As "Spin City" moves into its third season, it is occupying its third different time slot. But nobody who works on the show is complaining.

"It's not the ideal situation," Michel J. Fox allowed. "You'd love to go into a time slot from the outset and have it be a big hit there and stay there. That never happens."Well, almost never. It didn't happen with Fox's "Family Ties," which moved about NBC's schedule before hitting it big. And, while "Spin City" has moved from Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. to Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and now to Tuesdays at 8 p.m., Fox says he's thrilled.

"We're beyond elated about where we're going," Fox said. "Obviously, there's more audience available (on Tuesdays at 8). There are people in Colorado who have never seen the show because it was on at 7 o'clock last year. It's not a time when you have the best sampling of people available."

(Wow - someone in Hollywood acknowledging that not everyone lives in the East or West Coasts.)

COMING THIS SEASON: Reruns of "Spin City" have already moved to their new night and time. And when new episodes begin in the fall, here are a few things you can expect to see:

- Mike will get involved with a big movie actress in a multi-episode storyline that will open the season.

- The mayor faces re-election.

- Paul will finally get married during the November sweeps.

MIKE VS. ALEX: When "Spin City" premiered, Fox said he thought of his character, Mike Flaherty, as the grown-up version of Alex P. Keaton, the yuppie teenager he played on "Family Ties."

And he still thinks so. Sort of.

"He's obviously a much more vulnerable person than Alex," Fox said. "Alex was vulnerable, but I think a lot of that was a function of the fact that he was a teenager. For (Mike) to have gone on into life and to have had some successes that we may have expected from Alex, but then also to really confront his weaknesses and his problems - I don't know that Alex ever really did that as honestly as Michael does it."

At this point in his life, Fox is a lot happier playing Mike.

"I really like Mike because I love those moments when he just kind of catches himself and says, `You're such a mess.' That's really fun for me to play and I really enjoy it," Fox said.

A SHOW OF HER OWN? Fox's real-life wife, Tracy Pollan, whom he met on "Family Ties," appeared in an episode of "Spin City" last season. But don't expect to see Mr. and Mrs. Fox together again on TV anytime soon.

"We have other plans for Tracy," Fox said. "My company is producing a midseason pilot for ABC with Tracy. We'll shoot that in October or November. So, hopefully, Tracy will be busy."

STUNTS: "Spin City" certainly isn't alone, but the show has done its share of stunt casting - bringing in guest stars like Pollan and Raquel Welch and Fox's "Family Ties" mother, Meredith Baxter, to play his mother on his new show.

But Fox is hoping to progress beyond that.

"We did a stunt last year - an actual physical stunt - where Barry (Bostwick) and I jumped in the Hudson River," Fox said. "So I actually would like the idea of combining stunt casting with actual stunts. So, like, get Sharon Stone and fire her out of a cannon.

"I think there's 5 or 6 rating points right there."

FLAKY OR INTENSE? Richard Kind is just as manic in person as he is on "Spin City." But when he talks about his character, Paul, it hardly seems to be the same guy viewers see on the show.

"Everybody says my character's flaky and neurotic," Kind said. "I'm determined and intense. I am devoted. That you perceive as flaky."

"Oh, they perceive it as flaky, believe me," Fox interjected.

But Kind still begged to differ.

"I really believe he's just determined - it just comes off as so earnest," he said.

Kind told a room full of TV critics that he loves his role as the mayor's press secretary.

"So I go back and forth," Kind said. "I get to interact not just with my little family (in the office). I get to interact with the press, which, in my research - now I'm sucking up - are really interesting people.

"So I happen to love the job that Paul Lassiter has," he said, then adding - without skipping a beat, "We had a dog and a cat when I was a kid. And they once trapped a mouse for six hours. And the mouse just kept running back and forth. And that's how I see my character, running back and forth between you guys."

At this point, Fox was laughing uncontrollably. Other members of the cast were stunned. "That really happened?" Ruck asked.

But, remember, Kind isn't flaky.