For the new TV season we have . . . more of the same
The three commercial networks have made the preliminary announcements of their new schedules for fall 1984 and the word is: more of the same - 171/2 hours of more of the same.
Although these spring announcements of fall schedules are subject to much shifting of time slots, substituting of titles, changes in story-line direction, and even total disappearance before the September debuts, the fact is that early announcements pretty much herald the general direction viewers can expect in the television year ahead.
ABC, which announced first, will be presenting eight new series, totaling 61/ 2 hours.
CBS, with a first place for the current season, was second to announce: five new series totaling 31/2 hours, the smallest new-season total of hours in recent CBS programming history. Well, when you're No. 1 . . . .
NBC, the last to announce, and the last in the ratings race this year, has scheduled nine new shows, totaling 71/2 hours.
Here's a quick rundown of the new shows that have been announced. But bear in mind that by the time the new season starts in late September, everything, including the title, concept, and stars, may have gone through a metamorphosis that could turn caterpillar into butterfly . . . or, more likely, vice versa.
2 ONE-HOUR DRAMA SERIES:
* Cover Up (Saturdays, 10-11 p.m.). Two private investigators (he, a former Special Forces officer and she, the widow of a murdered intelligence officer) form a private investigation team. The big switch is this: They pose as a model and fashion-photographer team and he is the model. Well, in prime-time entertainment television that constitutes a Big Switch.
* Murder, She Wrote (Sundays, 8-9 p.m.). A celebrated mystery writer named Agatha . . . sorry, Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury, has a penchant for solving crimes. She gets involved in bizarre situations that occur all over America, and she's helped by a chain of cross-country relatives. Our heroine, however, like her Miss Marple prototype, lives in a small coastal village - but in Maine rather than Devonshire.
3 HALF-HOUR SITCOMS:
* E.R. (Tuesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.) stands for Emergency Room, and you can guess what it's all about - Elliott Gould is a doctor and Conchata Ferrell a nurse in a Chicago hospital. Comedy and tragedy share the same ward on the night shift. This one emerges from the Norman Lear Embassy production center, so there's always a chance it will somehow prove to be innovative.
* Charles in Charge (Wednesdays, 8-8:30 p.m.) stars Scott Baio as a college student who serves as a live-in family helper to three frenetic teens and pre-teeners. It's a Scholastic Production, so maybe there will prove to be a little teen sensitivity. But count on lots of adolescent problem-solving, mixed in with lots of music - both loud.
* Dreams (Wednesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.). Five Philadelphians struggle for success as a rock band. By day, they work at blue-collar jobs; at night they play in Uncle Frank's nightclub. The producers plan to integrate lots of music in rock video style. So be prepared for sometimes irrational sound-and-image inserts. And keep one hand on the volume dial - if not on the off switch.
6 ONE-HOUR DRAMA SERIES:
* Streethawk (Mondays, 9-9 p.m.). Rock star Rex Smith plays a motorcycle cop recruited by the federal government to fight crime, riding the world's fastest cycle, ''Streethawk,'' which is equipped with supersophisticated weapons. This show, however, is not for the supersophisticated.
* Paper Dolls (Tuesdays, 9-10 p.m.). Rich and powerful people fight to control the glamorous and competitive world of high fashion. Morgan Fairchild and Lloyd Bridges star in this series, a spinoff from an ABC Movie for Television. Ugliness in the world of beauty.
* Jessie (Tuesdays, 10-11 p.m.). Lindsay Wagner (you remember, the Bionic Woman) plays a police psychiatrist. Except for her ''old fashioned'' mother, Celeste Holm, you can guess the rest.
* Glitter (Thursdays, 9-10 p.m.). That's the name of a celebrity-oriented magazine that probes glamour with David Birney and Morgan Brittany as reporters. Sounds as if it will have just about as much depth as People magazine.
* Honolulu Run (Fridays, 10-11 p.m.). Two street cops from Chicago start a new life in Hawaii as, you guessed it, private detectives. Well, at least there'll be lots of sand and surf scenes.
* Finder of Lost Loves (Saturdays, 10-11 p.m.). This one is a switch - detective Tony Franciosa, instead of finding grounds for divorce, dedicates his life to reuniting separated people. Producers could save on script money by simply reversing story lines of most TV detective-agency cases.
2 HALF-HOUR COMEDIES
* People Do the Craziest Things (Thursdays, 8-8:30 p.m.). Still another ''reality based'' series. Bert Convy hosts this new one, which sounds like a combination of ''Real People'' and ''Candid Camera.'' The genre, however, seems to be on its last legs. Enough!
* Who's the Boss? (Thursdays, 8:30-9 p.m.). Another ''switch'' comedy - a former ballplayer (male) with a nine-year-old daughter becomes the housekeeper for a beautiful advertising executive (female). Tony Danza of ''Taxi'' wields a dustpan instead of a baseball bat.
6 ONE-HOUR DRAMATIC SERIES
* Highway to Heaven (Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m.). Michael Landon is the producer and star of what might be called ''Little House on the Highway.'' Landon has cast himself as an angel sent to help people - all heart, all concept.
* V (Fridays, 8-9 p.m.). You liked it so well as two miniseries that NBC decided to place it on the regular schedule. First, there'll be a repeat of both miniseries and then the struggle continues every week between Earth and the rodent-eating reptilian aliens.
* Hunter (Fridays, 9-10 p.m.). ''A-Team'' producer Steve Cannell tries his hand at a suave detective series featuring, what else, a pair of unorthodox police officers. Former football great Fred Dryer is teamed with Stefanie Kramer.
* Miami Vice (Fridays, 10-11 p.m.). See how much more interesting the title got when they dropped the word Squad? Another police series with lots of ''unorthodox'' partners, ethnic crime, drugs, prostitution, gangs, and all that ''exciting'' stuff that happens in Miami. Whatever happened to beach parties and surfing?
* Partners in Crime (Saturdays, 9-10 p.m.). Would you believe Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter as private eyes? Better believe it, because that's what they are - and if looking at Loni and Lynda isn't enough, there's also San Francisco.
* Hot Pursuit (Saturdays, 10-11 p.m.). How does a couple-in-love-on-the-run strike you as a theme for a show? It's two concepts for the price of one.
3 HALF-HOUR COMEDY SERIES
* It's Your Move (Wednesdays, 9:30-10 p.m.). Jason Bateman of ''Silver Spoons'' portrays an enterprising young schemer who has trouble with his neighbors. This seems to be the weakest in concept of all the new shows.
* The Bill Cosby Show (Thursdays, 8-8:30 p.m.). Warm ethnic family show, created by Ed Weinberger of the old ''Mary Tyler Moore'' show. Hard to see how it can go wrong with both Cosby and Weinberger involved.
* Punky Brewster (Sundays, 7:30:8 p.m.). A little Shirley Temple-type girl wanders into the life of an old bachelor. Both, however, are almost certainly doomed to become sacrificial lambs on the altar of CBS's ''60 Minutes'' opposite them.
Missing from the fall schedules will be such old favorites as ''Happy Days,'' ''Hart to Hart,'' ''Fantasy Island,'' ''That's Incredible,'' ''Oh! Madeline,'' ''Lottery,'' ''One Day at a Time,'' ''The Four Seasons,'' ''Real People,'' ''Yellow Rose,'' ''Mama's Family,'' ''The Master,'' ''We Got It Made,'' and ''Buffalo Bill.''
So there you have it for fall, 1984 - lots of police dramas, family sitcoms, youth and ethnic-oriented series. In some, two old concepts have been combined; in others, an old concept has been given a reverse twist. With ''V,'' a successful miniseries is being stretched into a maxiseries. But basically, with only one or two slightly innovative areas of relief, the masters of network scheduling are assuming that you, the audience, want them to continue with the safe, familiar, hackneyed feel of prime-time programming which they prepared for you last year, the year before that, and the year before that.
'The Mystic Warrior'
The Mystic Warrior (ABC, Sunday, May 20, 8-11 p.m.; also Monday, 9-11 p.m.) is a two-part miniseries that combines native-American anthropology with way-out mysticism and modern melodrama. Based on Ruth Beebe Hill's novel ''Hanta Yo,'' about Sioux tribes in the 1800s, there's lots of gorgeous scenery, grade-school-type Indian tableaux, and pseudo-authentic sociological material about life in the lodges as young braves train to be chiefs, etc. In its favor, the series does try to give the Sioux people, their religion, and their family life some degree of individuality, something seldom seen in other Indian films. But to a great extent, it is a well-meaning, literate ''grunter'' which the youngsters may find fascinating but which adults may start to find tiresome and chucklesome after the first hour or two. It's probably more authentic than ''The Last Days of Pompeii,'' although it may have you yearning before the end for a good old-fashioned eruption.
'The First Olympics - Athens 1896'
The First Olympics - Athens 1896 (Sunday, NBC, 8-10 p.m.; also Monday, 8-11 p.m. ) is a fine period two-parter about the first modern Olympic Games. This miniseries follows the careers of individual athletes and legislators as the games are put together. Lavish detail and superb photography capture the spirit of the Olympics, which seems to have been lost in recent years. Might be a better show than the 1984 Olympics.