The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Saturday, September 10, 1994           TAG: 9409070081
                                             LENGTH: Long  :  115 lines


HAL LINDEN is one smart dude who knows what primetime television is all about.

``People either want you in their living rooms or they don't.''

Linden uttered those words of wisdom at a recent gathering of TV writers who had come to Los Angeles to hear Linden and his co-star, Suzanne Pleshette, talk about their new sitcom on CBS, ``The Boys are Back.''

You'll be able to get a look at ``The Boys are Back'' on Sunday at 8 p.m. before the series rolls out in its regular time period on Wednesday at 8 - this week with back-to-back episodes.

It is one of 10 new shows to premiere in the week ahead including two you should check out:

``Under Suspicion,'' a film noir-ish CBS show on Friday at 9 about a female detective who is harassed as she tries to do her job.

``Sweet Justice,'' an NBC drama that has a sneak preview Thursday at 10 before settling into a Saturday night run on Sept. 24. Melissa Gilbert and Cicely Tyson play idealistic lawyers in the deep South.

Linden and Pleshette return to series TV in a show about kids who move out, then move back in when times get tough. ``It's a situation that many parents have lived through including me. It's a traditional family sitcom with parents and children, only this time the children are adults,'' said Linden.

Linden with ``Barney Miller'' and Pleshette with ``The Bob Newhart Show'' have been in shows which viewers watched in droves and watched religiously. That is when people wanted them in their living rooms, to borrow a line from Linden. Both actors have known a time or two when they weren't welcome by the masses - when Linden was in ``Blacke's Magic'' and ``Jack's Place,'' for instance, and Pleshette in ``Nightingales'' and ``Suzanne Pleshette is Maggie Briggs.''

Why did Linden and Pleshette click in one series and not in others?

``The shows that lasted had quality scripts and a certain chemistry between the actors. You can control the scripts to a degree, but that chemistry is there or it isn't,'' said Linden. He and Pleshette feel that chemistry thing is present in ``The Boys are Back.''

Mini-review of ``The Boys are Back'': Linden and Pleshette still ooze charm, but the supporting cast is blah. It's as good as any new sitcom on TV this year, but that isn't saying much.

Ten new shows in the days to come! Wow! But that's not all the goodies awaiting channel surfers in September. A&E highlights

It was about six months ago when Ian McShane, star of A&E's ``Lovejoy'' series showed up in North Carolina to do a show about Lovejoy's American relatives and how they are tied up in solving the Lost Colony mystery. That special, ``Lovejoy: The Lost Colony,'' will be on cable Sunday at 8 p.m. as the A&E channel begins its fall season of programming.

Sir John Gielgud, Ken Kercheval, Barbara Barrie and Kate Vernon join McShane in rattling around Wilmington, N.C., hinting that they may have solved the mystery of the British colonists who disappeared without a trace in the 16th century. Need I say they don't come close to untangling the mystery?

A&E's new season of ``Biography'' continues at 8 p.m. Monday with a study of the Roman Catholic Church, ``John Paul II: Statesman of Faith.'' Also scheduled next week are biographies of Mike Tyson, Bette Davis and Gilda Radner.

On Wednesday at 10 p.m., A&E revives a great old CBS documentary series, ``Twentieth Century'' with Mike Wallace. First up is ``The Shah of Iran and the Iranian Hostage Crisis.''

And right in time for the Miss America pageant, A&E presents ``Beauty Pageants: Bright Lights, Big Business'' on Thursday at 9 p.m. A&E host Jack Perkins promises to look into the lighter side of this flesh on parade. Women's work

Now let's get serious about women and what they do.

Mary Alice Williams has joined Lifetime for a project called ``Picture What Women Do,'' which will be on cable Tuesday night at 9. Williams, who was a star on the rise at CNN and NBC before she decided to slow down and raise a family, pulled herself away the twins long enough to do this special for Lifetime. It's about women being overwhelmed by their everyday lives - women like you, perhaps.

``We have become a generation of exhausted overachievers,'' said Williams when she met TV reporters in Los Angeles not long ago. ``That is what this program is about. Women, no matter what walk of life they are involved in, share common ground. They do laundry. This is about women who want somebody to share the responsibility of the mundane, mind-numbing chores at home.'' Football history

With pro football back in the lives of couch potatoes, who needs baseball? Baseball strike? What baseball strike? TNT reminds viewers of the past glory of the National Football League on Tuesday at 8 with a special, ``75 Seasons: The Story of The National Football League.'' Seventy five years ago, George Halas and three other men met in an auto showroom in Canton, Ohio, and kicked in $100 apiece to start a professional football league. The first NFL game on TV? It was in 1939 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn when the Dodgers (yes, there was a pro football team with that name, too) met the Philadelphia Eagles. Elsewhere on TV

Heads up for Cox Cable subscribers: The cable company signs on with a free HBO preview today and Sunday on Channel 4. .

Tonight at 9, Rachel Ward begins hosting a series on Lifetime guaranteed to make you feel warm all over. ``In the Name of Love'' is about the sacrifices people make for love. . . Here is what new parents have been waiting for: A marathon on The Learning Channel featuring six episodes of ``A Baby's World.'' It starts Sunday at 8 p.m. . . .Shades of ``Shangri La.'' On Sunday at 9 p.m., The Discovery Channel puts on a special about a remote kingdom high up in the Himalayas, ``Mustang: The Hidden Kingdom,'' hosted by Harrison Ford. . . The unsung heroes of World War II were the men and women who helped to break the Axis codes and gave the Allies the edge in many battles. On PBS Tuesday night at 8, see how well they did their jobs on ``Nova: Codebreakers''. . . And finally, a reminder for all you followers of ``The X-Files'' on Fox. Agents Mulder and Scully return for a new season Friday night at 9. ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Hal Linden and Suzanne Pleshette play parents of adult children in

``The Boys Are Back,'' premiering Sunday night at 8 on CBS. Its

regular slot is Wednesdays at 8 p.m. by CNB