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In Brief: Three New Shows

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I'm already on record in New York's "Fall Preview" as believing that The West Wing (Wednesdays, starting September 22; 9 to 10 p.m.; NBC), in which Aaron Sorkin combines presidential politics with Noël Coward farce, is the season's best new show. Don't miss it (though Martin Sheen, liberal enough to take on the Christian Right in the pilot, really should include a token black or Latino on his White House staff). . . . I was almost as enthusiastic about Once and Again, the fortysomething romantic dramedy that spends its first eight weeks in the NYPD Blue time slot (Tuesdays starting September 21; 10 to 11 p.m.; ABC). Having now seen the second episode, I'm happy to report that divorced single parents Billy Campbell and Sela Ward finally spend a night together, after adolescent disarrangements as preposterous as Romeo and Juliet's. . . . Garlands as well to the offbeat and surprising Now and Again (Fridays, starting September 24; 9 to 10 p.m.; CBS), in which middle-aged insurance salesman John Goodman dies and is reborn as Eric Close, a bionic government agent who only wants to go home again to Margaret Colin. And also to Freaks and Geeks (Saturdays starting September 25; 8 to 9 p.m.; NBC), about high-school misfits, including a Linda Cardellini every bit as wonderful as Claire Danes, who make an affecting community out of their teen wounds.


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