As our favourite shows return, ANDREA JONES previews what's in store.
3rd Rock From The Sun - Now that Dr Solomon (John Lithgow) and Dr Albright
(Jane Curtain) have succumbed to their passion for each other, things get really
interesting. Dr Solomon gets some valuable lessons in earthly love and the
peculiarly earthly notions of commitment and trust. But, gosh, if love require
honesty, does this mean he has to tell her he's an alien? Returns: Tonight, 8pm
On: Channel 7.
The Nanny - Come now, did you really think Fran (Fran Drescher) and Maxwell
(Charles Shaugnessy) were going to get together? Last year's finale saw them
locked in a love pledge as the plane they were in plummeted to the ground.
Suffice to say, they're not wiped out in a plane crash or we wouldn't have a
show. As for getting together, why spoil a good thing? The crafty scriptwriters
have Maxwell backtracking as soon as he safely hits the ground, excusing his
confessions of love by saying, with death staring him in the face, a man would
say anything. And so Fran and Maxwell live on to tease each other for another
year. Returns: Next Sunday, 6.30pm On: Channel 10.
The Simpsons - The X-Files stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny appear
as guest voices this series and life goes on as abnormally as usual for Homer
and his dysfunctional brood. At one point they up sticks and leave Springfield
for the sunny meadows of a nuclear power plant town where Homer is his boss's
favourite worker. This can't last - and it doesn't. Mr Burns discovers he has a
long-lost illegitimate son. And Homer becomes a professional boxer when it's
discovered he was born with a unique genetic condition that protects his brain
from injury. Doh! Returns: Next Sunday, 7pm On: Channel 10.
Home Improvement - It's not just handling tools that Tim (Tim Allen) has
trouble with this season. He's got two hormonal boys who are going through all
the adolescent traumas of dating. And a temporary shadow is cast over Tim and
Jill's (Patricia Richardson) marriage when, as part of her studies, she drags
Tim along to therapy. There, he admits to the counsellor there are some aspects
of his marriage he's not happy with. But it's not enough to dampen this upbeat
show. Returns: Next Sunday, 7.30pm On: Channel 7.
Seinfeld - Back in a brand-new Sunday night timeslot. We last saw George
(Jason Alexander) looking pretty smug about the fact that his fiancee Susan
(Heidi Swedberg) had died and he didn't have to go through with the wedding.
That smile is quickly wiped off his face when he discovers that Susan was worth
a vast fortune and he would have inherited it if he'd married her. Meanwhile,
Jerry, who got engaged in the final episode last year, discovers that being with
someone who's exactly like you isn't all he thought it would be. Elaine (Julia
Louis-Dreyfuss) becomes the boss of the giant mail order catalogue firm she's
been working for - and boy, does she love it! Returns: Next Sunday, 8pm On:
Heartbreak High - Several romances at Heartbreak High come to a torrid climax
over the HSC. Kat (Ada Nicodemou) and Charlie (Sebastian Goldstein) become
secretly engaged and try to hide it from their friends and families, while Matt
(Vince Poletto) and Stassy (Tara Jakszewicz) receive shock HSC results which
cause them to reappraise their future in a most surprising way. Later this month
a new class of Hartley High seniors will arrive. Diane Craig also departs and
Peter Sumner arrives as the new head. Returns: Tomorrow, 6pm On: ABC.
Neighbours - Ruth (Alisa Piper) finds a new love and someone comes between
Libby (Marnie Rhys-Wilmore) and Darren (Todd MacDonald). Meanwhile, a
teacher-student crush causes consternation in Ramsay St. At long long last
Harold (Ian Smith) and Lou (Tom Oliver) call a truce after years of feuding. And
get set for a new-look Billy (Jesse Spencer) as he rebels against his "nice
boy" image. Now screening: Monday - Friday, 6.30pm On: Channel 10.
Home And Away - In the first few months we see the birth of Irene's (Lynne
McGranger) baby and Travis (Nic Testoni) and Kelly (Katrina Hobbs) make a big
decision about their relationship. Shannon (Isla Fisher) and Selina (Tempany
Deckert) begin their new lives outside the schoolyard as they head to
university. There are some ups and downs in the Marilyn (Emily Symons) and
Donald Fisher (Norman Coburn) household, including the arrival of Donald's
mother (former A Country Practice star Lorrae Desmond). A new doctor (former
Neighbours star Richard Grieves) starts work at the hospital and a tragic
accident plunges Summer Bay into mourning. Now screening: Monday-Friday, 7pm On:
Frontline - In its absence from our screens last year, the mythical current
affairs show has soared to number one in the ratings and Mike Moore (Rob Sitch)
is the most popular host on television. The show's glossy new set reflects the
trappings of its newfound success. There will be minor cast changes, unconfirmed
at press time, but Mike Moore (Rob Sitch), Brooke Vandenberg (Jane Kennedy),
Martin Di Stasio (Tiriel Mora) and Emma Ward (Alison Whyte) all return to spoof
the world of current affairs. Returns: February 24, 8pm On: ABC.
Blue Heelers - Will PJ (Martin Sacks) and Maggie (Lisa McCune) finally get
together? Will Tom (John Wood) survive his heart attack? At the close of Blue
Heelers last year we saw Maggie and PJ almost get together. But before they have
a chance this year, Maggie is hospitalised by a deadly disease that has already
claimed two lives in Mount Thomas. PJ maintains a bedside vigil. Meanwhile,
Dash (Tasma Walton) and Adam (Damian Walshe-Howling) seem to be getting awfully
chummy - will they beat PJ and Maggie to becoming Mount Thomas' hottest romance
of 97? Returns: February 10 at 8.30pm, then Tuesday nights, 8.30pm On: Channel
Water Rats - The shock of last year's gunning down of crooked cop "Knocker"
(Peter Bensley) by his fiancee Goldie (Catherine McClements) continues to
reverberate through the Water Police. There's a suspicion the incident will
affect Goldie's ability to function in a crisis, but Goldie insists, perhaps too
much, that she is fine. Meanwhile, there's a new recruit to the crew, Constable
Taylor Johnson (Raelee Hill). And Goldie and Frank find romance this year - but
is it with each other? Returns: February 10, 8.30pm On: Channel 9.
90210 - Now these kids are all grown up, they're facing grown up problems.
One of the big stories for 97 is Kelly's (Jennie Garth) fear she may have
contracted AIDS. Valerie (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) finds herself involved with a
married man and their steamy affair turns into a nasty web of blackmail. David's
(Brian Austin Green) career as a music video producer flops and he turns to the
bottle. And Kelly sets her eyes back on Brandon (Jason Priestley) and campaigns
to regain his affections. Now screening: 7.30pm On: Channel 10.
Melrose Place - A new couple moves into Melrose Place this year (Lisa Rinna
and Rob Estes, Josie Bissett's real-life husband) and they're set to make
trouble as they set their lustful eyes not on each other, but on their
neighbours. Alison and Jake are the steamiest item on the show despite both of
them being tempted by former lovers. And Amanda's marriage to Peter is strained,
perhaps to breaking point, by his trial for the murder of Bobby Parezi. Now
screening: 8.30pm On: Channel 10.
NYPD Blue - The new series starts out running with Sylvia (Sharon Lawrence)
giving birth to baby Theo. But Andy's (Dennis Franz) joy at becoming a new dad
is rapidly eclipsed by tragedy when, in the second episode, he attends a
robbery-homicide and discovers the victim is his own son, Andy Jr. His despair
leads him over the edge and he finds himself battling the bottle and battling to
save his marriage. Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) and Diane (Kim Delaney) continue
to have troubles with Diane's fear of commitment. A rough time is also in store
for Detective James Martinez (Nick Turturro), who uncovers a dangerous web of
corrupt cops. And Donna, the office's blonde bombshell secretary, announces that
she is quitting so she can move to Los Angeles. Returns: February 13, 9.30pm
On: Channel 10.
Mad About You - Jamie (Helen Hunt) is pregnant and the dilemmas around having
a baby provide plenty of fuel for comedy over the coming series. Cynics have
pointed out that if her pregnancy really went on for as long as it does on the
show, she would be gestating for 12 months. Will it be a boy or a girl? Now,
that would be spoiling it! Returns: February 12, 7.30pm On: Channel 10.
The X-Files - The Smoking Man, who loomed large in last year's cliffhanger
ending, figures prominently in this series - and we learn a little about who he
really is. Scully (Gillian Anderson) has a frightening experience when she
starts remembering past lives. Mulder (David Duchovny) is preoccupied with this
life and there's a hint of romance on the horizon. Returns: This Wednesday,
8.30pm On: Channel 10.
Chicago Hope - This year Chicago Hope shifts focus slightly from personal
drama towards action in the hospital. Episode two will introduce surgeon Jack
McNeil (Mark Harmon). Dr Kate Austin (Christine Lahti) was last seen kidnapping
her daughter after she lost custody to ex-husband Tommy (Ron Silver). She
returns to Chicago and the battle with Tommy grows even more bitter. Dr Billy
Kronk, last seen healing in Africa, returns to the hospital and his girlfriend
Diane (Jayne Brook) is torn about following. Returns: February 12, 8.30pm On:
Murder One - As most fans will be aware, Teddy Hoffman (Daniel Benzali) has
been dumped from the new series. As it opens we're told Teddy has gone overseas
attempting to mend his marriage. The junior members of the firm remain and into
Teddy's place storms brash, hotshot replacement Jimmy Wyler (Anthony LaPaglia).
For those who found following one storyline throughout the series hard going,
this year there will be three consecutive murder trials. In Wyler's first case,
he finds himself once again up against the tenacious prosecuting attorney Miriam
Grasso (Barbara Bosson) as he defends a schoolteacher who is accused of
assassinating not only the Governor of California, but also his mistress.
Returns: February 19, 9.30pm On: Channel 7.
ER - Jeannie Boulet (Gloria Rubens) discovered late last year she'd
contracted HIV. The good news is that she hasn't passed it on to her lover, Dr
Benton (Eriq La Salle). John Carter (Noah Wyle) and Dr Lewis (Sherry
Stringfield) share an undeniable chemistry. Will they act on it? Their time
together is short-lived when Dr Lewis leaves the show to live in Phoenix and be
near her niece. Meanwhile, spikey Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) becomes a permanent
cast member and gets promoted to attending physician on a level with Mark
Greene (Anthony Edwards). The two clash repeatedly. Now screening: 9.30pm On:
Sliders - Given that lead actor Jerry O'Connell co-stars with Tom Cruise in
the hit movie Jerry McGuire, perhaps more young fans will be drawn to this SF
adventure series about a ragtag bunch stranded in parallel dimensions. This year
Quinn Mallory (O'Connell) leads the gang as they "slide" to a world where men
are bound to a carry a foetus for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and another
world where the justice system is ruled by private enterprise. Corey Feldman
stars in an episode where the world is plagued by tornadoes. Returns: This
Friday, 7.30pm On: Channel 10.
Ellen - Ellen's girlfriend Paige gets engaged and there are plenty of
opportunities for Ellen to drop more veiled hints about her sexuality. The
producers, fearing disaster if Ellen comes out on the show, keep viewers
guessing. Meanwhile, Ellen reassesses her priorities after her parents die. She
decides to sell the bookshop and buy a house. But she continues to work at the
bookshop with its new owner, the irascible Ed. Returns: This Saturday, 8pm On:
PEOPLE TO WATCH
Eric Bana - Assumes the daunting role of host/interviewer/comedian in his new
Rebecca Gibney - Stars in two more Halifax f.p. telemovies plus Kangaroo
Palace, a new miniseries about two girls struggling to make it in the UK.
Gary Sweet - Action man rides again as a chopper pilot in Big Sky.
Garry McDonald - Plays funnyman hosting celebrity game show Ripsnorters and
straightman in the legal drama Fallen Angels.
Peter Luck - As the new host of Today Tonight, he's battling to turn the
fortunes of the current affairs show.
Liz Hayes - 60 Minutes' newest recruit will hopefully inject much-needed new
energy into this show.