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‘Booker,’ ‘Totally Hidden Video’ lead the channel to the head of the TV pack

Jump 21, FOXJump 21, FOX

Gina Nemo, Peter DeLuise and Dustin Nguyen during '21 Jump Street' Press Conference, Universal City, California, June 3rd, 1987

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Hey, major networks! Guard your chicken coops! Fox is clawing its way into Monday night, giving “the fourth network” three nights of original prime-time programming (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). This move is bolstered by two new one-hour dramas and two half-hour comedies.

One of the dramas, Booker, is a spinoff of 21 Jump Street, starring teen-cream inciter Richard Grieco as a streetwise stud doing detective work for a big corporation — we’re talking hunk outta water here. Fox is launching the show in Jump Street‘s original Sunday-night slot (Jump Street moves to Monday night), giving it almost a sure shot at being a hit among teenage girls.

The other drama is the season’s only sci-fi effort, Alien Nation, based on that futuristic movie everyone remembers (?) about two cops, one human and one alien, trying to get along (let’s hope they like doughnuts on other planets).

The two new half-hours are — drum-roll, please — Open House and Totally Hidden Video. Open House is a sitcom masterminded by the same geniuses behind the wacky Fox hit Duet. Duet, of course, has been canceled, proving that you don’t have to work for one of the three big networks to succeed by failing.

Totally Hidden Video, a Candid Camera ripoff, has the distinction of being the new season’s most controversial show. The first episode had to be reshot when it was discovered that actors had been hired to play unsuspecting schlubs doing embarrassing things for our amusement. We are now assured that the unsuspecting schlubs are all genuine, but that hasn’t stopped Candid Camera‘s Alan Funt from suing the show for stealing his incredibly original idea of eavesdropping on people and laughing at them.

In the première shows, drive-in-restaurant customers have their orders mixed up (Ho ho! And he really ordered a cheeseburger!) and job applicants are greeted by a talking parrot (Hee hee! They think that bird’s really talking!). Another prank involved a fake Canadian border set up in the middle of California. Motorists were stopped and forced to salute the Canadian flag and make funny faces. Most of the genuinely unsuspecting schlubs were good sports, but one Asian family looked completely terrified while they were submitted to this entertaining form of brain torture (We’re the Khmer Rouge! No — just kidding! Haw haw!). Totally Hidden Video has already won Fox a 20 share of the audience on Sunday night, the highest ever for a Fox program. Quality wins every time! Go, Fox, go!

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