It's summer, the time when TV executives wreak havoc with their schedules. In a sea of repeats, they move shows around, pull out fresh episodes of canceled series, and sometimes give a new one a try. And not all summer series are fluff. CBS's "Northern Exposure" started this way. And last week, NBC aired the first two episodes of Robert Conrad's "High Sierra Search and Rescue," airing Wednesdays at 8 through July 26. The series is based on an actual volunteer rescue team in Bear Valley, Calif., Conrad's home. In this picturesque town in the Sierra Nevada mountains, said Conrad, "There is no 911. No medevac, no doctor, no anything. The medevac comes in after the search-and-rescue people are there." Based on Conrad's experience as a part-time volunteer rescuer in the '70s, the series was developed from a 1994 television movie. It's family fare about the people who interrupt their days and nights to save tourists and townsfolk, be it by horseback, rope, raft or helicopter. Conrad, now 60, plays helicopter pilot Tooter Campbell. Doesn't this sound familiar? Let's see: Conrad played flying ace Pappy Boyington in "Baa Baa Black Sheep" in the '70s. No, that's not it. He was agent James T. West in the '60s series "The Wild Wild West," and trapper Pasquinel in "Centennial" in 1978. Hmm. Aha. Conrad made a very similar adventure series with sons Shane and Christian in 1988. " High Mountain Rangers' was designed to be Chippendales on skis -- it was the Baywatch' of the '80s," said Conrad. "It was fictionalized. There is no High Mountain Rangers anywhere, never has been." This new series is different, he added. " Search and Rescue' is a real search-and-rescue team. These are real people." And he knows many of the Bear Valley volunteers by name. "They have a really successful rescue record because they live in the element," he said. Conrad was one of those successes. "When I was lost in February of '87 in a storm, 22 rescuers went looking for me. And I made it. I found a cabin and broke in. They found me the next day huddled with no heat, but okay," he said. As is Conrad's custom, "High Sierra" is a family affair. He lives in the Bear Valley area with his second wife, cast member LaVelda Fann, and three youngest daughters. Son Shane and daughter Joan Conrad Erwin (two of his five children from his marriage to Joan Kenley) produce the show. Chris Abbott ("Magnum, P.I") is also a producer. In early May, Conrad described the snow he could see out his window, some of which he had just shoveled. Bear Valley had just struggled through a rough winter, one nearly as harsh as 1983. "We had 40 feet measured here in 1983. I think we got in excess of 30 this year," he said. The heavy snowfall forced the producers to limit the show's shooting schedule. "We quit December 12, after the weather made things dangerous," he said. "High Sierra's" cast is designed to appeal to all ages, and includes Dee Wallace Stone, Alistair MacDougall, Brittney Powell, Ramon Franco and Jason Lewis. Although stunt people were used, Conrad described how his actors' courage grew with his encouragement. "We have a beautiful young lady, Brittney Powell, who doesn't like cold water. In one episode we do a water rescue in a raft and she was reluctant to go. They stood by with a photo double. But she was in the front." Conrad believes the teamwork helped. "It's the esprit de corps," he said. The actors initially were nervous but became more confident with the physical stunts, Conrad said, and didn't want to be upstaged by their doubles. "They choose this profession, which is highly competitive, and they're competitive by nature. Some end up presidents and politicians and so forth, so they won't fold on you." But, he added, "I didn't put them at risk." Alistair MacDougall, who plays Sheriff Ty Cooper, hesitated to rappel down a rocky cliff. Conrad was willing to let him off. "I told him You don't have to do this -- this is make believe.' " Eventually MacDougall, an Australian, scaled the cliff, and then thanked Conrad afterward. Although the show is scheduled for a summer run only, Conrad hopes viewers will find it opposite reruns of ABC's "Roseanne." "I'm a man who's been opposite Happy Days,' Roots,' Charlie's Angels.' I'm no stranger to competition," he said. "High Sierra" is a family-oriented piece, Conrad added, and he hopes it will work. But if not he won't take it personally. "You take your best show and when it works, great, and when it doesn't work, you just shrug your shoulders." Meanwhile, he has plenty to do at home. "I'm bonding with these three kids. I'm teaching them the Lord's Prayer." Now, with his second brood, Conrad said he enjoys having a '90s wife. Even if it means doing household chores. "I'm Mr. Mom," he said. "It's not a kinder, gentler Robert Conrad. It's a more mature Robert Conrad." Recently, when he ran a load of the family's laundry, a small bag of loose items got caught in the motor and started a fire, with plenty of smoke. Who responded to the smoke signals? The Bear Valley search-and-rescue personnel. CAPTION: Jason Lewis, Ramon Franco, Robert Conrad, Alistair MacDougall, LaVelda Fann and Dee Wallace Stone in NBC's "High Sierra Search and Rescue." CAPTION: Conrad as Pappy Boyington in "Baa-Baa Black Sheep."