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The Fall TV Battles: Five Time Slots to Keep an Eye On

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 15th 2010 4:00PM
The Big Bang TheoryIsn't it great to have the fall season here again? Sure, some of the best shows on television air in the summer, like 'Mad Men,' but the fall is where the real action is.

Every new season, the networks, critics and advertisers try to figure out which shows will be hits and which will crash and burn. Sometimes it's easy to predict that a show will fail (um, 'Cavemen'), and sometimes we know that a show will be a hit (another 'CSI' or 'NCIS' spinoff).

A lot of times it comes down to the show's time slot and its competition. Looking over the new fall schedule, some big battles loom this season. Here's an in-depth look at five of them:

1. Thursday at 8PM
'The Big Bang Theory' / '$#*! My Dad Says' (CBS)
'Bones' (Fox)
'Vampire Diaries' (CW)
'My Generation' (ABC)
'Community' / '30 Rock' (NBC)

Why would CBS want to shake up a good thing and take 'The Big Bang Theory' off Monday and ship it over to Thursday? CBS is taking a calculated gamble with this move, believing the sitcom is strong enough to take out of its comfort zone -- the time slot right after 'Two and a Half Men' -- and using it at 8PM Thursdays to start a new night of comedy..

It makes sense, because there isn't exactly a lot of competition in that Thursday slot. Sure, 'Community' has its base -- and that base will likely grow this season -- but it's not a giant "hit" the way that 'The Big Bang Theory' is (and neither is '30 Rock,' for that matter). 'Bones' and 'The Vampire Diaries' don't really attract the same audience, and ABC's 'My Generation' is a new show that hasn't proved itself (and isn't exactly getting rave reviews).

Prediction: 'The Big Bang Theory' will do just fine on Thursday nights. The fate of '$#*! My Dad Says' is up in the air, though never underestimate William Shatner.

The Event2. Monday at 9PM
'The Event'
'Two and a Half Men' / 'Mike & Molly' (CBS)
'Lone Star' (Fox)
'Gossip Girl' (CW)

'Dancing with the Stars (ABC - starts at 8PM)

The big question here: Are TV viewers willing to give yet another conspiracy-laden mythology drama a chance after they've been burned so many times? The sub-question would be: are audiences already tired out by all the promos for 'The Event'? Will people skip the show because it can only be a disappointment after all the hype?

On the other hand, the only real competition is from CBS' 'Two and a Half Men,' and you would think -- you would think! -- that NBC factored that in when they scheduled 'The Event' for Mondays at 9PM.

This seems to be the time slot where NBC puts their sci-fi and/or action dramas. The lead-in for 'The Event' is 'Chuck,' but that hasn't helped in the past, even if 'Chuck' has its devoted fans (myself included). NBC has had a lot of failures on Monday nights, and only time will tell if 'The Event' will be the next 'Lost' or the next 'Bionic Woman.'

Prediction: Viewers will tune in to the premiere of 'The Event' in droves, but the audience will drop little by little the following weeks. But it won't drop enough to the point where NBC will panic. This show is here to stay for at least one season. 'Two and a Half Men' will continue to be a hit, while 'Gossip Girl' will stay the same (or even drop a little) and 'Lone Star' -- one of the best new shows of the season -- will get so-so but not incredible numbers.

Of course, the second half of 'Dancing with the Stars' airs in the 9PM slot, and a few people watch that show, too. It doesn't seem to affect 'Two and a Half Men' but the other shows ...

The Whole Truth3. Wednesday at 10PM
'The Whole Truth' (ABC)
'The Defenders' (CBS)
'Law & Order: Los Angeles'

Somehow, this time slot has become the All-Legal Time Slot. Was this just a fluke or planned that way? They can't all be hits, right?

Prediction: 'Law & Order: Los Angeles' will consistently win the time period. While all of these shows are technically "new," 'L&O: LA' will have audiences coming over from the other shows in the franchise.

It's a coin flip as to how the other series here will fare. 'The Defenders' could be a surprise massive hit, or viewers could look at it and say "there's no way I'm getting involved in a show that stars both Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell."

One of these shows isn't likely to survive, and 'The Whole Truth' seems like the one that will trail behind the others. That prediction has nothing to do with the show's quality. Rather, most viewers will probably be drawn to the quirky goofiness seen in 'The Defenders' promos than the more serious feel of 'The Whole Truth.' Plus the lead-ins for 'The Defenders' are proven hits 'Survivor' and 'Criminal Minds.'

Hawaii Five-04. Monday at 10PM

'Hawaii Five-0' (CBS)
'Chase' (NBC)
'Castle' (ABC)

There's no reason to believe 'Hawaii Five-0' won't be one of the major hits of the new season.

Not only does it have a recognizable name and cache -- and that catchy theme song -- it has a very strong cast and great early reviews. It just feels as if CBS has somehow updated it into a very likable 'CSI'-ish crime drama, only with sun and surf and bikinis: A show that brings with it some aspects of the original but has enough modern tweaks that will really work. The cool promos don't hurt either.

Prediction: 'Hawaii Five-0' easily beats the competition on ABC and NBC -- and Alex O'Loughlin fans can finally stop complaining that he isn't on television. While 'Castle' will always have its fans, 'Chase' doesn't seem like it will catch on, even if star Kelli Giddish is as cute as hell.

Undercovers5. Wednesday at 8PM
'Survivor: Nicaragua' (CBS)
'Undercovers' (NBC)
'Lie to Me' (Fox)
'The Middle'/'Better With You' (ABC)

The reason why 'The Big Bang Theory' can move to Thursday at 8PM is because 'Survivor' is moving to Wednesdays at 8PM. It's always iffy when you move a show that has been in the same time slot for years, but 'Survivor' is still a hit and the network thinks it has an opening on Wednesdays, where the only competition will be a new show and two shows with just OK numbers. It also doesn't hurt that 'Survivor' has aired on Wednesday nights during March Madness.

Prediction: Duh. 'Survivor' grabs the No. 1 spot in the slot. 'Lie to Me' will see its numbers drop off this season, but 'The Middle' should do just fine (can't say the same about 'Better With You' though). 'Undercovers' is one of the big question marks of the season. Will it be exciting and fun and funny and cool or will it get tiresome and predictable every week? The first episode will grab big numbers but it's up in the air after that.

Do you agree with our timeslot predictions?

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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John F.C. Taylor

Well, no real problem with any of these time slots for me. Only show mentioned that I plan on watching is Bones. The other returning shows I've never watched or cared to watch. The new shows may see me tune in if there's nothing better on a channel like Discovery of History.

September 20 2010 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's about time Alex O Loughlin got a show that will last hopefully for more than one season. CBS seems to screw him over all the time!
It's high time we got to see him again!


September 20 2010 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

4. Monday at 10PM
perhaps NBC should have went with that Rockford Files remake here

September 16 2010 at 2:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sir Yuck-Yuck's comment

Apparently NBC is shooting a new Rockford Files pilot, with Josh Hollaway from Lost as the lead. Mondays at 10 could be Sawyer vs. Jin...

September 16 2010 at 3:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Do you work for NBC? Ha every one of their new shows you said will get big numbers at first. I have to disagree. I don't think The Event or Undercovers will get big ratings at all. Unless you're referring to "NBC big" which is about 7 million these days. Pitiful compared to the rest of the network hits. I think The Event will bomb, so will Undercovers. I dont know what it is about NBC dramas, but the way they are filmed, just the look of them, doesnt look like a drama. Its too crisp and bright. They dont shoot stuff like ER anymore. I dont get it. All the dramas on Fox have a look to them where you know they are dramas...if that makes sense.

September 15 2010 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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