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Predicting the success of new TV shows has become a time-honored responsibility-and a potential source of pride or embarrassment-for media buyers.

Despite the uncertainty of these predictions, the agency world depends on them to plan ad schedules for next season.

After just an initial look and despite the many schedule changes on the networks -such as CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" being moved to Thursdays-buyers say the new crop of programs looks promising.

"Overall this year, I think the schedule looks pretty good. There are a lot of good shows on the air and it's going to be a close race," says Steve Sternberg, senior VP-director of broadcast research at BJK&E Media Group, New York.

Here's a look at some media mavens' opinions on new shows for the 1995-96 TV season.

"Bless This House" (CBS). This sitcom about a blue-collar family, starringAndrew Clay and Cathy Moriarty, "is something that could develop into a success," says Mr. Sternberg.

"The show seems like it may be good even though Clay is in it. It just may catch on. It is intended to be very noisy in order to attract viewers," says Betsy Frank, exec VP-director of strategic media resources for Zenith Media, a division of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York.

"Caroline in the City" and "The Single Guy" (NBC). Buyers say there's more to these comedies than having good lead-ins. "The Single Guy," about the last single member of a group of married friends, follows "Friends." "Caroline in the City," starring Lea Thompson as a cartoonist in a love triangle with her boss and assistant, follows "Seinfeld."

"Behind `Seinfeld' you can't go wrong," says Frank Campisi, senior VP-national broadcast research at SFM Media Corp., a New York-based media-buying service. "But we also think that's the kind of a show that can work in and of itself in another time period."

Ms. Frank acknowledges these shows' powerful lead-ins but adds, "the two are also good shows and have the talent."

"Murder One" (ABC). On the one hand, there's a lot going for this Steven Bochco drama centering around the murder trial of a celebrity. On the other hand, this show will air against NBC's "E.R."

"It's a fine show but it's up against `E.R.'," Ms. Frank says. "If `Murder One' were in the right time slot, it could be a hit. And it still might."

"We think `Murder One' is a great show and will do very well if they move it," Mr. Campisi says. He postulates ABC could move "Murder One" to Wednesdays or possibly to Mondays, after "Monday Night Football" ends its season.

"Hudson Street" (ABC). This comedy, starring Tony Danza as a New Jersey cop dating a crime reporter, seems promising, buyers say.

"It airs between `Roseanne' and `Home Improvement' and Tony Danza can be a big draw," says Ms. Frank.

"It seems like `Hudson Street' with Tony Danza will do well," Mr. Sternberg says.

"Partners" and "Ned and Stacey" (Fox). Buyers give these two comedies the nod above most other Fox shows. Part of the reason: they air in the hour after "Melrose Place."

"Partners," created by the supervising producers of `Friends,' is about an architect juggling his neurotic best friend and his fiancee, who both want his attention.

"This show as well as `Ned & Stacey' [in which two strong-willed characters enter a marriage of convenience] looked to be the most promising for Fox," Ms. Frank says.

But whether they'll stand out as being different from Fox's typical fare remains to be seen. Fox's shows looked "better than they have in the past but they still looked like Fox," Ms. Frank says.

Of course, not all new shows succeed. Among the programs buyers definitely feel will be flops are:

"The Drew Carey Show" (ABC): Comedian Drew Carey stars in this sitcom of four working-class friends struggling with jobs and love.

"JAG" (NBC): A drama starring David James Elliott who plays a Navy lawyer as well as a jet fighter pilot.

All comedies on ABC on Saturday and CBS on Friday.

"American Gothic" (CBS): A dark drama featuring Gary Cole as a sheriff of a South Carolina town.

As for whether any or all these predictions are trustworthy, ask next year.

According to last year's Advertising Age pre-upfront share estimate survey of ad agency media buyers, only two shows barely cleared a passing grade: NBC's "The Cosby Mysteries" and "Madman of the People." Both have been canceled. The survey also found that "E.R." would lose out to CBS' "Chicago Hope."

Joe Mandese contributed to this story.

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