- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ins and outs

With network TV in holiday-special overdrive, this might be a good time to catch up on what’s coming in January and what’s on the way out.

First, the good news. Fox is bringing back “24,” Scripps Howard News Service reports, with two-hour episodes Jan. 15 and 16. The following week, on Jan. 23, “24” settles into its regular Monday slot (at 9 p.m.).

Wait … there’s more.

Last week, Fox released the season-four DVD of “24.” The disc includes what the network describes as a 10-minute “prequel” episode about what Jack Bauer (Keifer Southerland) has been doing since he faked his own death. The prequel takes place five months before season five begins.



Fox’s other big show (or more aptly put, its really big show), “American Idol,” returns Jan. 17 with a two-hour season opener. Another hour airs the following night (Jan. 18) — before the premiere of “Skating With Celebrities.”

Yes, you heard it right and, yes, it does sound a lot like “Dancing With the Stars.” But it’s set on ice … not a lacquered stage. “Skating” (hosted by Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton) will move to Monday nights at 8 on Jan. 23, notes the Sacramento Bee — just ahead of “24.”

According to Fox.com, the competing celebrity teams that will lace up their skates include Olympic silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan with actor-comedian Dave Coulier (“Full House”); former child actor Todd Bridges (“Diff’rent Strokes”) with three-time pairs figure-skating champion Jeni Meno; singer Debbie Gibson with world figure-skating champion Kurt Browning; actress Kristy Swanson (“Dude, Where’s My Car?”) with two-time Olympic pairs figure-skating medalist Lloyd Eisler; and TV personality Jillian Barberie (“Fox NFL Sunday”) with three-time U.S. pairs figure-skating champion John Zimmerman.

“Dancing With the Stars” returns to ABC on Jan. 5 with a two-hour installment and in the following weeks will air for 90 minutes each Thursday. This time, the results show will air the very next night, on Fridays (starting Jan. 6) — which means the winners and losers will be based on viewer votes from that week’s dance.

At NBC, it’s a mixed blessing, of sorts, for “Scrubs.” On the plus side, It returns Jan. 3 with back-to-back episodes. However, it follows the often gross and vomit-inducing “Fear Factor,” not exactly a perfect lead-in for a show about doctors.

Also next month, NBC’s current Tuesday comedy lineup, “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office,” will shift to the 9 p.m. bloc on Thursdays. The long-running “Will & Grace” will move to 8 p.m., ahead of the network’s new comedy, “Four Kings,” and the ratings-challenged “Joey” is going on hiatus — which likely means going away for good.

Other shows that already have been canceled or are on the way out, with only a few episodes scheduled to air:

On ABC: “Hot Properties” and “Night Stalker”

On CBS: “Threshold.” “Out of Practice” is classified as being “on hiatus,” but its return doesn’t look promising.

On NBC: “Inconceivable” and “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” although Miss Stewart’s program is still on, and the finale is scheduled for Dec. 21. The jury is still out on Amy Grant’s “Three Wishes,” which seems unable to shake its Friday-night ratings lull.

On Fox: “Head Cases” (one of the first of the new season’s shows to bite the dust), “Kitchen Confidential” and “Reunion” — a murder mystery that was abruptly cut short with no resolution.

On UPN: “Sex, Love and Secrets.”

On the WB: “Just Legal” is out. “Twins” and “Related” are on the fence

What’s returning for the remainder of the season?

ABC’s “Commander-in-Chief,” “Freddie” and “Invasion”; CBS’ “Close to Home,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Ghost Whisperer” and “How I Met Your Mother”; NBC’s “E-Ring,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Surface.” On Fox: “Bones, The War at Home” and the acclaimed “Prison Break” (which returns March 13, not in May as previously announced). On UPN: “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Love, Inc.”; and “Supernatural” on the WB.

Family matters

Justine Bateman has signed on for a guest appearance on “Arrested Development,” the Fox sitcom that stars her younger brother Jason.

Miss Bateman, known to “Family Ties” fans as Mallory Keaton, will play Nellie Bluth, a woman who may or may not be Michael’s (Mr. Bateman’s character) long-lost sister. The episode is slated to air Jan. 9, Zap2it.com reports.

The episode with Miss Bateman may turn out to be one of the final shows for the critically acclaimed but poorly rated sitcom. Fox did not order a full-season pickup for the Emmy-winning comedy, airing just six episodes to date this season.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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