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PAX TV readies for first full season here

Sunday, September 15, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Pax TV begins its first full season available to cable subscribers in Pittsburgh this fall.

The broadcast network doesn't have a local station, but it is carried on most AT&T and some Adelphia cable systems (see cable conversion chart on page 3). Pax TV has long been available to local Dish Network (Channel 181) and DirecTV (Channel 255) satellite subscribers, but DirecTV and Pax are in a spat and DirecTV is scheduled to drop the channel's national feed Sept. 26.

Pax TV went on the air in August 1998 as a network of stations cobbled together by Home Shopping Network co-founder Lowell "Bud" Paxson. Much of Pax TV's prime-time schedule was reruns of older shows when the network began, but now the emphasis is on premiering original series and movies.

"We're going to have 10 original hours [this season]," said Pax president Jeff Sagansky. "So if you were on a UPN or Fox [station], it would be a Monday through Friday for two hours. And next year we'll probably be up to 12 to 14 hours of original programming."

"Diagnosis Murder" reruns continue to air at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, but "Touched by an Angel" will move to Hallmark Channel beginning tomorrow. Three new dramas join Pax's most popular returning drama, "Doc." Here's a first glance at Pax's new fall series:

"Just Cause" (9 p.m. Tuesday): Alex DeMonaco (Elizabeth Lackey), a single mom who was imprisoned for a crime she didn't commit, earned a law degree via the Internet and now she's out on parole, searching for her daughter, who was taken by Alex's corrupt lawyer husband. Alex badgers attorney Hamilton Whitney (Richard Thomas) into giving her a job at his firm. Lackey, who looks a little like Katie Holmes, doesn't have a consistent accent (she's Australian), which the script gamely but ineffectively tries to explain away as a quirk of her upbringing. The show's mix of mystery, legal drama and female empowerment isn't entirely original, but it may well appeal to Pax's core audience of older viewers. (Previews tonight at 9)

"Body & Soul" (9 p.m. Monday): More intriguing than the new medical dramas on ABC or CBS, Pax's "Body & Soul" is an odd duck. Sometimes it's comedic, sometimes it's dramatic, and when a lead character appears to acquire paranormal powers, it's just plain weird. Newcomer Larissa Laskin plays a doctor with a taste for complementary medicine who clashes with her mentor, the ultra-traditional Dr. Isaac Braun (a shouting, scenery chewing Peter Strauss). The show frequently doesn't make sense, but at least it's not predictable. (Tomorrow)

"Sue Thomas, F.B.EYE" (9 p.m. Sunday): Based on the true story of Sue Thomas, a deaf woman who worked for the FBI reading lips, the series stars deaf actress Deanne Bray. "Sue Thomas" is from the producers of Pax's "Doc" and also features Levi, the lead character's hearing dog. Not available for review. (Oct. 13)

Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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