Finally, we've come to the tail end of the networks' big fall rollout. And if you haven't found that one terrific show that ties you to the tube, don't despair. Several of this week's programs might fill the void.

ABC brings fresh faces and even fresher story lines to TV with "life as we know it" and "Desperate Housewives." Familiar faces also return: William Shatner and James Spader star in ABC's "Boston Legal" (see Page 7), while much of the "Whose Line Is It?" crew is back for the WB's "Drew Carey's Green Screen Show."

Whose turn is it to succeed? Read on to find out.

"Desperate Housewives"

Airs: Sundays at 9 p.m. on ABC

The tagline you'll never see: This dishy soap will leave you desperate for more!

The basics: Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) is dead. But from the beyond she narrates this glimpse into the lives of her seemingly perfect friends on her immaculately manicured suburban street. There's Susan (Teri Hatcher), a divorced single mom with the hots for her new neighbor. Lynette (Felicity Huffman), a former power woman turned frazzled mother of four. Bree (Marcia Cross), a wannabe Martha Stewart with more than a few sharp edges. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria), an ex-model who has it all -- including a tawdry affair with the yard boy. And Edie (Nicollette Sheridan), who's more source of gossip and competition than a real friend. Mary Alice's suicide unites the women as they shed new light on secrets she hoped to carry to her grave.

The lowdown: The biggest question mark will be how the alphabet network treats this gem. ABC has a bit of a reputation for abandoning quality shows, but perhaps the new blood in its executive ranks has learned from previous mistakes. The show also faces stiff competition against NBC's "Law & Order: CI" and the WB's "Jack & Bobby."

Reality check: "Desperate Housewives" is an ensemble cast of great actresses who've starred on successful series before. Their polish and poise is evident in this spectacular show, which smoothly shifts from frivolous moments to dark ones. Creator Marc Cherry is used to working with groups of female actresses -- including the motley cast of "The Golden Girls."

"Drew Carey's

Green Screen Show"

Airs: Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on the WB

The tagline you'll never see: It's "Whose Line Is It Anyway? Version 2.0"

The basics: Bespectacled comedian Drew Carey is always searching for ways to tickle viewers' funny bones. Combining improv with animation, he's now taking "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" to the next level. Carey and his regular cohorts -- Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Jeff Davis, Chip Esten, Jonathan Mangum, Julie Larson, Sean Masterson, and Kathy Kinney (Mimi on "The Drew Carey Show") -- act out ideas suggested by an audience in front of a green screen. Then animators, inspired by the action, step in and draw outfits, props and backgrounds. If all goes right, hilarity ensues.

The lowdown: There was a time when Carey was the darling of ABC, but his former hits had finales with little fanfare. Despite those disappointments, the upbeat Carey is so committed to his new show that he dyed his hair green during the press tour for TV critics.

Reality check: Only clips of the show were available at press time. Although quite funny, it remains to be seen whether this show can tap into the audience that misses "Whose Line."

"life as we know it"

Airs: Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC

The tagline you'll never see: It's "My So-Called Life" with a lot more sex!

The basics: In this quirky, sexually promiscuous coming-of-age series, big-man-on-campus Dino (Sean Faris) and his less-lucky-with-the-ladies pals Ben (Jon Foster) and Jonathan (Chris Lowell) hang with Deborah (Kelly Osbourne) and Jackie (Missy Peregrym). Dino's world is shattered when he finds out his loving parents' (D.B. Sweeney and Lisa Darr) marriage isn't as perfect as it seems. Ben has a crush on his teacher Ms. Young (Marguerite Moreau) and it appears to be reciprocated. Because that happens all the time.

The lowdown: Yet another good hour from the low-rated network. But up against "CSI" on CBS and "The Apprentice" on NBC, life as this series knows it may be over before it begins. Executive producers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah hit greatness before with "Freaks & Geeks" and only a few devoted fans noticed.

Reality check: Remember what a big deal it was when Brenda slept with Dylan on "Beverly Hills, 90210"? Those were the days. Now, television series run the gamut from ignoring the topic to having teenagers bed-hop a la "Melrose Place." On "life as we know it," sex is treated realistically and honestly. And Osbourne is bleeping great as the independent teenager with a crush on Jonathan.

Returning Series


* Cold Case: 8 p.m. on CBS


* Star Trek: Enterprise: 8 p.m. on UPN