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UPN, WB change course with fall programs

UPN has Chris Rock, WB has given up on Michigan J. Frog. That pretty much summarizes the different directions the two are headed.

The buzz for "Everybody Hates Chris," the critically-acclaimed comedy based on Rock's childhood, is so hot that CBS executives had to deny speculation that it could land on the bigger Viacom network.

Meanwhile, WB is trying to change expectations by dumping its animated mascot, which symbolized it as the place where younger viewers head. It has separate series starring Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith that illustrate the times they are a changin'.

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Here's a quick look at four new WB fall shows:

"Just Legal," 9 p.m. Monday: Jay Baruchel ("Million Dollar Baby") plays a young, naive lawyer prodigy who works for a jaded, washed up defense lawyer (Johnson) who believes "cops only catch the dumb ones" in a Jerry Bruckheimer series.

You'll Like It If: You enjoy the joke of seeing Johnson playing a fictional version of himself and having the goofy Baruchel play a clueless Doogie Howser.

You'll Hate It If: You think the premise is guilty of being preposterous.
Outlook: The comic pilot moves fast and has charm even if it has some dumb resolutions.

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"Supernatural," 9 p.m. Tuesday: WB alums Jensen Ackles ("Smallville") and Jared Padalecki ("Gilmore Girls") play brothers with different musical tastes who drive around America in a '67 Impala looking for their missing father. Instead, they discover evil unknown creatures.

You'll Like It If: You love producer McG's ("Charlie's Angels") visual film style and road series and could pick out Ackles and Padalecki from a gallery of beautiful-looking WB stars.

You'll Hate It If: You're not at all into this supernatural thing this season and wouldn't be even if Brad Pitt and George Clooney played the brothers.

Outlook: It looks as cool as the actors, but the opening plot is significantly less super than the intriguing premise. With better scripts, it could ride into the sunset as a success story.

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"Related," 9 p.m. Wednesday: Four adult sisters look for a life that mixes a career and romance in a series from "Friends" producer Marta Kauffman.

You'll Like It If: You miss "Friends," "Sex and the City" and the old NBC series, "Sisters"and listening to what women talk about.

You'll Hate It If: You don't want to revisit your own sibling rivalries.

Outlook: Without seeing a pilot, it is hard to relate.

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"Twins," 8:30 p.m. Friday: Melanie Griffith is the mother of twin sisters (one is played by Sara Gilbert of "Roseanne") who are as different as their mismatched parents in a series from the creators of "Will & Grace." Gilbert's character is smart, her sister is a dumb babe who thinks there is no "I" in family.

You'll Like It If: You're attracted to shows with big name stars.

You'll Hate It If: You thought they stopped making shows like this when Griffith was married to Johnson. The first time.

Outlook: It has some good lines and follows a hit, but it commits the twin sins of being predictable and silly.

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Rock's show is one of only three new series on UPN. Here is a summary.

"Sex, Love and Secrets," 9 p.m. Tuesday: Denise Richards, who has had some very public relationship issues with her bad boy husband, Charlie Sheen, spices things up midway through the pilot of this racially-diverse, California soap opera. It is about sexy 20somethings friends who make music, shoot pool and play the game "Imagine If" together. Sheen has nothing on one of the bad boy characters, played by Eric Balfour ("Six Feet Under," "Hawaii").

You'll Like It If: You enjoy watching beautiful young people make some terrible choices and engaging in risky sexual behavior that went out of style in the 1980s.

You'll Hate It: You detest the ripping off of "Desperate Housewives" and "The O.C."

Outlook: The National Geographic style narration likening human behavior to that of animals gets old real quick, Richards' tries too hard to be a villainous and the surprises can be seen from San Diego. Can't imagine it working, except as a guilty pleasure.

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"Everybody Hates Chris," 8 p.m. Thursday: Rock is the narrator and producer of the series, which revolves around how he was treated at age 13 at home and at the largely white middle school in Brooklyn that he is bused to daily.

You'll Like It If: You love funny situations, nostalgia, characters you can root for and clever narration like "believe it or not, there was a time when you couldn't wear sneakers all the time."

You'll Hate It If: Except for the word in the title, there really is nothing to hate.

Outlook: The pilot Rocks, but it is in a very competitive neighborhood.

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"Love, Inc.," 9:30 p.m. Thursday: The series that Shannen Doherty was bounced from, it is about a matchmaker, Denise (Busy Phillips), who can't find her own soul mate but tries to find them for clients who expect the earth to move on first dates. She works for a dating service owned by a woman (Holly Robinson Peete) whose marriage has fallen apart.

You'll Like It If: You love movie references, the Will Smith-Kevin James movie, "Hutch" and enjoy watching so-called romantic experts having trouble practicing what they preach.

You'll Hate It If: You expect new comedies to surprise, delight and make you laugh.

Outlook: Didn't instantly fall for Phillips ("Freak & Geeks"). The pilot didn't make the earth move, but it wasn't as bad as expected.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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