Cable networks are prepping for March with an ambitious new slate of shows. “When there isn’t a lot of noise from broadcasters, March is a good window for us,” says Tim Brooks, SVP of research for Lifetime. Next month, look for reality to pop. On Oxygen’s Mr. Romance, Fabio teaches beefcakes how to be heartthrobs. ABC Family’s Las Vegas Garden of Love, meanwhile, follows a wacky crew that runs a wedding chapel. On the scripted front, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody on Disney Channel zooms in on the adorable Sprouse twins, whose lives change when their mom gets a job as a singer in a swanky Boston hotel. Here is a sample of what’s coming.
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The Shield’s fourth season on FX (March 15, 10:30 p.m. ET): FX lures top talent, adding Glenn Close to the ratings behemoth.
Deadwood enters its second season on HBO (March 6, 9 p.m.): Can it hold its own as a heavy-hitting original for a network desperately needing one?
Project Greenlight’s third incarnation is on Bravo (March 15, 9 p.m.): Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hunt for a hit moviemaker migrates from HBO to the re-branded arts network. This time they search for a horror flick.
Power Girls on MTV (March 10, 10:30 p.m.): MTV hopes to find a new reality star in PR princess and ex-con Lizzie Grubman.
Chasing Farrah on TV Land (March 23, 10 p.m.): Cameras follow ’70s star Farrah Fawcett and her troubled personal life. What was she thinking?
Las Vegas Garden of Love on ABC Family (March 21, 10 p.m.): Building ratings steam under new President Paul Lee, the network chronicles a lovable family managing a wedding chapel in the City of Sin.
Mr. Romance on Oxygen (March 14, 10 p.m.): Buff blond Fabio takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a heartthrob-training contest. The winner ends up on the cover of a romance novel.
NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Kojak on USA (March 27, 9-11 p.m.): What started as a movie idea spun into a series revival starring Ving Rhames.
The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody on Disney Channel (March 18, 7 p.m.): Disney tries to spawn its latest multimedia cash cows: the twin cuties from Big Daddy, Dylan and Cole Sprouse.
Fat Actress on Showtime (March 7, 10 p.m.): HBO may lack for originals at the moment, but Showtime puts its weight behind this six-episode reality spoof from Kirstie Alley.
Intervention on A&E (March 6, 10 p.m.): Amid critics’ accusations that the network is addicted to younger demos, it’s rolling out a documentary series profiling people struggling with addictions of their own.
Invasion Iowa on Spike (March 29–April 1, 9 p.m.): William Shatner tricks a small town into thinking he’s filming an independent sci-fi movie, then reveals on April Fools’ Day they’ve been had. The reality miniseries might just be weird enough to score a hit for a male network struggling to reassert its maleness.
The Michael Jackson Trial: An E! News Special (March weeknights in prime): The celeb-driven network will likely raise eyebrows, if not ratings, with daily re-enactments of the Gloved One’s child-molestation trial.