Tu be or not tu be on CBS

OK, you think of a headline.

ABC, CBS and NBC, no longer invincible forces of lowest-common-denominator banality, fidget helplessly on the cusp of yet another new television season. “Hate” is such an ugly word. “Detest” is too spidery. “Abhor” doesn’t have enough balls to it. I loathe those pompous, greedy network bastards.

The networks cower, carp and copy each other furiously in the faint hope of somehow deflecting the relentless juggernaut that chokes off their cash flow, saps their former power and dilutes their heretofore exclusive control over our collective awareness. But it’s too late. The three major networks’ worst nightmare has become sweet reality, and it’s here to stay: cable television.

New York is pissed, which causes corporate suits to run scared, which causes high-level angst, which causes Prozac to outsell cocaine in Beverly Hills.

Hallelujah. Jubilation. Let’s hear it for comeuppance. I love it.

So let’s see how the self-styled Tiffany Network is fighting back. Here’s a brief pre-cap of the exciting (?) new fall prime-time shows we’ll be seeing on CBS:

TUESDAY, 9-10 p.m. The Guardian. Nick Fallin (Simon Baker), hotshot lawyer at his father’s (Dabney Coleman) hotshot Pittsburgh law firm, gets arrested for hotshot drug use and sentenced to do 1,500 hours of community service while continuing to wear hotshot $2,000 suits and somehow working 24-7 as (yawn) a hotshot lawyer. Sounds sucky, n’est pas?

WEDNESDAY, 9-10 p.m. The Amazing Race. Oh, goody, another reality show. Eleven couples are forced to travel all over the world together for a ho-hum prize of a million clams. Features a cast of … um, lessee … 22. In a burst of desperate cross-promotion, CBS claims this show “picks up where Survivor leaves off.” Let’s hope not.

WEDNESDAY, 10-11 p.m. Wolf Lake. Sci-fi weirdness in timber country. Otherwise furless citizens transform into wolves at the howl of a whoosis. Local lawman (Tim Matheson) and Seattle cop (Lou Diamond Phillips) investigate. And investigate. Hey, look, it’s a love story, too. Woof.

THURSDAY, 8-9 p.m. Survivor: Africa. Seriously sincere I-already-got-my-job Jeff Probst and a brand new merry band of dunderheads violate the Serengeti and Pulau Tiga, which sounds suspiciously like my ex-wife’s street name. Another 16 strangers, another two tribes, another lone Survivor, another million bucks … and they say Hollywood isn’t creative.

THURSDAY, 10-11 p.m. The Agency. OK, look, all I can say is: CIA. If I tell you any more than that, I’ll have to kill you. You understand.

FRIDAY, 8-8:30 p.m. The Ellen Show. It should work and be fun for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s got a superior sitcom cast: Cloris Leachman (Mary Tyler Moore), Martin Mull, Jim Gaffigan and Emily Rutherfurd. Secondly, this is a show where the real writers—Carol Leifer (Seinfeld) and Mitchell Hurwitz (The Golden Girls)—have real producer juice.

FRIDAY, 8:30-9 p.m. Danny. An unexciting premise for a sitcom, but it has the saving grace of Daniel Stern (Home Alone, City Slickers) in the title role. Another asset is producer Howard Morris (Home Improvement). Now if the writing works, and if the cast works, and if the time slot works, and if

SATURDAY, 9-10 p.m. Citizen Baines. A drama about a senator who blew his campaign for a fourth term. This show’s biggest asset is its heavy-hitter producer, John Wells (ER, The West Wing).

SUNDAY, 8-9 p.m. The Education of Max Bickford. It’s got an impressive cast, led by Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, Mr. Holland’s Opus), who plays a widower professor surrounded by women at an all-female college. This one looks very hot.

Best bet among the new prime-time programs on the CBS schedule: The Ellen Show.

Sorry, homophobes.