New series for the new year

With the start of 2005, television networks are introducing a new crop of comedic and dramatic series, as well as the inevitable new reality shows.

NBC, still desperate to find another Friends, introduced the series Committed from the creators of Roseanne and Murphy Brown in the beginning of January. The show is the tale of a quirky New York couple, Nate (Josh Cooke) and Marni (Jennifer Finnigan) as they struggle to keep their opposites attracting. Dynamic Marni and unstable Nate’s courtship is challenged not only by their differences, but also by mostly unhelpful advice from friends Bowie (Darius McCrary) and Tess (Tammy Lynn Michaels). The eccentric comedy also casts Tom Poston, formerly of Newhart, as a “dying clown” living in a closet in Marni’s apartment. Committed currently airs on Tuesday nights a 9:30.

On the darker side, Medium, the latest drama from NBC, airs Monday nights at 10. The paranormal show has Allison DuBois (Patricia Arquette) unlocking the mysteries behind crime scenes using an extraordinary talent. DuBois is able to see and hear dead people, and though she is not totally comfortable with her ability, she realizes she has the power to ease the restless souls of the dead. With the support of her husband, Joe (Jake Weber), Allison’s biggest challenge is convincing the detectives that her “gift” is real.

FOX has always had great success with animated shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill. Now, they introduce American Dad from creator Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy success. American Dad has CIA agent Stan Smith going to great lengths to protect the family and country that he loves. Stan’s wife Francine converted from party girl to right-wing conservative when she met Stan, and they fell in love. They have a liberal daughter, Hayley, in college, and a geeky son, Steve. The family is completed by Roger, a bitter, nicotine-addicted, wine- drinking alien who Stan saved at Area 51, and Klaus, a CIA experiment gone wrong in the form of a goldfish with the brain of a German man. The series premieres Feb. 6 at 10:30 p.m., immediately following the Super Bowl.

The unreal reality shows multiply this season as WB introduces Big Man on Campus. The show is a collegiate dating show full of sexy co-eds and is filmed at the University of Central Florida. The fifteen hottest young female applicants were selected and given the challenge of crowning the “Big Man on Campus.” The unavoidable twist is the new king will in turn claim his “Campus Queen.” The hour-long beauty contest airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

CBS has two new competition-based reality shows. With Wickedly Perfect they attempt to find a Martha Stewart replacement as the new domestic living authority. Joan Lunden hosts the creative competition as 12-perfectionists battle in all that beautifies the home. Held at an elaborate estate in New England, the quality of the baking, sewing, gardening and more are judged by a panel including author Candace Bushnell (Sex in the City) and stylist David Evangelista. Wickedly Perfect is on Thursday nights at 8.

The Will was originally sold to ABC, but now airs on CBS on Saturdays at 8 p.m. The Will is a series in which contestants endure a number of challenges in order to be the last heir to a significant part of 73-year-old Bill Long’s estate.

So, get the remote control ready and the Tivo set for a season chalk full of new reasons not to study.