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If you've turned on CBS in the past month, you probably saw the amusing promo for "Chicago Hope" (9 tonight, Channel 4), which notes that it's from the creator of "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal."

What it doesn't tell you is that "Chicago Hope" predates both and that David E. Kelley left it to create the Emmy winners for Best Drama and Best Comedy.

Now he's back trying to breathe new life into his old "Hope."

That point is made before the new opening credits as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger (Mandy Patinkin) unsuccessfully tries to revive a dead patient.

Realizing that the doctor who discovered the deceased is reluctant to tell the patient's wife the truth, Geiger advises her to say, "He's still not out of recovery."

Undoubtedly, Kelley's symbolism is intentional. He knows that reviving "Chicago Hope" won't be easy, especially because it is competing with NBC's "Frasier" at 9 p.m. and the season's most talked-about new comedy, Fox's "Action," at 9:30.

In a good but not Emmy-caliber premiere, Kelley brings "Chicago Hope" back to its roots with legal, ethical and human issues involving a patient who dies after liposuction to remove 20 pounds of fat, a priest who has his penis reattached and a 7-year-old boy who has complicated heart surgery.

Along the way, Kelley introduces two strong new female doctors (Barbara Hershey and Lauren Holly) and gives Geiger, the brilliant heart surgeon who has returned to "Chicago Hope" full time after basically showing up during sweeps months for the past few years, something missing from his first incarnation: a heart and a reason for living besides delivering mean-spirited humor.

Meanwhile, the "Frasier" (9 tonight, Channel 2) season premiere is the mother of all episodes.

The clever opener finds Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) in deep denial when he begins dating a smart woman, Mia (Rita Wilson, who is Tom Hanks' wife in real life) with a remarkable resemblance to his mother. His father, Martin (John Mahoney), and brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), see it well before some old home movies hit the good doctor right between the eyes in this Oedipus-inspired episode.

"It amazes me that a good psychiatrist can be blind to something so obvious," Frasier says about something unrelated to his own blindness.

Mama Mia, though you can see many of the obvious jokes coming, it's still funny stuff.

And be sure to stay for the home movies in the postscript, which illustrate that the Crane boys prepared for their couch sessions early in life.

Ratings: "Chicago Hope": 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

"Frasier": 3 1/2 stars.

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