TELEVISION: THE REAL GOLDEN AGE IS NOW

NO KIDDING--TV'S PRIME-TIME SHOWS ARE WITTIER, MORE RELEVANT, MORE COMPELLING THAN EVER BEFORE

CRICCCK, CRICCCK, CRICCCK--IS that the sound of slowly grinding teeth coming from the networks' office suites? So far, this hasn't been the plummiest of fall TV seasons. Overall network viewership is down 9%; none of the record 42 new shows has really connected with audiences; three have already been canceled; and even Murder One--everybody's pick as the season's best new series--is in danger of being smothered in the cradle, having to compete first with the closing arguments of the O.J. Simpson trial and now with ER. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for an industry that employs some of...

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