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Optimism returns to prime time in fall TV season*

Sun., Sept. 19, 2010

(*- With a big thanks, of course, to the departed Mr. Leno)

Let’s all marvel at the bumper crop of new shows about cops and courtrooms.

Let’s welcome back favorite stars from the past like Tom Selleck, Jimmy Smits and Dana Delany.

Let’s cross our fingers that ambitious new series like “No Ordinary Family” and “The Event” will find their way.

Let’s get ready to laugh at the half-dozen new comedies (at least, some of them).

But let’s dedicate this fall broadcast season to Jay Leno. Sure, sure. It was last fall that Leno invaded prime time with his weeknight talk-comedy hour, only to scurry back to “The Tonight Show” in March.

By then, the guy who got caught in this squeeze play – “Tonight Show” temp Conan O’Brien – had not only bolted from NBC, but also from broadcast TV altogether.

As tuned-in viewers know, he’ll be launching a new late-night talk show on cable’s TBS in November.

But first comes the onslaught of freshman fall series on the broadcast networks (almost all of which will premiere this week).

Even with the gaping five-hour hole Leno left behind for NBC to fill, the new crop adds up to just 22 series – only one more than debuted last fall.

NBC, which finished the 2009-’10 season ranked a dismal fourth, is bouncing back invigorated and maybe even contrite as it reinstates the 10 p.m. hour with scripted shows.

And it can rest secure in the knowledge that, no matter how its fall schedule may falter, nothing could match last year’s “Jay Leno Show” for stinking up the joint.

Tags: TV, TV series

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