the Geek Jan. 12.

[Last modified January 4, 2006, 11:48:03]


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