A timeslot long dominated by NBC's Law & Order: SVU, it took a hit when CBS finally moved a veteran crime drama to the hour in Without a Trace last year. This year it's anybody's game with Trace axed, SVU moved, and three newbies airing.
ABC: This was the home of legal drama Boston Legal for three seasons, starting in fall '05. Primetime: What Would You Do? filled in during the writer's strike months early in '08, then BL got a Wednesday tryout while the post-strike eps of Women's Murder Club played out with the post-DWTS lead-in during the spring. Legal was shipped to Monday for fall '08 while sophomore legal effort Eli Stone filled in with considerably worse results than BL had so Primetime: WWYD got another fill-in effort early in '09 before yet another failed drama Cupid got a run in the slot. For the fall, it's back to the new show well in The Forgotten but with considerably less competition than last year.
CBS: As with ABC, this has been a really tough timeslot to nail down. They got a good run out of Judging Amy here in the first half of the 2000s and then a year out of eventually Friday-bound Close to Home but since then, problems. Two newbies lasted a mere three eps each in Smith and 3 Lbs. in fall of '06. 48 Hours Mystery and then crime drama repeats closed out '06-'07. In fall '07 it was family drama Cane which didn't fare well but played out its eps due to the looming writer's strike. More crime repeats, an eventual sophomore run for genre drama Jericho, and one-and-done bomb Secret Talents of the Stars took over for the rest of the season. Then Without a Trace moved to the slot and, despite usually losing to SVU in the demo, held it down for the rest of the season but was then axed despite being a top 15 show in total viewers. For fall '09 the tradition of legal drama in this timeslot continues with newbie The Good Wife.
NBC: The peacock has aired Law & Order: SVU in this timeslot since its fifth season all the way back in fall of '03, though the show actually had its highest-ranked seasons when it was a Friday show in the early '00s. This year, SVU is a victim of NBC's abandonment of Tuesday and shifts to Wednesday at 9 while The Jay Leno Show takes over here.
Cable Notables: Lots to mention. FX brings the sophomore run of promising drama Sons of Anarchy. MTV offers demographically strong The Hills and The City. Lifetime airs a sitcom block of newbie Sherri and second-year Rita Rocks. Wrestling program ECW airs here for Syfy in the fall, while Spike offers reality newbie Surviving Disaster.