Four new series: three dramas and one comedy
DRAMAS/REALITY: Encounters With the Unexplained. This one-hour reality show, which explores strange-but-true phenomena, will air Mondays at 8 p.m. The show will ask truly big-picture questions such as, "Are we really alone in the universe?"
Mysterious Ways. The drama features a team-a man and a woman, of course-who investigates strange goings on. Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m., it stars Rae Dawn Chong and Adrian Pasdar.
Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures. Jack and his furry, scaly and feathery friends will join the weekday schedule at 4 p.m.
COMEDY: The Rumfords. Remember Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Like the movie, the sitcom mixes live action and animation. It is set for Fridays at 8 p.m.
With a helping hand from one-third owner NBC, Pax TV is slowly increasing the amount of original programming in its prime time schedule. It all fits into Pax TV's family-friendly vaguely Judeo-Christian format-that is, light on sex and violence and heavy on miracles, higher powers, angels and that sort of thing.
The original programming, which chief programmer Jeff Sagansky said is produced at a fraction of what the big networks pay, appears each weekday at 8 p.m. But the guts of the prime time schedule are off-network dramas Diagnosis Murder and Touched by an Angel. They're stripped at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. On Sunday night, Pax TV will repeat NBC miniseries and movies and air its own made-for-TV movies and special events like the Mrs. America Pageant.
Pax TV hopes to lead viewers into the prime time action with game shows and repeats of local newscasts from NBC-owned stations and affiliates. Pax TV and NBC are trying to line up stations to not only rerun their news on Pax TV stations, but also sell local ad times and share the revenue. Sagansky said he expects such "repurposed" newscasts to reach roughly half of Pax's 80% coverage of the U.S. by the fall. "We hope to have 100% coverage by the end of the year." Pax will roll out its slate on Aug. 21.
What they're saying
Pax still isn't much of a factor as a national network, ad executives said last week. "They compare themselves to cable networks more than anything else," said one. But he's still rooting for the Weblet to grow because every new competitor works to the media buyer's advantage. "Partnering with NBC can only help them."
Chicken Soup for the Soul, Flipper, Hope Island, The Star Machine.