The New Television Season

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The new fall television season has been anounced.  Surprisingly, many of
the new shows have cognitive psychology themes.  We will meet Friday, June
5, 1998 at 4:00 (Charlie's) to celebrate Hollywood's acceptance and
validation of our field of science.  Reviews of the shows follow:

Fantasy Island of Neuroscience
CBS, Saturday 8:00 p.m.   ****
	Alfonso Caramazza hosts this "make-my-dream-come-true" show where
behavioral researchers and washed-up Hollywood personalities come to a
tropical paradise and get their dreams fulfilled, albeit sometimes in a
way they don't expect. The general plotline usually climaxes with the
neural localization of a psychological behavior.  The pilot episode guest
stars Irv Biederman (USC), Nancy McKeon (Facts of Life), and Paul Hamilton
(Michigan).  Biederman comes to FIoN looking for the Geon Area of the
Brain--and localizes it in the cerebellum.  McKeon plays a single mother,
looking for the scientific solution to her child's (played by Webster's
Emmanuel Lewis) reading difficulty, while Hamilton is on vacation looking
for love.  In a masterful twist of plots, neuroscience, magic, and love
mingle to form a potion that gets Hamilton a Ph.D, McKeon a new man,
and everybody the fantasy they deserve.

Fox, Sunday, 10:00 pm.  ***.

	This show centers on the fast-paced, exciting world of the ERP
suite.  The tenured faculty, the young idealistic post-docs, cutthroat
graduate students, and the undergraduate RAs form an ensemble cast that
takes a hard look into today's neuroscience.  In the pilot episode, senior
faculty members Helen Neville and M.G.H. Coles are in a bitter power
struggle for control of "The University"'s neuroscience program.
Meanwhile, a young undergraduate R.A. gets romantically involved with a
subject, threatening to undermine over 500 mb of data.  Young grad student
Fencsik attempts to cover up his left-handedness and early knowledge
of Hungarian, in an attempt to become a subject and foil Dr. Gehring's
future tenure.  This is a fresh, raw look at the science, politics, and
romance of psychology. 

Ann and Dan.  The New Adventures of the SuperCouple.
ABC, Wednesday, 8:00 pm.  ****.

	This follows the life of legendary married superheroes Ann
Treisman and Daniel Kahneman.  While they are not fighting crime and
saving orphaned children from certain death, they secretly don spandex and
capes and become University scientists.  In this romantic-comedy-action
series, We find out how X-ray vision helps with visual "pop-out"; how
super-human strength can overpower the availability heuristic; and how the
couple's kryptonite--a shared pool of processing resources--can be
manipulated by villains to render them helpless.  

Suddenly Alan
NBC, Thursday, 8:30.  **

	 NBC's executives successfully launched Brook Shield's comedy
career with the hit sitcom "Suddenly Susan", and are attempting to use the
same formula to launch Alan Baddeley's.  The show mixes the a
"Must-See TV"  style with a healthy, nostalgic dose of "The Wonder Years". 
Set in the mid-60's, at the dawn of the Cognitive Revolution, the pilot
episode shows a young Baddeley getting his first job, falling in love,
coming up with lists of words, and his inner struggles with his own
Central Executive.  Starring as the young Baddeley is "The Fresh Prince of
Bel-Air"'s Will Smith, who performs the show's theme that he composed
himself. This song, entitled "Phonemic Similarity" has an entrancing
chorus where Smith raps "Bishop-wicket-phallic--wiggle-pewter-pectin".
Surprisingly, Smith plays a believable cognitive scientist, although
expect the the British accent and the laugh track to disappear before the
regular season.

NBC, Thursday 9:00.  * 1/2.

	In what network executives hope to be the heir to Sienfeld, this
new show follows the antics of four mysanthropes around their Big Ten
college town and exurban surroundings.  The show centers on how Dan Horn,
a witty graduate student, comes up with the material for his incisive and
unique observations about the world.  Other characters include Dan's two
office-mates:  Shane, a self-defeating, unemployable stooge; and Beth,
whose clever mix of charm and neuroses is sure to keep them talking at the
water cooler; and Anat, their across-the-hall neighbor who provides
slapstick relief when the comedy gets too cerebral, often by bursting into
the office without knocking. In the pilot episode, Dan and Shane hatch a
scheme to become wealthy by taking advantage of the gambler's fallacy at
the casinos in nearby Windsor, Ontario.  Meanwhile, Anat finds herself on
a date with a Gambling Commission Inspector, and learns of an impending
sting--on her two friends.  Only Beth's quick thinking and good looks
extract the trio from imprisonment in Canada. 


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