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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Subdued schedules for US TV
Spin City star Michael J Fox
Spin City star Michael J Fox will make a guest appearance
By entertainment correspondent Peter Bowes in Los Angeles

The launch of America's autumn TV schedule this week has been overshadowed by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The new crop of programmes has begun to appear on air, delayed by a week, but without much of the razzmatazz and relentless publicity that normally heralds the autumn season.

Some programmes have been cancelled while others, like Friends, have been subjected to heavy editing.
Friends stars Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow
New series: Friends stars Jennifer Aniston (L) and Lisa Kudrow

One episode had to be completely reshot. The third programme in the new season, due to air in the US next month, was to be set in an airport.

Monica and Chandler were to arrive extremely early for their honeymoon flight.

Much of the comedy centred around the crazy concept of arriving three hours in advance - but since that is now an accurate reflection of real life in America, the storyline is no longer funny.

Anti-terrorism

The CBS network has completely pulled from its schedule the first episode of the new CIA series, The Agency.

The drama included a reference to Osama bin Laden and a bomb being planted at Harrods in London.

The series will now start with an episode revolving around a plot to assassinate the Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

One of the most anticipated dramas is the Fox network's show, simply called 24.

Billed as the best new show by TV Guide, the fast action series stars Kiefer Sutherland as an anti-terrorism government agent who races the clock to prevent an assassination attempt on a presidential candidate.

Fox executives decided to remove a scene featuring a plane exploding during the debut episode which airs next month.

The autumn season features about 30 new shows - many of which have not been affected by the terrorist attacks.

Favourites

Popular stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and Michael J Fox also make a return to prime time television.

A year after leaving Spin City to battle Parkinson's disease Fox puts in an emotional guest appearance on the show.

DeGeneres's new sitcom on the CBS network, The Ellen Show, sees the actress take on another gay role very similar to the old Ellen Morgan character.

Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres has a new show

Since coming out as a lesbian and having her previous show cancelled by ABC TV, DeGeneres has struggled to rebuild her career.

She was dealt a further blow when her much publicised relationship with actress Anne Heche fell apart.

But the new show, which premièred on Monday evening, has received positive reviews. According to Howard Rosenberg, TV critic for the Los Angeles Times, the show is "one of the more promising new comedies" of the autumn season.

Superheros

And Star Trek fans are excited by the new series of the long running sci-fi franchise.

The UPN network is venturing where no other Star Trek series has dared to go - 100 years before William Shatner was first beamed up in the original Trek.

Smallville
Superman's formative years are the focus of Smallville

Scott Bakula fills the captain's chair in Star Trek: Enterprise as the commander of Starfleet's very first starship in the year 2151.

The stories are expected to have a higher quotient of emotion and passion than previous intergalactic adventures - with the captain getting his share of the action. "He's healthy and available," says Bakula.

Superman has also been subjected to the prequel treatment.

Next month, the Warner Bros network premières Smallville - a new show about the early years of the superhero before he had special powers.

Tom Welling plays the teenage Clark Kent going through high school. One of the show's writers, Alfred Gough, tells Entertainment Weekly: "It's puberty with superpowers."

See also:

26 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
New Star Trek hits US screens
21 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Stars rewrite work after US attack
13 Sep 01 | Film
Hollywood 'changed forever'
24 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
US attacks in West Wing storyline
31 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Superman drops pants for TV show
05 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Fox hints at Spin City return
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