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''Commander in Chief'' Comes Back -- But ...

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 29, 2006

           For weeks, ABC has had the return of ''Commander in Chief'' scheduled for April 18. Now it will be back sooner than expected, according to this ABC announcement today:

“Commander In Chief” makes its return to the ABC schedule beginning THURSDAY, APRIL 13 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET). In the interim, the ABC newsmagazine “Primetime” will air on FRIDAYS, APRIL 14 & 21 and MAY 5 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET). “Primetime” will return to its regular scheduled time period THURSDAY, MAY 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET). “Less than Perfect” returns TUESDAY, APRIL 18 (9:30-10:00 p.m., ET), along with an additional episode of “Hope & Faith” (9:00-9:30 p.m., ET).

The ABC primetime schedule for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays will be as follows:

Beginning Thursday, April 13

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- After the Storm” 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET

                        “American Inventor” 9:00-10:01 p.m., ET

                        “Commander In Chief” 10:01-11:00 p.m., ET

            Beginning Friday, April 14

                        “America’s Funniest Home Videos” 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET

                        “Primetime” 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET (April 14, 21 and May 5 only)

                        “20/20” 10:00-11:00 p.m., ET

Beginning Tuesday, April 18

                        “According to Jim” 8:00-8:30 p.m., ET

“Hope & Faith” 8:30-9:00 p.m., ET

                        “Hope & Faith” 9:00-9:30 p.m., ET

                        “Less than Perfect” 9:30-10:00 p.m., ET

                        “Boston Legal” 10:00-11:00 p.m., ET

(end announcement material)

I'm not sure what to make of this. ''Commander in Chief'' is still well-liked by viewers, judging from the frequent letters I get asking when it will return. So why put it at Thursdays at 10, when it has to compete against ''ER'' and ''Without a Trace''? It could be that ABC is just burning off the show, but I'm not convinced. After all, ''American Inventor'' has shown some promise for the network, and may be a good lead-in to ''CiC.'' ABC may also sense that those ''CiC'' letter-writers will follow the show almost anywhere.

Interesting to see ''Less Than Perfect'' return instead of, say, ''Crumbs,'' which is not scheduled and still has unaired episodes waiting for telecast. I guess ABC thinks the older comedy still has some life.

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