NBC and ABC cast an eye toward next season Wednesday and made plans to introduce several new prime-time series next month that they hope will catch on in time to be included on their fall schedules.
In NBC's case, the network finally succumbed to the alien ratings figures and canceled "V." The science-fiction series about freedom fighters battling to save Earth from a race of otherworldly lizards will have its final telecast March 22.
Replacing it on Fridays at 9 p.m. will be "Half Nelson," a detective series starring Joe Pesci as a would-be actor who runs a patrol service "for the stars" in Beverly Hills. Dean Martin will be seen as himself in a recurring role.
"Half Nelson," which will co-star Victoria Jackson, Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus and Fred Williamson, will premiere with a two-hour installment March 24, then will move into its regular Friday slot March 29, NBC said.
Pesci received an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Jake LaMotta's brother in the motion picture "Raging Bull."
"V," which debuted as a series last October following two high-rated miniseries, never scored well in the ratings. It ranks 61st among the 83 network series that have aired this season.
Meanwhile, ABC said that, beginning March 21, it will replace its Thursday 8-10 p.m. movie block with two series, "Wildside" and "Eye to Eye."
"Wildside," airing at 8 p.m., is a light-hearted adventure show from Walt Disney Productions. It stars Howard E. Rollins Jr., William Smith, J. Eddie Peck, Terry Funk and John DiAquino as a team of "rough riders" who fight for justice in the Old West.
"Eye to Eye," which will follow at 9 p.m., is a detective series starring Charles Durning and Stephanie Faracy.
As in years past, all three networks will be introducing new series in March and April to get audience feedback before they sit down to hammer out the fall schedules that are released in May.