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Another 'Saturday Night Live' spinoff -- and one from 'The Office,' too

Forget Must-See TV -- NBC seems to be rebranding its comedy bloc Thursday Night Live. The fall lineup unveiled by the network Wednesday (NBC has bagged its upfront, the traditional May meeting with advertisers where new programming is previewed) includes not only SNL alum Tina Fey's 30 Rock but a half-hour version SNL's Weekend Update mock newscast that Fey used to write and star in. Both shows will air on Thursday night

The return of 30 Rock, a sitcom set backstage at an SNL-type program, was by no means a sure thing: The show is much-praised and little-watched. But NBC doesn't exactly seem awash in original ideas right now. Its new lineup is heavy on spinoffs, remakes, spare footage of its existing shows, and most anything else the NBC pages could find while rummaging through the dumpsters behind the building.


*an untitled spinoff from The Office, itself a remake of a British show.

*a remake of the 1980s supercar drama Knight Rider.

*an American version of Kath & Kim, an Australian sitcom about the suburbs.

*Most Outrageous Moments, a collection of bloopers from other NBC shows, which in the case of stuff like Knight Rider may be almost indistinguishable from what made it to air.

*Crusoe, based on the Daniel Defoe novel that was a bestseller -- in 1719.

*Merlin, a fantasy series set in Camelot, which was a bestseller about 500 years earlier than that.

*The Philanthropist, a drama about a renegade billionaire who gives money away to people in a jam, which sounds suspiciously like an inflation-adjusted version of the 1955 CBS series The Millionaire, in which an eccentric and perpetually off-screen rich guy named John Beresford Tipton sent million-dollar checks to the unsuspecting.

There were also a handful of slightly less familiar new entries in the NBC lineup, including My Own Worst Enemy, a spy drama starring Christian Slater; Kings, starring Ian McShane, set in a city under siege; The Listener, about a telepathic medic; and a couple of reality shows, Shark Taggers and America's Toughest Jobs.

Returning to the NBC lineup: Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Chuck, My Name Is Earl, Lipstick Jungle, American Gladiators, Life, several hundred versions of Law & Order and -- one last time -- ER. Among the canceled are Bionic Woman, Las Vegas and Journeyman.


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