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"DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES,' "LOST' LOOK LIKE WINNERS

With the World Series on Fox getting most of this week's attention, it is the traditional time to assess how the new TV season is going locally.

If new shows look like losers after three weeks, analysts don't expect them to pull a miracle comeback like the Boston Red Sox.

The failure of "Jack & Bobby" to ignite in the local ratings this year gets my vote as the biggest disappointment of the season. It gets a second chance this week in a new time slot at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Generally, Buffalo viewers have been attracted to quality in even larger numbers than they have nationally. Let's take a network-by-network look at how new shows are performing locally.

ABC (Channel 7): "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," the two series that have turned around ABC's fortunes, are doing even better here than they are doing nationally. "Housewives" stayed strong Sunday with a 14.6 rating, in the ball park of Fox's coverage of Game 2 of the World Series. "Lost" is the highest-rated 8 p.m. series in Buffalo even though many kids should be doing their homework then. Last Wednesday's episode had an incredible 14.3 rating, airing opposite Game 7 of the Boston-New York Yankees series. The reality series "Wife Swap" is doing decently opposite NBC's "Law & Order" and CBS' "CSI: New York."

"Boston Legal," which benefits from the lead-in from "Desperate Housewives," suffered its first local loss to NBC's "Crossing Jordan" Sunday. "Legal" loses so much of its lead-in that ABC has to consider moving "Alias" into its time slot when it returns in January.

The rest of ABC's new series, "life as we know it," "Rodney" and "Complete Savages," aren't exciting anyone locally. And Mark Cuban's "The Benefactor" flopped here before it was canceled.

CBS (Channel 4): "Clubhouse," the excellent drama that is moving from Tuesdays to Saturdays, had a strong opening here but fell quickly. "CSI: New York" beats "Law & Order" here, and this has always been a huge "Law & Order" market. But the gap has narrowed.

Jason Alexander's new critically-battered comedy, "Listen Up," actually gets higher ratings than its lead-in, "Still Standing," most weeks. Rob Lowe's new series, "dr. vegas," is getting beaten by NBC's "Medical Investigation," and may be on life support shortly.

UPN (Channel 23): "Kevin Hill," the series from Lackawanna native Jorge Reyes, had a strong opening here and last week doubled the lead-in of "America's Top Model." The two other new decent shows, "Second Time Around" and "Veronica Mars," haven't gotten much local support, with ratings in the 1 range.

NBC: Once again, it is proving that Olympic promotion only helps if you have good shows. And NBC didn't. Before it was moved to Wednesdays to die opposite "Lost," Heather Locklear's new series, "LAX," had an anemic 4.6 local rating on Mondays. "Hawaii," which is already on hiatus, didn't do much better. "Father of the Pride," the awful adult animated series, did OK here until NBC ran a three-episode marathon to replace "Last Comic Standing." "Comic" died here before it was pulled. "Medical Investigation" does OK here, but it could be hurt if CBS replaces "dr. vegas" with something decent.

And what about "Joey," the one sure NBC hit? The "Friends" spin-off opened really well here, but quickly slipped to about a 9 rating and gets hammered weekly by CBS' "Survivor." The pilot was funny and well-done, but as I suspected all the dumb Joey jokes got old fast. Subsequent episodes have almost been very repetitive and painful to watch. With a weak lead-off batter, the entire NBC Thursday lineup is suffering locally, with "Without a Trace" even beating "ER" here now. At least NBC's newest reality series, "The Biggest Loser," had a fat Tuesday opening here, a 9.5 rating.

FOX: The Yanks-Sox series was a huge local ratings hit and Fox has used it to promote the heck out of all its coming series. But it will learn, like NBC did, that promotion during major sports events only works with good series. The pilot of "House" is involving, but it doesn't look like a Fox series. All the reality series about nannies, obnoxious fake bosses and a rebellious billionaire make you fear for the future of our children.

WB: "Jack & Bobby" lost half of its "Charmed" lead-in and had a low 1.9 rating on its final original Sunday episode but nothing new from the WB has caught on here.

e-mail apergament@buffnews.com

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