The WB will be taking another step toward full-network status, launching a fifth night of programming - Thursdays - and adding four new series and one NBC castoff to nine returning shows.
The all-new Thursday-night lineup will feature three current WB sitcoms and "For Your Love," which NBC aired this spring but did not pick up. It's a difficult night, given NBC's dominance, but the WB has chosen to counter-program with four sitcoms featuring predominantly black casts.The WB is also going the aggressive route on Wednesdays. At 7 p.m. it will take direct aim at "Beverly Hills, 90210" by moving its most popular show, the teen drama "Dawson's Creek," opposite Fox's long-running soap opera. It's a decided risk but could have an upside given the fact that "90210" is fading.
The WB will follow "Creek" with "Charmed," an hourlong drama about three sisters who are also witches that is notable because it marks the return of former "90210" bad girl Shannen Doherty to series television. Odder still, "Charmed" is produced by Aaron Spelling, who fired Doherty from "90210" because of her well-publicized antics.
One of the WB's strongest shows, "7th Heaven," will air twice a week through the end of the year. When the network launches its fall schedule the series will air new episodes on Monday nights and repeats on Sundays at 6 p.m. (In January, the WB will "relaunch" Sundays with new series.)
The WB's new dramas:
Hyperion (Monday at 8 p.m.) stars Mark-Paul Gos-selaar ("Saved by the Bell") as a former nerd long overshadowed by his popular older brother (Dylan Neal of "Dawson's Creek"). Gosselaar returns home to Hyperion, Calif., as a hugely successful businessman with plans to open his company's new high-tech computer facility. Big brother, meanwhile, has hit the skids since his glory days in high school. From one of the producers of "thirtysomething."
Felicity (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.) is a "coming-of-age drama" starring Keri Russell ("Malibu Shores") as a sheltered young woman whose life changes when she goes to college in New York City. (It has been described as "Ally McBeal" in college.)
Charmed (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.) is a "supernatural thriller" about three sisters (Doherty, Holly Marie Combs of "Picket Fences" and Lori Rom) who "discover they each possess otherworldly powers when they are reunited."
And the network's sole new sitcom:
The Army Show (Sundays at 8:30 p.m.) is about a "band of misfits who are using the branch to get all that they can get."
The WB also announced a slate of midseason replacement shows:
Baby Blues is a half-hour animated comedy based on the comic strip of the same name.
Movie Stars is a sitcom about a pair of married movie stars (Harry Hamlin of "L.A. Law" and Jennifer Grant of "Beverly Hills, 90210") trying to raise a family amid the insanity.
You're With Kate is a sitcom that stars Park Overall ("Empty Nest") as a radio personality who dispenses advice to the lovelorn.
Zoe Bean is a "quirky coming-of-age comedy" about a young woman navigating life in New York City.
Rescue 77 is an hourlong drama about a "crack team" of paramedics in Los Angeles.
Among the shows the WB axed are "Kelly, Kelly," "Alright Already," "You're the One," "Nick Freno," "The Tom Show" and "Three." "The Parent 'Hood," while not on the WB's fall schedule, has been picked up as a midseason replacement show.
The WB's fall schedule
New shows are in bold; an asterisk indicates a returning show moving to a new time slot.
7th Heaven (repeats)* 6 p.m.
Sister, Sister 7 p.m.
Smart Guy* 7:30 p.m.
Unhappily Ever After 8 p.m.
The Army Show 8:30 p.m.
7th Heaven 7 p.m.
Hyperion 8 p.m.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 7 p.m.
Felicity 8 p.m.
Dawson's Creek* 7 p.m.
Charmed 8 p.m.
The Wayans Bros.* 7 p.m.
Jamie Foxx* 7:30 p.m.
Steve Harvey* 8 p.m.
For Your Love* 8:30 p.m.