Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Two Weeks, Monday/Tuesday


I always like to say there are two ingredients to making a new show a hit: you've got to make people show up, and you've got to make people stay. It's the kind of catchphrase that someone with a lot of authority would come up with to distill the TV ratings world down to their tremendous following. I have neither authority nor following, but I say it anyway, in the hopes that it might appear that I have those things. And it's that catchphrase that is the basis for my assessment of the first two weeks of fall 2009 TV's new shows.

I believe that with just those two data points, you get a decent idea about what's going on in both of those arenas: how many people show up (week 1 sampling) and how many people stay (week 2 retention). You can't become a successful program if you completely bomb in either of those arenas. A huge sampling means nothing if the audience completely abandons it, and usually a big week 2 drop leads to more big drops. If you're dead on arrival it doesn't matter how much of that miniscule audience sticks around. Still, doing very well in one can save a modest performance in the other. For example, ABC's Private Practice started very big, and while the trend for pretty much its entire first two fall runs was downward, the numbers were still big enough at the end of all that to warrant it sticking around. CBS' The Mentalist started with what could be considered only OK numbers for a CBS procedural, but everybody stuck around, and a lot of new people joined, so success was born.

I didn't do one of these yesterday because I wasn't around and because there was only one show in its second week anyway. But there are a few more on Tuesday, so here we go.

Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
Sampling: 3.3 demo. Not bad if you just look at it on its own, but airing at 8:30 out of a 3.6 demo show at 8, not impressive considering the drastic increase in Households Using TV at 8:30.
Retention: A 6% dropoff in week 2 to a 3.1. A 6% dropoff's going to look pretty good relative to a lot of other drops, but there's only so far down you can reasonably go airing between HIMYM's 3.6 (consistent in both weeks) and the upper-4s of 2.5 Men at 9:00.
Prognosis: A show airing at 8:30 that is much lower than the 8 and 9 shows is in some trouble. The numbers aren't terrible on their own, but being an 8:30 sitcom means you have to do pretty well relative to the 8:00 show, and I don't see that here. I don't see a full season unless the trend improves.

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Sampling: 4.4 demo. It'll be one of the most-sampled new shows of the fall, well ahead of last year's sampling for successful The Mentalist, and lost less than 5% of its NCIS lead-in.
Retention: A 4.1 demo in week 2 means a 7% drop. Well better than average for a scripted show that has basically the same dynamics in week 2.
Prognosis:
This thing's a lock for a back nine and very, very likely to get a second season right now. Great sampling and a small drop is what we call a good combination.

The Good Wife (CBS)
Sampling: 3.1 demo. Though this is not catastrophic, the dropoff from NCIS:LA (another new show) is quite significant, retaining only about 70% of that lead-in, and while a 3.1 would be great on most networks, it's not high on the CBS drama totem pole. It could stick around on this number, but not a lot lower.
Retention: 3.1 demo in week 2. Yes, math majors, that's a zero drop.
Prognosis:
The great week 2 retention keeps The Good Wife very much in play. Stay at or above 3.0 and this thing's probably fine for a back nine and a second season. Dip into that mid-2's range that saw the end of marginal stuff like Close to Home and Without a Trace canned (despite CBS "caring about total viewers," according to the Internets) and it may get interesting. Based on week 2, that isn't a concern right now.

The Forgotten (ABC)
Sampling:
2.6 demo. This is not great, but stacked up against a lot of other efforts from this network at 10pm, it's workable. It doesn't have very far to go down, but a consistent 2.5ish out of a diminished Dancing with the Stars is something that could probably stick around on ABC. As with The Good Wife, retention needs to be excellent.
Retention:
The drop to a 2.0 demo means a usually horrific 23% fall in week 2. But it can thank its lead-in for a lot of that, as this is a rough year for Dancing with the Stars. That show fell over a point to a 2.6, meaning Forgotten's lead-in retention actually improved in week 2.
Prognosis: Neither of these numbers are good at all, and I doubt this gets the back nine if I had to guess right now. But the real story on this evening for ABC seems to be Dancing's problems. Could a 2.0 be OK in this slot if Dancing is a mid-2's kind of show? My gut says yes. But my gut also says The Forgotten ain't done dropping either.

Melrose Place (CW)
Sampling:
A lot of people harped on what were, admittedly, very low total viewer numbers for the premiere. It pulled a 1.3 A18-49, and stronger was the 2.6 rating in the CW's target demo, women ages 18-34. Compared to last year's enormous 90210 series premiere it's a big disappointment, but the female demo numbers are decent enough to work from.
Retention:
Until this happened: a 1.0 A18-49 and a 1.8 W18-34 in week 2. That's a 31% drop in the CW's "target demo." Yeeouch. Again, it's not a number that's entirely unworkable if you're starting with, say, 90210's series premiere numbers. But it certainly does not bode well after the modest start. Drops have continued in subsequent weeks as competition has increased.
Prognosis: I'd say it's doomed, but it still skews in the W18-34 direction, so you just never know with Dawn Ostroff.

Lots of newbies to discuss tomorrow: Modern Fam, Cougar Town, Eastwick, Glee, TBL:TBL, Mercy. Should be fun! And for stuff premiering late (Trauma, Hank/Middle, Three Rivers, Brothers, Cleveland), I'll try to come back to them next week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reviewing 24 (spoilers)


This summer, I watched seasons 1-6 of 24 on DVD. It was a fun experience. I'm now going to rank the seven seasons and offer some thoughts on each one. These will have some spoilers, so be warned about that if you ever plan on digging back into the series. My goal is to look at each season individually and not use some kind of penalty for being later chronologically. I don't want to penalize a season for copying ideas of a previous one. It's more about execution.

1. Season 5 - This season, for me, was probably the quintessential season of this show and always will be. The beauty of this season was something that Season 1 couldn't have done - it used the prior history of the show to its advantage, but still broke new ground. The real treat of this season was Gregory Itzin's Charles Logan character, who has got to be one of the best "love to hate" characters of all time. Even throwing out the Logan-is-evil reveal twist that showed up two-thirds of the way in, having someone in the Oval Office who's weak and indecisive was such an interesting change from perfect David Palmer. Most of the show's best characters appeared in this season at least in some capacity. And while I think Season 1 was the best at giving Jack something real to fight for, I think this one also nailed it to an only slightly lesser extent - he was trying to find justice for the deaths of close friends. Great stuff.

2. Season 1 - Probably the best season at giving Jack some real stakes to go for - a direct threat to his family. Nina as a mole was one of the biggest shockers I can remember in 24, and I certainly liked it better than, say, Tony's triple- or quadruple-agency in season 7. Perhaps I just got desensitized to the big twists as the show progressed, though. It was also probably the most tightly constructed season; there was not very much about this day that felt entirely extraneous, though perhaps it started to head in that direction toward the end with Teri's amnesia, etc.

3. Season 3 - I think I probably rank this season higher than most people do. I haven't read a ton of discussion on 24 but one negative thread I seem to pick up about this season is how extraneous the early episodes are, with a series of several false alarm versions of the virus out there. I guess looking back on it academically I can see that point of view, but seeing the show for the first time, it didn't feel that way. I'd rather the red herrings come at the beginning than at the end, when you can kind of tell that they're just spinning wheels trying to run out the clock. This day also produced several of the show's most emotionally charged individual moments for me. Michelle holding together a hotel full of virus-stricken people and Chappelle's death come to mind immediately. I also think the villains in this season had a little more to them than in many other seasons, both Ramon Salazar and Stephen Saunders.

4. Season 7 - It's the most recent 24 season chronologically, but it was the first one I saw. The season that I have to compare this to is Season 4, because both were reset buttons on some level, attempts to inject a whole new support system of characters. I think this was the more successful effort on that front. Cherry Jones' president was well done, and I liked the FBI of Season 7, especially Renee Walker and Larry Moss, a lot better than the forgettable CTU newbies of season 4. I also thought there were more memorable moments - Renee being buried alive, the two-part siege of the White House - than in the comparable Season 4. The season kind of struggled to the finish, but the first half or so of the season was one of the better opening halves in 24 history, I think.

5. Season 4 -As said above, I think this and Season 7 were pretty similar, but I think 7 was just a more enjoyable ride. It was a nice idea to center an entire season around one villain (even if the number of "backup plans" he seemed to have was ridiculous) but the problem was that the villain, Habib Marwan, was a non-entity. Ms. Driscoll and Sarah were two of the CTU newbies who were gone right around the midpoint of the season so that, essentially, all the guys from the first 3 seasons could come back. Not a great referendum on the creative revamp. It got more interesting down the stretch with the return of Palmer and the introduction of Charles Logan, but the Logan stuff was realized even more in Season 5.

6. Season 6 - Well, I'm trying not to penalize a season for copying previous seasons' ideas, and this would be the one that would get the most penalty. Lots and lots of stuff from previous seasons, and truckloads of "personal stuff" filler to boot. Much like season 2, the show lost a step after the major threat of the season was neutralized with about 8 episodes to go, though I do think this one was a little more interesting down the stretch than Season 2. Nadia Yassir was supposed to be the center of a love triangle but was a complete non-entity. Even Chloe seemed to lose some of her sharpness in this season. Morris O'Brian had his moments but for the most part it was probably the least entertaining of Jack's "support systems."

7. Season 2 -I'm being harder on this season than almost anyone I've seen. Season 2 is at the bottom of my list for being such a blatant copy of Season 1. Now, as I've said, I don't want to penalize the season for that alone, but the reason it's such an issue here is that it was such a disaster. Keeping Kim Bauer on in some kind of completely extraneous action storyline was just a horrible, horrible decision, and one of the few storylines in the seven years of this show when I literally rolled my eyes almost every time I knew we were going there. There were some good things about this season, but that trumps pretty much all of them, especially when combined with the completely bland villains, the total lack of interest after the bomb threat was gone, and the patently ridiculous attempt to oust David Palmer from office. Even Mike Novick, a favorite in other seasons, sucked this time around. This was the only season where I really didn't feel like getting into the next one after I finished it. I will say, in this season's defense, that I didn't see Marie Warner as a baddie coming at all. Good twist.

OVERALL, I thought 24 has been a very entertaining series over the years. I usually watched two episodes a night unless I had something else to do, and generally it was something that I would look forward to during the day. Is it great TV? I think it's capable of really great moments, and I think Season 5 and maybe 1 were very good TV looking at the whole, but still it's not something that I'd put on a level with Lost, which I consider to really be the gold standard for genre television. This experience has definitely ramped up my anticipation for season 8, though, just like watching the first two seasons of The Office (I only started in early season 3) really ramped up my week-to-week desire for a new episode. Guess that's a sign of a good series.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Reviewing Summer 2009 TV


I'm mostly gonna talk about ratings and the TV landscape when I use this blog, but sometimes I'll indulge in some thoughts on shows creatively. On that note, a top 10 list for the summer.

10. - I think this is the best drama this network has produced. It's suffered from some repetitive storylines, and occasionally it dips into the women-are-great-men-are-evil territory that this network kind of gets stereotyped for, but in general it's just a competent family drama and not a bad way to spend an hour. Kind of a nice summer substitute for Brothers & Sisters, and in the same timeslot.

9. - This show's best days creatively are behind it, but like the above show, it still works on a comfort food level. Though it quietly sits near the bottom of the summer top 10 for now and probably isn't even in my top 25 across an entire season, a satisfying ending to the Trudy case could see it really shoot up when I start evaluating the whole of this season.

8.
- My favorite new drama of the summer, but that isn't saying much, the way this summer went. Still, a fun dynamic between the leads, and while the tone often reminds me of Bones, it doesn't go silly the way that often does IMO. It's shown improvement during its run. That gets it on the list, but I hope it can continue to climb.

7. - A show that makes me laugh this much being all the way down at 7 means it must've been a fairly deep summer. Very enjoyable, but a show that I don't really mind missing and often don't get to on the DVR for awhile.

6. - Another show, like Warehouse 13, that I don't think has quite hit its potential yet. It was pretty close toward the end of season 1, though. But the characters are just fun to be around, and there's a lot of cleverness going on.

5. - Shockingly, a show that I ranked #2 for all of '08-'09 barely cracks the summer '09 top 5. But it's still early, and my end-of-season evaluation may be much more generous. For now, I just don't think the show is giving me much to work with. So much of the greatness is still here in the characters and the cinematography, but it needs a little drama injection.

4.
- Almost every season something comes from almost completely off my radar to become a deeply enjoyable show for me. Wipeout probably falls under that blanket from last summer; I honestly expected to enjoy I Survived a Japanese Game Show a lot more but was done with that after a week or two. This summer, it was Shark Tank, a really fascinating look at entrepreneurism and venture capitalism. What I like is the simplicity - it's just people going in and pitching their businesses and maybe scoring an investment, maybe getting brutally shot down, without too many of the usual reality TV trappings. Sure, there are some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition sob stories, but it's almost like the show is playing with that convention since so many of these people get unceremoniously crushed by the sharks. All I can say is that this is the late-summer show I've been most looking forward to on Sunday nights, and that's a real shocker to me.

3. - I've been kind of up and down on this show over the years. Season 1 was one of the funniest seasons of TV I can remember, but since then it's kind of waxed and waned, struggling with the ill-advised Shawn/Jules romance and in the tendency to separate the cops from Shawn & Gus. But this year has been a good one so far. Deeply quotable, including the jabs at "copycat" The Mentalist which I always find hysterical.

2. - What a treat it's been to have Better Off Ted originals in the summer. Even though they've completely bombed in the ratings, this is a show that really found its footing a few episodes in and never looked back. I wasn't really a fan of previous Victor Fresco shows (I always thought Andy Barker, P.I. was the best Andy Richter vehicle) but this one just seems to know what it's doing, and it's got Portia de Rossi, who has desperately got to get an Emmy nomination next year.

1. - If you'll recall, I throw that "potential" label around a lot for these sort of light episodic shows like Warehouse 13 and Leverage. Burn Notice is an example of a show that has realized the potential. It has stakes and a dramatic credibility that the others just haven't yet been able to muster up. It has that awesomely informative voiceover. And it has four fully realized and really damn entertaining characters, including Sharon Gless, who may be one of the first to buck the USA Network "annoying family member" stereotype.

Now a few brief thoughts on shows that missed the cut, in no particular order except for when I thought of them. Interestingly, I only watched 11 shows in full this summer, so most of them made that list, while most of the below are things that I just sampled. Generally I note how much of the show I saw, so you can argue with me on whether or not I gave it a fair shake. ;-)

Royal Pains (USA)
- Again, potential, but even less realized than in many others. Lots of problems it needs to iron out, like the horribly uninteresting Jill/Hank relationship, and didn't seem to take many positive steps. However, I watched all the eps. There was some entertainment value.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (ABC) - I was disappointed by the fact that so much of the syndicated version and not the original primetime version got ported into this revival. Regis and the clock didn't mix. Still got four hours to watch on DVR, may have to delete.
The Philanthropist (NBC) - I thought this was a pretty interesting idea with a very capable lead but there just wasn't enough unique entertainment value in each episode. They all seemed the same to me. Watched three eps.
Merlin (NBC) - I kind of liked this show but it may have gotten pushed out by how busy Sunday TV was for awhile there. Just not enough substance for adults, I don't think. Decidedly not must-see for me. Saw three or four eps.
Defying Gravity (ABC) - Cool concept, not as bad as I expected, but I just kind of lost interest after about three episodes.
HawthoRNe (TNT) - Total genericfest. I saw nothing in this show that suggested to me it could even become something unique or enjoyable or good. Lead was way too perfect. Maybe it got better, a lot of shows do, but in my estimation it had a long road ahead of it. Bailed after pilot.
Dark Blue (TNT) - Listen, some people dig the really dreary stuff, but I don't. And Dylan McDermott and Logan Marshall-Green are not credible badasses by a long shot. Passed after pilot... I've seen a couple minutes here and there of some other episodes but didn't like any of it enough to want to give it another serious look.
Law & Order: CI (USA) - I think the show is in a better place than it was for its first few USA Network originals but it's not really must see. I usually catch up on it while traveling. Still four or five eps saved on my computer.
Shaq Vs. (ABC) - Too much filler in the first half-hour to be watchable for the whole way. We are not really in an era of half-hour programs, which works against this show. I'd prefer one act of the training/prep stuff and then straight to the competition.
Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime) - Too girly for me. That's about all I can say. But, seeing bits of promos while skipping through the Army Wives commercials, I have been fairly impressed with this show's arsenal of guest stars. Done after the pilot.
10 Things I Hate About You (ABC Family) - I was expecting this to be pretty good and was kind of underwhelmed by the first two episodes so I bailed. I actually have caught it a couple more times since then and have decided it's reasonably watchable, but not really Season Pass-worthy.
Ruby & the Rockits (ABC Family) - This was very Disney Channel-esque. I've heard before that places like the CW and ABC-F are supposed to be like the next stepping stone for the huge crowd watching Disney and Nick, but with only a couple content tweaks this could probably be right at home on Disney. Not really for me... saw pilot and maybe one or two random eps since.
Make It or Break It (ABC Family) - One and done. I was just completely uninterested. It seemed merely bad, not absolutely horrific like lead-in Secret Life, so that's something.

Thanks to TV-aholic for the show icons!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

19 Timeslots, Table of Contents


Thanks for reading my 19 Timeslots articles. Hope they were an informative way to get you geared up for fall 2009, or at least a trip down recent memory lane. We're only a couple days away from the first new programming of the fall now! Here's a quick rundown of the 19 timeslots:

Intro
Sunday - 7PM | 8PM | 9PM | 10PM
Monday - 8PM | 9PM | 10PM
Tuesday - 8PM | 9PM | 10PM
Wednesday - 8PM | 9PM | 10PM
Thursday - 8PM | 9PM | 10PM
Friday - 8PM | 9PM | 10PM

Upcoming on this blarg the next couple days will be a few thoughts on my summer TV, both the original programs and some thoughts on Fox drama 24, most of which I watched on DVD this summer. Not sure exactly what I'll be writing about once the regular season starts, but I'm hoping to keep this thing going.

Enjoy fall 2009!

19 Timeslots, Sunday 10PM


So here we are, the end of the road. Sundays at 10 are a very different situation for the three networks, and somewhat unique within each net. For one, it's the lead-out to a top drama, one of the most plum spots on the net. For another, it's one of the net's lowest priority spots in the fall because football overruns can push the start of the program nearly out of primetime. For the third, it's sports in the fall, meaning you can't air something that would be year-round in the first and second quarters.

ABC: Fall 2004 saw the very successful launch of Desperate Housewives, not just a major hit in its own right but also one of the very few major hits of the last five years that proved time and again a capable lead-in to launch other programs at 10:00. In season 1 it was Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy here, both of which eventually went to other nights and saw 5+ seasons each. In season 2 Grey's did most of the duty but a brief run by What About Brian won it a second season on another night. For season 3 Grey's was on the move meaning yet another newbie Brothers & Sisters launched and made it to yet another second season. Unlike the other post-DH lead-outs, it hasn't left the hour and continues there for its fourth straight season despite ABC seemingly being on the verge of pulling off a move on an almost yearly basis. It averaged about a 3.5 demo in originals last season. During the writer's strike, the first season of reality effort Here Come the Newlyweds also aired here.

CBS: Though the huge NFL lead-in is a big help to the opening hours of CBS Sunday primetime, the returns greatly diminish as the evening wears on making this a tough hour for the eye. Their last year of true aggression in the hour was '06-'07 when they moved longtime Thursday tentpole Without a Trace to the slot and regularly saw gains out of 9:00 show Cold Case. For fall '07 they returned WAT to its Thursday home and brought in sophomore legal drama Shark which generally skewed too old to continue into a third season. During the writer's strike of '08 the net got an OK run out of Showtime original series Dexter in this hour. For '07-'08 it was another deprioritized show in The Unit and again it got the axe. If this trend is any indication, next on the chopping block is Cold Case, which had three years at 8 and three years at 9 and now begins a run at 10.

NBC: Sunday Night Football will likely find demo dominance in this hour again this fall. After the season it's a little tougher. For early '07 the net went with a couple of fast-fading NBC staples in Crossing Jordan and The Apprentice. In '08 it was some specials and eventually a lot of Law & Order: SVU repeats. For '09, some miniseries in the early winter and then another run for Donald Trump's resurgent franchise, this time a Celebrity Apprentice which averaged a pretty consistent 3.2 demo across its two-month run.

Cable Notables: The third season of AMC's Emmy-winning drama Mad Men is not much of a ratings threat but will air well into the fall thanks to a late start this season. Showtime offers third-year comedy Californication, while E! has a cavalcade of reality originals across the fall including Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami, Reality Hell, The Girls Next Door, and The Lamas Family which should attract a little demo interest.

Friday, September 4, 2009

19 Timeslots, Friday 10PM


Two of the three networks at 10 on Friday have a very reliable show, and the third will be bringing in the fifth night of a weekly strip. Don't expect much upheaval here in '09-'10.

ABC: The longtime home of newsmagazine 20/20 will continue to be that way in 2009-10. ABC has tried other stuff here before, like drama Men in Trees at the beginning of fall '07, but I wouldn't count on any such experiments this year.

CBS: Crime drama Numb3rs debuted in this timeslot in midseason of the '04-'05 season and has held down the timeslot ever since, even though it always seems to be part of the moving/cancellation rumor mill toward the end of the season. Nevertheless, it enters season 6 and should be favored to win the slot in the demo. It averaged a 2.3 demo in '09-'10 originals.

NBC: For fall of '06 NBC went with declining crime drama Law & Order out of its longtime Wednesday 10pm home and gave it a run on Friday. It eked out another season but was held for midseason while NBC ran the final season of Las Vegas in this hour during '07-'08. NBC then moved crime drama Life to this timeslot for the beginning of fall '08. Its results weren't anything special but they were good enough to warrant NBC moving the show to its fast-tanking Wednesday lineup while Wednesday refugee Lipstick Jungle briefly ended up here. Jungle did badly and was pulled temporarily, eventually airing its last few episodes in the 9:00 hour while Dateline NBC took over on most Fridays at 10. For fall '09 it's the last broadcast of The Jay Leno Show's weekly strip.

Cable Notables: The tail end of wacky USA Network detective drama Psych's summer season will air here, then USA brings in newbie White Collar to air after the final episodes of Monk. Syfy goes with sophomore drama Sanctuary.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

19 Timeslots, Thursday 10PM


This is the home of both the post-CSI timeslot and the post-Grey's timeslot. There's been a lot of activity.

ABC: The first lead-out for Grey's Anatomy on Thursday was JJ Abrams offering Six Degrees but it really struggled and eventually saw Friday/ABC.com duty. It was replaced by a somewhat promising Friday show called Men in Trees which had at least marginal improvements in retention and got another season (but back to Friday). Late in '06-'07 the net debuted some other series, like six episodes of October Road and tryouts for Notes from the Underbelly and Traveler. For fall '07 it was the "male Desperate Housewives," Big Shots, and while it did pretty poorly it played out its entire 13-ep order in large part because the writer's strike hampered the available options. During the strike ABC moved Lost into a Thursday anchor spot and its lead-out was legal newbie Eli Stone. When Grey's came back post-strike Lost got bumped up into this 10:00 hour. For fall '08 it was another newbie in '70s cop drama Life on Mars, but it eventually got moved to Wednesday for a post-Lost tryout while fading Grey's spinoff Private Practice came over to the post-Grey's spot for a boost. No doubt it got one and it returns to the slot for '09-'10. Originals in this timeslot averaged a 3.8 demo though that was boosted by some crossover episodes. Most eps fell between 3.3 and 3.6.

CBS: One of the most iconic three-hour blocks of TV in recent memory was CBS' Survivor/CSI/Without a Trace Thursdays. But in fall of 2006 CBS finally elected to break it up, sending Trace to prop up Sunday and bringing in legal newbie Shark. Shark had OK retention and got renewed, but it was Sunday-bound this time while WAT returned to solidify Thursday again. However, a year of disappointing retention saw it moved again for fall 2008, this time to Tuesdays at 10 to prop up a historically rough timeslot for the eye. Newbie Eleventh Hour took over for most of the season, then horror dud Harper's Island and crime repeats saw some late-season action . CBS will continue to alternate between known quantities and newbies, this time bringing over last year's breakout hit The Mentalist in a move many see as a precursor to Mentalist taking over at 9. It has almost without fail built out of CSI in reruns this summer, a good omen for fall '09.

NBC: This is, of course, the very long-time home of medical drama ER, and it's aired in the timeslot each of the last three years. However, there have been some fill-ins recently, first newbie Lipstick Jungle during the '08 writer's strike, then new cop drama Southland at the end of '08-'09 after ER finally aired its series finale. This year, it's The Jay Leno Show taking over here just like every weeknight at 10.

Cable Notables: FX has had a comedy foothold in this timeslot thanks to veteran It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and it's joined by newbie Archer this fall.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

19 Timeslots, Wednesday 10PM


The longtime home of NBC's Law & Order, a growing CSI:NY caused NBC to move the tentpole out of the slot in fall of '06, and since then CBS has been stable while the other two nets have had a lot of upheaval.

ABC: For the '06-'07 season ABC cancelled Invasion and The Evidence, the season's previous Lost lead-outs, and tried another newbie in The Nine. It failed pretty badly and was replaced first by Primetime: Live and eventually by Lost, which the net decided was incapable of leading into anything. For the next two falls the timeslot housed Dirty Sexy Money, but the seasons were cut off first by the strike and then by cancellation. In early '08 the replacements included drama failures Cashmere Mafia and Men in Trees, then a post-strike run for Boston Legal. In early '09 Lost made its return to Wednesdays at 9 and it had a couple lead-outs, first '70s cop show Life on Mars and then cop dramedy The Unusuals. Neither of them lasted either so it's yet another newbie for ABC in remake Eastwick, which will lead out of two hours of new comedy.

CBS: The eye debuted CSI: New York in this timeslot in fall of 2004 and has not aired anything else here since. It was a stable player on a year-to-year basis in '08-'09 averaging a 3.4 demo and returns there for fall '09.

NBC: If one event can signal the beginning of NBC's problems on Wednesday night, it was probably newbie Kidnapped showing up completely DOA in the fall of 2006. Rather than bring back longtime tentpole L&O, they briefly aired Dateline in the slot and had a midseason run for Medium ready to go by November. For fall '07 they had cop drama Life in the timeslot which started in medicore fashion but held up well enough during Bionic Woman's complete meltdown that it got another season but saw its first one cut off by the writer's strike. In winter '08 the net returned Law & Order to its longtime home. For fall '08 it was failed sophomore drama Lipstick Jungle, but it was quickly shifted to Friday and Law & Order was back in the saddle by November. Don't count on L&O to the rescue this year as the net should stick with The Jay Leno Show here and in all weeknight 10:00 slots for all of '09-'10.

Cable Notables: FX offering Nip/Tuck always drums up some demo interest, as will Comedy Central's animated veteran South Park and newbie leadout Secret Girlfriend.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

19 Timeslots, Tuesday 10PM


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.

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