NEW YORK – The 2001 fall TV season will finally kick off Monday, one week after originally planned and 13 days after the terrorist attacks that shook the nation.
Beginning at 8 p.m., TV viewers will be greeted by familiar sights and sounds as The King of Queens, Weakest Link, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Hughleys and 7th Heaven all make their season debuts.
In that sense, at least, TV will return to a semblance of normalcy after the horrible events of the previous two weeks.
During that time, most networks provided nearly wall-to-wall coverage of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and western Pennsylvania tragedies.
The networks also postponed the start of the season, which had been scheduled for Sept. 17, until Sept. 24 in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
"I think what's going to be different when the season starts is that there's always the strong possibility of pre-emptions for more news coverage," says industry analyst Marc Berman of Mediaweek.com.
"Truthfully, I don't think there will be less viewers — people need to escape from what's been happening," Berman says. "But the networks have lost a lot of promotional time.
"I think that, of any TV genre, reality TV seems to be the least appealing right now," Berman says. "It seems a little frivolous — even Survivor, which was once riveting, doesn't seem to have that same feeling now as opposed to dramas and sitcoms."
CBS's new drama, The Education of Max Bickford, starring Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss, will premiere Sunday night, as originally scheduled.
Another sign of normalcy returning to fall television is the Emmy Awards, which will now air Oct. 7 on CBS with host Ellen DeGeneres. Like everything else on TV, the Emmys were postponed from their original Sept. 16 air date.
But the TV industry feels the time is right to get back to business. A sort of starting-off point for the new season will be tomorrow night's "telethon" sparked by the terror attack.