Wednesday, September 7, 2011

22 Fall TV Matchups, Wednesday 10/9c

Today, my fall preview looks at Wednesday 10/9c. A year ago, there were three brand-new shows in this timeslot (none of which made it to season two). This year? Two shows well into their second decade!

This timeslot rated easy in 2010-11. Most shows airing in this timeslot had noticeably positive Sitches.

This has been a timeslot of considerable turmoil on ABC. In fall 2008, they got rid of Dirty Sexy Money after two short seasons. In early 2009, Lost made its return to Wednesdays at 9/8c and it had a couple lead-outs, first the back end of '70s cop show Life on Mars and then cop dramedy The Unusuals. Neither of them lasted, and then another couple failures took the slot in 2009-10 in new drama Eastwick and fast-fading serial Ugly Betty. In the end, the best performer in the hour may have been late-season fill-in Primetime: What Would You Do? But it headed to Friday the next season. Yet another pair of failed dramas stepped in for 2010-11 with The Whole Truth and Off the Map. Late in the season, the net actually tried a comedy in the hour with Happy Endings. It wasn't particularly impressive, but it had good buzz and managed to eke out another season (now at 9:30 in the cushy post-Modern Family timeslot). Meanwhile, ABC will try yet another new drama in this hour in Revenge, which has been getting a surprisingly heavy promotional push.

The eye debuted CSI: NY in this timeslot in fall of 2004, and it aired its first six seasons in the hour. Its big drops in 2009-10 saw it shoved to Friday in favor of an almost ABC-esque cycling of new blood. The Defenders had the timeslot in the fall, Blue Bloods had a very brief run here in the winter, and then Criminal Minds spinoff Suspect Behavior had it in the spring. With none of those shows making season two (except Blue Bloods which remains in its normal Friday home), CBS will go sharply back in the other direction by bringing over the CSI mothership. Following more than a decade on Thursday at 9/8c, it looks to carve out a foothold in a new timeslot.

This was the historic timeslot for NBC's Law & Order mothership. They tried weaning themselves off the show in the mid-aughts, but for a couple years they ended up going back to L&O after other shows failed. The last time they did that was late fall 2008 when Law & Order replaced failed sophomore Lipstick Jungle. Then the show's higher-rated spinoff Law & Order: SVU became the yearly 10/9c fill-in. It replaced failed The Jay Leno Show in February 2010 and then the hiatus-bound Law & Order: Los Angeles last season. This year, NBC will stop delaying the inevitable and just lead off the season with Law & Order: SVU. It averaged a 2.54 last season (and almost exactly that at 10:00).

Bored by the dinosaur procedurals? There's a lot going on in this timeslot in pretty much all genres on cable! Reality? A&E will have its breakout program Storage Wars followed by spinoff Storage Wars: Dallas. MTV's got reeeeally old reality program The Real World. Comedy? Comedy Central has animation veteran South Park and newbie Nick Swardson's Pretend Time. TBS brings back soon-to-be-ending comedy Tyler Perry's House of Payne. And in the drama department, FX tries Ryan Murphy newbie American Horror Story while USA brings back its longest-running active drama Psych. Whew!

Revenge - 1.77 - I'm torn on this one. If you believe ABC's promotional strategy, they love the show, but without having seen it, it just seems to me like a sort of classic ABC Wednesday 10:00 flop. If it is just another flop, the above prediction's probably too generous, but ABC's promotion is flustering me a bit.
CSI - 2.75 (-7%) - With Stabler out on SVU, I think this somewhat hotly anticipated matchup is going to be more of a CBS blowout than some people think. It's coming from a tough timeslot into a much better situation and I don't see it dropping a ton from the loss of relatively unpopular Laurence Fishburne.
Law & Order: SVU - 2.08 (-18%)

My certainty in this timeslot is USA favorite Psych. I'll also sample FX's American Horror Story and ABC's Revenge. I'd kinda like to see the new crew on SVU and Ted Danson on CSI, but those aren't high priorities. I may have to wait till things settle down. You?

Previous Wednesday 10/9c posts: 2009 | 2010

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