Today, my fall preview looks at Tuesday 10/9c. NBC's Law & Order: SVU dominated this hour for years but took a hit when CBS finally moved a veteran crime drama to the hour in Without a Trace last year. Now both are gone and we have a second straight season with no clear favorite. It's anybody's game.
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, they brought in Jerry Bruckheimer procedural The Forgotten which got a minor extension but slowly trickled down into flop territory, then V got a whirl in the hour and eked out a renewal for midseason. This fall, the net will go with another newbie in cop show Detroit 1-8-7 this year.
As with ABC, this has been a really tough timeslot to nail down since the departure of Judging Amy in the mid-aughts. 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 for 2008-09 and, as easily the weak link of the night for CBS, got the axe. For fall '09 the net returned to legal drama in the hour with newbie The Good Wife, and while it was once again a ratings weak link, its 2.68 original average was about as good as Without a Trace and it garnered a lot of rare-for-CBS critical acclaim including a best drama Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe win for lead Julianna Margulies and an Emmy win for supporting player Archie Panjabi. So it returns for fall 2010.
The peacock aired Law & Order: SVU in this timeslot from its fifth season all the way back in fall of '03 through the end of the 2008-09 season, and that show probably deserves a lot of credit for CBS' troubles in the hour through the last decade. But it became a victim of NBC's abandonment of scripted in the 10:00 hour and headed for Wednesday in 2009-10. Stripped The Jay Leno Show had its highest-rated night on this evening thanks to the Biggest Loser lead-in and its weak competition, and if the show had rated as well on the other four nights as on Tuesday we may still be talking about it. Once Leno was done, this hour went to newbie Parenthood, which premiered modestly but maintained most of that audience and frequently beat its Good Wife competition head-to-head. It averaged a 2.62 in originals and returns to the hour for 2010-11.
The cable all-star of the hour is FX's Sons of Anarchy, which will have an outside shot to contend for the demo title in this hour. (But, let me reiterate, outside shot.) Syfy's bringing back Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica in early October.
Parenthood - 2.72 average (+4%), 3.0 premiere (-3%)
The Good Wife - 2.51 average (-6%), 2.8 premiere (-10%)
Detroit 1-8-7 - 1.88 average, 2.5 premiere - I could be way off on this, because the competition is far from intimidating, but I think this will only barely hold up better than The Forgotten post-premiere. Might earn the small extension The Forgotten got.
WHAT I'M WATCHING
Parenthood, and I'll give Detroit 1-8-7 a try. I'll also see if I can get back into Caprica, which now returns earlier than expected. You?
For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.