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The fall TV season plays it safe and capitalizes on past successes.

More of the Same

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Are you going through "Survivor" withdrawal already? Don't despair. The summer's hottest new series returns after the first of the year on CBS, this time in Australia.

But the year's other hottest series, ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" continues this fall — and it'll take up four hours of prime time, with episodes on Sundays and Thursdays at 9 p.m. and Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

The rest of the new fall lineup can be characterized by that acronym TV weathermen use when the weather settles into day-after-day sameness: MOTS, for More of the Same. But it'll be a bit slow starting this year. The debut of the new season will be delayed because nobody wants to compete with the 2000 Summer Olympics, which run Sept.15-Oct. 1.

Here's a look at some of what's new this fall on the tube.

Sept. 5
As the eyes of the world turn to Australia for the Summer Olympics, PBS-TV offers another view of the nation Down Under through the eyes of a native son. "Australia: Beyond the Fatal Shore," written and hosted by author and art critic Robert Hughes, is a six-hour exploration of the land, people, history and national character of a complex country. The series airs at 9 p.m. Sept.5-7.

Sept. 7
"WWF Smackdown" begins an all-new season on WUPV-TV, airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. For 52 consecutive weeks, you'll be able to satisfy your inner child and watch bulky men pretend to hurt each other.

Sept. 10
Each year, half the U.S. population is touched by the death of a relative or close friend. Because of the conflict, crisis and pain that often shadow the end of life, a rising chorus of patients and their families is joining healthcare professionals to advocate better care for the dying. A four-part PBS-TV series from Bill and Judith Moyers, "On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying," begins tonight and continues each night at 9 through Sept. 13. Following the final episode, WCVE-TV will air a live local call-in program.

Sept. 11
"Judge Mathis" makes his debut on WUPV, weeknights from 6 to 7 p.m. As a young man, Greg Mathis was involved with gangs, dropped out of school and spent time in jail. After promising his mother he would turn his life around, he earned a law degree, became the youngest judge in Michigan's history and served as a Michigan Superior Court Judge.
HBO presents the winner of this year's Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at 8 tonight. "One Day in September" traces the story of the kidnapping and massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by a Palestinian terrorist group during the Munich Olympics in 1972. The program features the first interview with the lone surviving terrorist.

Sept. 12
A&E presents an original movie based on Robert Parker's best-selling detective series at 8 p.m. Joe Mantegna stars as Spenser, the tough Boston private eye, and Marcia Gay Harden plays his longtime girlfriend. In "Thin Air," a young bride vanishes and Spenser probes her mysterious past.

Sept. 13
"Dean Koontz' Sole Survivor," an original four-hour thriller miniseries airs tonight and Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. on Fox TV. The mini-series stars Billy Zane and is based on Dean Koontz's best-selling novel. Zane plays a former crime reporter who is haunted by the plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Then he learns of a possible sole survivor and tracks her down. He finds her simultaneously hunted by dark and deadly conspirators.

Sept. 25
The Cinemax Reel Life documentary series presents "Princess Diana's Dresses," a behind-the-scenes look at the 1997 Christie's auction at which Diana sold more than 70 of her gowns for charity. Two months later, Diana was killed in a car crash. The documentary, airing at 7 p.m., presents interviews with buyers and designers.

Sept. 26
Oscar-winner James Coburn hosts AMC's original production of "20th-Century Fox: The Blockbuster Years" at 8 p.m. The documentary explores the last four decades of the studio's history with clips from dozens of films, plus interviews with celebrated actors and filmmakers. Among movies to be highlighted are the "Star Wars" trilogy and "Titanic."

Sept. 28
Romance Classics kicks off a new series, "Journey Women off the Map," at 8 p.m. The travel-adventure series will explore the dreams and motivations of spirited women as they explore exotic places. Among the series' hosts are Whoopi Goldberg and Camryn Manheim.

Oct. 3
Starting tonight at 8 p.m., PBS-TV presents five hour-long episodes of "Building Big." If you've ever wondered how a suspension bridge withstands the forces of nature or how a dam can hold back a gazillion gallons of water or how they build 100-story skyscrapers, this series will have the answers. The series continues each Tuesday through Oct. 31.

Oct. 8
"Ed," a new drama with what NBC hopes is cross-generational appeal, debuts at 8 p.m. Ed Stevens is a quirky New York attorney who moves back to his small Midwestern town after losing his job and dumping his philandering wife.

Oct. 24
Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis stars as "Geena" in this new series beginning at 9:30 p.m. "Geena" is a sitcom that follows the life of a single career woman living the glamorous, fast-paced life of a successful New Yorker, until she meets the man of her dreams — a widower with two children — and is thrust into the world of instant family and instant motherhood.

Oct. 25
Andre Braugher, who played the cop with a sensitive soul on "Homicide: Life on the Street," stars in ABC-TV's "Gideon's Crossing," premiering at 10 p.m. Braugher stars as Dr. Ben Gideon, the voice of reason, empathy and wisdom in a world of medical chaos, bureaucracy and hypocrisy. His students love him and fear him, while his patients accept that they must make changes if their lives don't have meaning.

Undated
NBC launches "Titans," a new Aaron Spelling primetime serial about the passionate lives of the rich and the beautiful Wednesdays at 8 p.m. The plot centers on a young fighter pilot who comes home to Beverly Hills only to find his filthy rich family torn apart.

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