True to its promise to launch new TV shows the moment all the Olympic medals were counted, NBC premieres two more series this week -- including the much-anticipated "Friends" spinoff "Joey," which is actually worth plopping down on the couch for.

Fox, never the network to be left behind, also has new fare: "The Next Great Champ" with Oscar De La Hoya airs on Friday at 9 p.m. Unfortunately, Fox didn't give a sneak peek at the reality boxing show that sparked a battle of the networks, with NBC accusing Fox of stealing the idea for a show that pits fighters against each other in the ring.

Here's some info on the shows that were available to see, with more previews to roll out as September rolls on. Stay tuned.


Debuts and airs: Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC

The tagline you'll never see: I'm NBC's best friend -- and last hope!

The basics: Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) leaves the Big Apple and heads to the land of the stars, fully expecting to become one. But when his role as blood-lovin' cop falls through -- and he turns down a male nurse role on a show that becomes a big hit -- he gets a bit flummoxed about life. Luckily, his spunky sister, Gina (Drea de Matteo), and her brainiac son, Michael (Paulo Costanzo), are there for him, along with his loud-mouthed agent (Jennifer Coolidge). But the family support gets put to the test when Michael decides to ditch Mom and move in with his cool Uncle Joey.

The lowdown: The character chemistry is there -- and might even be strong enough to win this key time slot for NBC. The show's three executive producers hail from the "Friends" family and know how to play up Joey's appealing silliness. De Matteo clearly enjoys doing comedy after being beaten so many times on "The Sopranos." And Costanzo ("Road Trip," "40 Days and 40 Nights") is totally believable as Joey's naive nephew. What remains to be seen is how the recasted role of Joey's married neighbor, now played by Andrea Anders, changes the mix.

Reality check: Like "Frasier," this could be The One Where Joey Finds Spinoff Success. But too many sophomoric sex jokes can turn off fans who liked the funny "Friends."

"Medical Investigation"

Debuts: Thursday at 10 p.m. on NBC

Airs: Fridays at 10 p.m.

The tagline you'll never see: It's "CSI" but with diseases!

The basics: Proving there's no government agency the networks don't find fascinating, this medical team from a fictional version of the National Institutes of Health saves lives by investigating outbreaks of viruses and other icky infections. Led by the stoic Dr. Stephen Connor (Neal McDonough), the mobile medical team has thermometers, microscopes and high-tech labs -- and are not afraid to use them. In the pilot, people are turning blue and dying after eating at a local restaurant. Like Gil Grissom and his team on "CSI," this show uses camera angles and other film tricks to help Connor discover the pesky culprit of the Smurf syndrome.

The lowdown: The stars of "Medical Investigation" could form a support group for actors burned by the hazards of the biz. Kelli Williams was let go from "The Practice" in a shake-up two seasons ago. McDonough ("Boomtown"), Christopher Gorham ("Jake 2.0"), and Anna Belknap ("The Handler") all starred in series that were quickly canceled last season. All of these actors are worthy of prime-time success (especially McDonough). But can they find it on Friday night?

Reality check: The show can get a little hokey. Case in point: A helicopter swoops down to fetch Dr. Connor, but not before he doles out a bit of sage advice to his son struggling on the ball field.

Returning Series


* North Shore, 8 p.m. on Fox


* That '70s Show, 8 p.m. on Fox

* Quintuplets, 8:30 p.m. on Fox

* Ther Bernie Mac Show, 9 p.m. on Fox

* Method & Red, 9:30 p.m. on Fox


* The Apprentice, 8:30 p.m. on NBC


* Cops, 8 p.m. on Fox

* America's Most Wanted Fights Back, 9 p.m. on Fox