TV's New Beginnings

After a slow fall, prime time is no longer a desert island


The singing juggernaut is back, with new judge Kara DioGuardi, second from left.

The election had one bipartisan benefit: it covered up the fact that there was not much else to watch on TV last year. Though the writers' strike was resolved in February, it pushed back production of new shows. Ratings dropped; NBC handed a third of its prime time to Jay Leno; it seemed as if TV itself were petering out.

But now hope is on the way! Also change--at least in the changing-channels sense. On top of the usual crush of midseason events (Fox's revamped American Idol) and cable debuts (Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica), there's a rush of strike-delayed shows. If...

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