Television: Extreme Makeovers

A new cast, a new voice, a new seriousness. Three established shows are undergoing radical surgery

When times are good, life is good for the shoe salesman. When times are bad, life is good for the shoe repairman. In the network-TV business, times are not so good. Its biggest hits are aging and atrophying, with no breakout smash among the fall's new shows. So the networks have hung on to several high-profile series, each with a potentially fatal flaw, to see if they can buff them up and get a few more seasons' use out of them.

Long-running series always evolve, of course: Law & Order may soon have gone through more generations of actors than...

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