Here`s a rundown of the new CBS series, based on pilots and/or premi`ere episodes and on chats with producers and actors. Since schedules are still being set, some of the times and even titles may change before air time. Be sure to check local listings. Downtown may be one of the most innovative of the new shows, a clever twist on the old detective standby. Personable, offbeat Michael Nouri stars as a policeman who is assigned to serve as a ``probation cop,'' in an experimental program that puts parolees under the wing of an officer. He draws a rich kleptomaniac, a hip youngster, a juvenile delinquent teen-age girl, and a slightly mad character. Then he promptly assigns his charges to live in a big house in Beverly Hills and turns them into assistants who will aid him in future assignments. Totally unbelievable. But it is a new idea.
My Sister Sam marks another series outing for Pam Dawber of ``Mork and Mindy'' fame. She is refreshing as a professional photographer in L.A., whose irrepressible teen-age sister comes to live with her, cramping her free-living style. The pilot I saw is being reworked, but it had a lot of spirit as well as some questionable morals. It may be cleaned up in the reworking. It's meant to be a family show in which one sibling mothers another. Could be fun, since Dawber is turning into a creditable comedienne.
Together We Stand is an extended-family drama. A husband (Elliott Gould) and his wife have a natural son and an adopted daughter, who are joined by an adopted Vietnamese youth and an adopted black sister. Dee Wallace Stone seems more adorable as Mom than the children, but you've got to find Gould charming to like this show. I didn't.
The Wizard claims to represent innovative programming, but the major innovation is the casting of David Rappaport, a ``little person'' or midget, in the lead. In the series he combines toymaking, problem-solving, and charm in one long, cutesy hour of routine plot. The show isn't aided by his cockney accent -- sometimes unintelligible to American viewers. ``Wizard'' is a gimmicky fantasy-action-adventure combo. Kids may love it. I doubt that adults will.
Better Days could be described as a ``Welcome Back, Kotter'' without Kotter. It concerns a boy from Beverly Hills trying to fit into an interracial Brooklyn high school. There's lots of rap talk and an obvious try at appealing mainly to young people -- who, one hopes, will look elsewhere for better-written shows.
Kay O'Brien features a woman who wants to be a surgeon and faces not only the grind of hospital residency but the unfairness of sex discrimination. K.O. is pretty, lonely, ethical, and tired. Viewers will learn more about hospital life and surgery than they ever expected on entertainment television. For those who love the smell of chloroform and the glint of the surgical knife, ``Kay O'Brien'' makes for intelligent entertainment, but many will find it too clinical.
Designing Women is another ``Golden Girls'' with younger women. Four interior designers combine forces to make their business -- and their social lives -- a success. It's full of sexual innuendo. The producer says the women will explore their relationships and challenges responsibly in future episodes. Maybe.
With the network in flux because of management changes last week, we can expect quick cancellations of losing shows and extended runs of shows that need time to mature. By the way, where's that new ``Mary Tyler Moore Show'' we were promised? Last season's unsuccessful MTM show seemed better than the new ones. Show times
Here are the starting dates and times for the CBS shows previewed in the article above.
Better Days, Wednesdays, 8:30-9 p.m., starting Oct. 1.
Designing Women, Mondays, 9:30-10 p.m., starting Sept. 29.
Downtown, Saturdays, 8-9 p.m., starting Sept. 27.
Kay O'Brien, Thursdays, 10-11 p.m., starting Sept. 25.
My Sister Sam, Mondays, 8:30-9 p.m., starting Oct. 6.
Together We Stand, Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m., starting Oct. 1., but previewing Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, 8-8:30 p.m.
The Wizard, Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m., started Sept. 9.