Wednesday, September 8, 2010

22 Hours, Wednesday 9/8c

Today, my fall preview looks at Wednesday 9/8c. Criminal Minds has often dominated in the fall, but a couple upstart comedies on ABC may give it a run for the second straight fall.

With Wednesday staple Lost pushed to midseason for '07-'08 the net went with three new dramas anchored in the 9:00 hour by the successful Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice. The writer's strike cut the dramas' rookie season off so Supernanny filled in at 9:00 for the rest of the season. Practice returned for fall '08 to diminished results but got a reprieve when it was moved to Thursday after its mother show. Lost came back to Wednesday for midseason of '08-'09. In fall '09 the net went with Emmy-winning comedy Modern Family and Courteney Cox-led Cougar Town. Modern Family was one of the biggest new shows of the season, averaging a 3.76 demo. While many began pointing out Cougar Town's steep declines late last season (averaged a 2.93 overall) the pair returns intact for 2010-11.

Criminal Minds debuted in this timeslot for CBS in fall '05 and has remained a consistent success ever since in the face of some brutal competition. It averaged a 3.60 in originals last season and was almost totally unfazed by its Law & Order: SVU competition in the fall. So don't look for it to take a hit from SVU's return to the hour this fall.

Fall '07 saw the extremely successful launch of newbie The Bionic Woman but it'd run out of steam within a couple months and was replaced by Deal or No Deal and eventually second runs of the now-on-USA Law & Order: CI. For fall '08 the plan was to use the last couple weeks of America's Got Talent and then Deal or No Deal at 9 to lead into Lipstick Jungle but the night was a disaster so Jungle was shipped to Friday in favor of crime drama Life at 9 which got a back nine but didn't fare much better and in fact did even worse after Lost and American Idol entered the mix in early '09. Life wrapped up in April and was replaced by Law & Order: SVU repeats to close out the season. With the 10:00 hour out of play due to Jay Leno's show NBC moved longtime Tuesday tentpole Law & Order: SVU down to this 9:00 slot for fall of '09, where it took a large hit against Criminal Minds. After briefly returning to 10:00 late last season, it's back in this hour for fall 2010 so it can lead into a new Law & Order show at 10. It averaged a 2.68 overall last season and just a 2.58 while regularly scheduled at 9:00.

Fall of '07 saw the net finish a solid 4th place with Gordon Ramsay reality effort Kitchen Nightmares, and the big post-Idol launch of 2008 was another game show in The Moment of Truth. In fall '08 came a disastrous hour of comedy including 'Til Death which somehow survived to yet another season while lead-out Do Not Disturb just saw three episodes. In early '09 a drama got the post-Idol nod, with newbie Lie to Me airing for several weeks at 9 before shifting to 8. For fall 2009 they went with Glee, a new and successful teen dramedy, then a brief tryout for newbie Human Target, then back to typical winter/spring fixture American Idol. This fall, it's Hell's Kitchen and playoff baseball. They claim Glee will return and air out of Idol at 9:00 in the winter/spring, but I'm not yet giving that the bold treatment. The most recent regular season cycle of Kitchen averaged a 3.55 on Thursdays in the second half of the 2008-09 season, while this summer's cycle averaged a 2.97.

One of the most plum slots on the CW due to the America's Next Top Model lead-in, it's been unable to make anything stick. First it was WB import One Tree Hill in fall and winter of '06-'07, then repeats of Tuesday reality show Pussycat Dolls Present. For fall '07 it was the launch of new drama Gossip Girl but its results were mediocre and it was moved to Monday by spring in favor of another season of the Pussycat Dolls show, this time in originals, and the opening weeks of eventual summer reality effort Farmer Wants a Wife. In fall '08 the net started out with repeats of newbie 90210 but in late October debuted reality dud Stylista. The net could not find any original programming to put after ANTM in the entire first half of '09 so it was 90210 repeats the whole way, posting downright embarrassing retention percentages. In fall 2009 modeling drama The Beautiful Life: TBL was DOA even by CW standards and got pulled quickly for repeats of other dramas, then the CW tried docudramas Fly Girls and High Society in early 2010. Their results were also quite weak. In fall 2010 it's a cheerleading drama called Hellcats, which actually premieres tonight (9/8).

Discovery offers its long-running show Mythbusters. Syfy tentpole Ghost Hunters will also bring original episodes to the table.

Modern Family - 3.96 average (+5% from last year), 4.6 premiere (+10%)
Criminal Minds - 3.50 average (-3%), 4.0 premiere (-9%)
Cougar Town - 2.91 average (-1%), 3.6 premiere (-18%)
Hell's Kitchen - 2.80 average (-5% from the summer edition), 2.8 premiere (-3%)
Law & Order: SVU - 2.23 average (-17%), 2.4 premiere (-4%)

Hellcats - 1.65 W18-34 average, 2.3 premiere - Could be a TBL:TBL-esque disaster, but I think this will be The CDub's young bubble show this year. And while the 2.3 premiere number would probably be great retention out of ANTM, it'd still be lower than LUX and Melrose Place's premiere numbers last year.

Modern Family. I'll give Hellcats a shot since it premieres a couple weeks early, but I can't say I'm optimistic that it is my kind of show. You?

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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