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What’s new for TV’s midseason?

‘Swimsuit Model Search,’ ‘Committed’ among new shows
/ Source: The Associated Press

As in most TV seasons, the networks’ 2004 fall feast was served and largely rejected by viewers. Now the networks are hastily laying out the next course.

What’s on the menu?

“The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search” (8 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC) aims to whet appetites, at least among the male demo.

The new reality show “Wickedly Perfect” (8 p.m Thursdays on CBS) pits 12 rivals in a battle cooking tasty things, along with waging war in other lifestyles challenges.

But “The Will” (premiering 8 p.m. Saturday on CBS) presents a wealthy, 73-year-old rancher looking to name someone to inherit his large Kansas spread. The pack of 10 friends and family members who compete for the honor — and what a scuzzy and/or silicone-enhanced crowd they are! — could make you lose your appetite.

Fortunately, there are more appealing items on the TV bill of fare.

“Committed,” a new romantic sitcom on NBC, pairs a happy-go-lucky young woman (Jennifer Finnigan) with a new boyfriend who’s highly phobic (Josh Cooke).

The funny twist for this show (9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays): These Manhattanites both appear to be quite mad, which makes them made for each other.

Nate, a genius, keeps his demons at bay by being a committed underachiever: He works as a clerk at a Greenwich Village record store.

“Every day I don’t exercise my potential is another day I’m cheating destiny,” he boasts.

Meanwhile, Marni’s sublet came complete with an aged clown (Tom Poston) who resides in a walk-in closet. No problem. “Everyone,” she reasons, “has clowns in their closet.”

Most everyone also has a little of the devil — but not like Christina Nickson, the winsome teen whose parents are a mortal woman and the devil himself. She’s the heroine of a new Fox drama, “Point Pleasant,” which, premiering 9 p.m. Jan. 19, might be described as the spawn of “The O.C.” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

An exercise in teen-scream hokum, “Point Pleasant” is named for the small but oversexed New Jersey seaside town where Christina (Elisabeth Harnois) makes her dramatic arrival and, however inadvertently, proceeds to raise hell.

Looks like there’ll be a fight for Christina’s soul. But why not just call it a draw and skip this show?

‘Jonny Zero,’ ‘Medium,’ ‘Numb3rs’A better bet from Fox is its slick new action drama “Jonny Zero,” premiering 9 p.m. Jan. 14.

Franky G plays an ex-con who, just released from jail, wants to go straight on New York’s mean streets. But this former bouncer is torn between the pressures inflicted by his old boss, a corrupt club owner who wants him back in the fold, and by feds demanding that Jonny spy for them.

Meanwhile, Jonny, buff and with a heart of gold, finds himself drawn in to the problems of ordinary people. He just can’t resist trying to help. But for his trouble, he often gets himself roughed up: think “The Rockford Files” with a hip-hop beat.

Also featuring an actor named GQ as Jonny’s goofy sidekick Random (a white street kid with a P. Diddy complex) “Jonny Zero” is midseason’s coolest entry.

Neither cool nor hot is the all-too-aptly named “Medium,” an NBC drama that premiered this week and airs 10 p.m. Mondays.

In the starring role of Allison DuBois — a wife, mother and law student — Patricia Arquette is affecting as she tries to cope with her disturbing psychic gifts. But the pilot episode, at least, was labored by pedestrian writing, and by production devices already overtaxed by other crime-procedural dramas: visions of incidents that happened before; spectral figures visible only to Allison (and the viewer).

In fact, “Medium” is most notable for how it contrasts unfavorably with an upcoming series, CBS’ “Numb3rs,” which premieres in late January.

Where “Medium” relies on a tormented savant who traffics in instinct, “Numb3rs” relies on an unshakable faith in cool-headed logic.

That is provided by the math-genius brother (David Krumholtz) of FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow), who uses crime cases as a way to demonstrate how math can explain, and even predict, human misbehavior.

“It’s all about numbers,” says Charlie confidently, and it usually is, which means the pilot episode clicks along with mathlike precision.

Few would argue that the schedule needed another crime procedural, but “Numb3rs” ventures even further into the brainy detachment that makes Gil Grissom so engrossing on “CSI.” With Charlie, crime isn’t a problem solved by evidence, it’s a numerical puzzle.

As a fascinating drama, “Numb3rs” adds up.