We watch... so you don't have to.

UPN: Other People's Leavings, Part 2

In the minds of UPN programming directors, the rest of television is nothing but a big testing area. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a success on another network, so naturally it "graduated" to UPN. Never mind that everyone else thinks UPN is barely even a network, and that Buffy and Roswell (the other refugee from the WB) have gone from a junior college at best to one of those local schools that sends you free brochures about their "life skills" classes. The shows can still be great students, if you're still following this analogy, but it's not like they're in a setting that engenders optimism about their futures.

For the sake of completeness, I should add that Roswell is about some alien kids growing up in Roswell, New Mexico. And Buffy is about some girl that manages to squeeze in some actual vampire-slaying in between her other plot-related duties. You've probably heard about it. It's going to be on in the same time slot it used to be, only now it'll be on UPN, not the WB. If you tune in on Tuesday nights and see a quirky mom and her quirky daughter having family-friendly adventures in a little town, you've forgotten to change the channel and are watching Gilmore Girls on the WB.

The friendly people at UPN assure the viewing public that there's no reason for Buffy fans to be alarmed about the show's new home. Just because there might not be a UPN channel in your vicinity is no cause for panic. Everything will be fine. Calm down. Have some dip.

Meanwhile, in the non-Tuesday part of its lineup, UPN is going through some changes. Again, it's nothing to worry about; it's all part of growing up.

Long-time UPN standby Star Trek: Voyager is going away. But since UPN wouldn't be UPN without a Star Trek show, they're bringing in Enterprise, which will be set sometime before the original series. In fact, it will be "early in the 22nd century," which is only a hundred years from now, so the only way they'll be able to do the inevitable crossovers with other Star Treks is if they drag in labored and unconvincing time-travel plots. Not that Star Trek would ever do that. The captain this time around is to be played by Scott "Quantum Leap" Bakula, which probably means he'll get double helpings on the sci-fi convention circuit.

Enterprise will be followed on Wednesdays by Special Unit 2, which is already on the air, not that anyone has noticed. It's either a dark, gritty X-Files-style drama or a wacky Lone Gunmen-style comedy. Either way, it's about Chicago cops hunting down trolls, gnomes, and sea serpents. It ain't great.

On Thursdays, UPN is still riding the WWF gravy train, as Smackdown! continues to do what it always does. Assuming, that is, that the XFL train wreck doesn't drag down the rest of Vince McMahon's empire.

Shoring up its Monday Night African-American block, UPN adds One on One, starring "Love and Basketball's" Kyla Pratt and Flex Alexander as Kyla Washington and Mark "Flex" Washington. It's often a bad sign when all the main characters have the same unlikely first names as the actors that portray them, but if you're in the market for a 14-year-old girl (Kyla) being raised by her sportscaster father (that would be Flex), here you are. It follows The Hughleys and prefaces The Parkers and Girlfriends.

Once one of UPN's programs falters (and the betting here is on Special Unit 2, which started to run out of steam about two-thirds of the way through the pilot), Stephen King's The Dead Zone is ready to step up. Anthony Michael Hall (yes, that Anthony Michael Hall) will star as a man who comes out of a coma with the ability to see into people's lives.

In the "Dead Zone" movie, Hall's part was played by Christopher Walken. This represents one of the most severe demotions a character has received since Humphrey Bogart's role in "Casablanca" was played on television by David Soul. You know... Hutch? From Starsky and Hutch?

There will also be specials, including the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards (note how I refrain from joking about all the shootings that happened at the last one); Rebuild Your Life, a reality show where entire families are transplanted to allegedly exotic locales (note how I don't suggest that people on reality shows should all be taken out to exotic locales and left there); and an American version of Iron Chef starring William Shatner (note how I refrain from making any of the many, many jokes available here).

I'd like to point out that the executive producer of the William Shatner Iron Chef thing is also responsible for "And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story" and "Lucy and Desi: Before the Laughter". And he seems to be proud of it, too.

So that's it for UPN, the network with the new identity! And it doesn't matter that that identity is "African American Monday, WB Refugee Tuesday, Science Fiction Wednesday, WWF Thursday, and Anything Can Happen Friday." The important thing is that they've found themselves.

And any year now, they'll start making money.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *