It's hello "Mary," but is it goodbye to "Our Family Honor"?
The return of sitcom veteran Mary Tyler Moore to the small screen and the move of "Spenser: For Hire" to the slot occupied by "Our Family Honor" were the highlights of the first major volley of prime-time schedule changes announced Wednesday by CBS and ABC.
Beginning Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. on CBS, Moore, the former Mary Richards ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and Laura Petrie ("The Dick Van Dyke Show"), will be reincarnated as Mary Brenner, the "helpline" columnist at a small Chicago newspaper, in "Mary," from the star's production company, MTM Enterprises.
Following it at 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays will be "Foley Square," a comedy produced in-house at CBS and starring Margaret Colin as a Manhattan assistant district attorney.
Those two new shows will replace "Stir Crazy," which will have its last airing in that time period next week.
Over at ABC, "Spenser: For Hire," starring Robert Urich as a high-brow, low-rent Boston detective, will move from Fridays at 10 p.m. to Tuesdays at 10 p.m., beginning Oct. 29. ABC is still undecided about the fate of "Our Family Honor," the drama that now occupies the Tuesday night slot.
"Honor," which stars Eli Wallach and Kenneth McMillan as patriarchs of a family of criminals and a family of cops, respectively, is rumored to be on the cancellation list. But an ABC spokesman said Wednesday that the show might be moved to "Spenser's" former slot opposite the tough competition from "Miami Vice" on NBC and "Falcon Crest" on CBS.
Though "Family Honor," from Lorimar, actually ranks slightly higher than "Spenser," from Warner Bros. Television, in the season-to-date ratings from the A.C. Nielsen Co., industry wisdom suggests that "Vega$" veteran Urich is the more logical star to follow Cybill Shepherd, co-star of ABC's new hit "Moonlighting."
"Stir Crazy's" ratings rose steadily in its first few weeks, but it still finished as the 44th-ranked program of last week. The series, from Columbia, remains in production, and CBS said it will return to the lineup later in the season.