There's this fireman, and his wife dies, and he's left to raise four kids on his own, except his father-in-law moves in to help out and then -- HELLO? HELLO? IS ANYBODY THERE????

You do want to hear about the new CBS sitcom "The Family Man," DON'T YOU? It premieres at 8:30 tonight on Channel 9 but will normally air Saturdays at 8 starting Sept. 15. Beady-eyed Gregory Harrison plays the fireman, Jack Taylor, whose dear wife Teresa went bye-bye in a car crash. Now it's up to Jack to raise Jeff and Steve and Brian and Allison.

Yes, television, even more than history, repeats itself, and here we have "My Three Sons -- And One Daughter," even down to the detail of jolly Joe the father-in-law, who is to this brood what crusty Bub (later Uncle Charley) was to Fred MacMurray and clan. The part is played by zucchini-beaked Al Molinaro, whose time would be better spent staying home and toting up those delicious residuals from "Happy Days."

Harrison -- like Rick Rossovich in the forthcoming (and even more dreadful) "Sons and Daughters" -- seems too young to be the father of a 16-year-old, and besides projecting zero credibility, he projects sub-zero warmth. The kids are the usual collection of cookie-cutter cutie-kins, though easy winners if there were a world cup for whining.

Steve can't find his socks. Little Allison wants French braids in her hair. And Jeff complains that there are no blueberries in the pancakes. And why are there no blueberries in the pancakes? Because Uncle Joe got up in the middle of the night and ate them!!! Couldn't you just die?

You are still there, aren't you?

Before the show winds down, the old closet gag from "Fibber McGee and Molly" is revived, and the obligatory Tender Moment occurs when Brian, 11, hugs his dad and cries at Mommy's graveside. Please.

It's hard to believe this poor imitation of a Miller & Boyett sitcom was in fact produced by Miller & Boyett -- Tom and Bob, the team responsible for those easygoing hits "Full House" and "Family Matters" on ABC. Clearly they save their better ideas for that network.

And now in the remaining space, a few theories about mass media in modern society. First of all, the question of -- HELLO? HELLO? WHERE'D EVERYBODY GO?????