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Big six overview: WB

Frisky Frog leaps to get fall's last laugh

With five new laffers scheduled to debut — more than any other network — the Frog wants to get into the yuks business in a big way.

The benefits are clear: Comedies repeat better than hourlong skeins. The WB’s drama-heavy schedule has been a liability whenever the net goes into repeats.

That doesn’t mean the dramas are going away. The net’s best new bet is actually its only new hourlong entry, the tale of the young Superman, “Smallville.”

“It’s their best dramatic show in a while,” says Paul Schulman, president of Advanswers PHD’s New York office.

Nonetheless, the WB is most focused on relaunching its Friday night and Sunday night comedy blocks.

“I’m really happy with the comedies we had in development,” says WB Entertainment prexy Jordan Levin.

On Friday, the weblet hopes to re-create ABC’s famed TGIF lineup of young-skewing comedies. With the Alphabet web out of the teeny-bopper business on the night, WB will use ex-TGIF entry “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” to launch three comedies.

“It’s the smartest idea of the entire schedule,” Schulman says. “They’re going after the TGIF crowd, which has been underserviced since ABC decided

Iit would no longer program in that direction.”

The freshman entries, which include “Maybe It’s Me,” “Reba” and “Raising Dad,” are family comedies with a slightly edgy bent. By the end of “Reba’s” pilot episode, for example, the show’s teenage daughter discovers she’s pregnant.

The WB will stress a young-adult tone with its Sunday comedies. Sandwiched between returning skeins “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Nikki” are new sex-obsessed comedies “Men, Women and Dogs” and “Off Centre.”

The night kicks off with a wheel of reality programs, including TNT import “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and Ford Motor Co. tie-in “No Boundaries.” “Ripley’s” stepped into the slot after ATG couldn’t deliver reality show “Lost in the USA.”

“Sunday night will be difficult for the WB,” Schulman says. “It’s a mixture of shows that don’t necessarily go together. Some may wash out, some will work.”

Then there’s the “Buffy” factor — or lack thereof. The WB launches its new fall season without the support of one of its key drama players.

“7th Heaven” and “Angel” are an unlikely pairing Monday nights, but the least likely shows have been the most likely to work after “7th.”

The net’s New Tuesday block lives up to its name this years “Gilmore Girls” moves to a new night, followed by “Smallville.” And then there’s Wednesday — the net’s only night that remains intact from last season — where “Dawson’s Creek” and “Felicity” return.

“Another benefit we never had before in rolling out our schedule is the power of AOL and the power of Turner,” Levin says.

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