|Dancing with the Stars|
|Premieres September 15|
|Timeslot Occupants||Dancing with the Stars Fall||The Bachelor||Dancing with the Stars Spring|
Best Case: In 2013-14, the fast-fading Dancing with the Stars improbably reversed course with a -5% fall and, more significantly, a +2% spring. The momentum is undeniable, and at this point DWTS may just blow past its spring numbers. Adds a tenth to the spring total and posts a 2.42, up double-digits from last fall.
Worst Case: This so-called "momentum" has really only lasted for two seasons, which is less a trend and more a temporary spike in casting. DWTS will promptly return to the just-above-average level to which it had fallen in its 2012-13 seasons. Down 17% to a 1.80.
Likeliest: I'm still skeptical about just how much farther this comeback can go, but it'd be tough to call for an immediate end based on how well last season went. DWTS is probably going to have at least one more "good" season, and then maybe it'll start tailing off again in the spring. This fall averages a 2.11, down 2% from last fall.
|Premieres September 22|
|Timeslot Occupants||2 Broke Girls||Mike and Molly||Mom|
Best Case: Scorpion starts the season with the biggest entertainment programming lead-in that broadcast can offer. And there's no doubt that it's CBS' promotional darling of the fall, meaning they strongly believe in its potential. It's this year's The Blacklist, a procedural with just enough extra to get young people interested. 2.60.
Worst Case: After one week with that biggest entertainment programming lead-in that broadcast can offer, it's leading out a middling comedy hour. It's the same scheduling debacle that doomed last year's Hostages and Intelligence, only an hour earlier, and this show doesn't have enough of a hook to do any better. It takes an Intelligence-esque week two drop and ends up at a Hostages-esque 1.11.
Likeliest: I've gotten burned in the past by trusting in CBS' scheduling wisdom, and this could well be another of those spots. But I just don't see CBS blowing up its decades of two-hour Monday comedy tradition and devoting this much promo time to a total dud. On the other hand, the timeslot is pretty rough, and I'm not sold this is a splashy enough concept to do big numbers with a shaky support system. So I say Scorpion will get a back nine but be a season two bubble show. 1.80.
|Premieres September 22|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Voice Mon Fall||The Voice Mon Spr|
Best Case: The Voice's ability to cast appealing people in the coach seats is simply unmatched. Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams actually represent a marked improvement on Christina and CeeLo, keeping The Voice's fall season on the improved side in Plus. It's down 5% to a 3.82.
Worst Case: This series has been trending in the wrong direction of late. Even in a good fall season, it dropped much more in the second half of the season, and then the spring season was down more than average even with what should've been very favorable scheduling. (It started earlier on the calendar and came off of Olympics promotion.) With even more competition, it'll really start to snowball this year. Down 25% to just a 3.00.
Likeliest: The momentum does not seem to be on this show's side right now, and that's not a good place to be when such a brutal Monday slate looms. The new judges may help, but probably not much. The Voice is headed for its worst year-to-year decline yet: -17% to a 3.35.
|Premieres September 22|
|Timeslot Occupants||Sleepy Hollow||The Following||24: Live Another Day|
Best Case: Sleepy Hollow succeeded in a big way last year without that much lead-in support. Gotham will be a noticeable upgrade in that department, more compatible than Bones and much bigger than Almost Human. It was a good enough show that the long hiatus is not nearly as detrimental as it was for Under the Dome and The Following; in fact, it might bring a few more people on board. It'll be down in the early weeks, but very close to even for the full season: 2.58.
Worst Case: There's a habit forming among the limited series that take eight- or nine-month hiatuses: people just forget about them. Under the Dome is down 40%+ year-to-year. The Following would've been down almost exactly 40% year-to-year if you throw out the huge NFL influence on the first episode. Sleepy Hollow may be better-reviewed, but the ratings don't lie; it tailed off late in season one just like those two. That's a pretty consistent template, and Sleepy Hollow follows suit. In fact, it may even drop a bit more due to a longer episode order and some added drama competition from Scorpion. Down 43% to 1.50 (but still may get renewed, so downtrodden is Fox).
Likeliest: This is one of those tough situations where there are significant positives and negatives. It's a markedly better show than Dome and Following, which I (perhaps wishfully) think will keep it from getting quite as ugly. But it still didn't have a great season one trend, and an upgrade in lead-in may not be as meaningful with this kind of show as it would be with a comedy or procedural. It'll come back with well into the 2's (depends on how Gotham premieres) and end up settling at very high 1's for a 1.97 average (down 24%). An easy renewal, but still a noticeable step down from its bonafide hit status in season one.
|Jane the Virgin (NEW!)|
|Premieres October 13|
|Timeslot Occupants||Beauty and the Beast||The Tomorrow People|
Best Case: The CW has a funny way of devising these "little engine that could" shows like Hart of Dixie and Reign that end up pulling ahead of shows with heavier hype. I can't see this actually pulling ahead of The Flash, but it will be a solid underdog story in the vein of Ugly Betty, and the critics really seem to like it. It almost matches The Originals at 0.65 and gets a season two.
Worst Case: This is a Dawn Ostroff-style show that finds a network almost completely switched over to a different regime. Maybe it'd have fared better after 90210 or Gossip Girl, but it makes for a nonsensical pairing with its already modest The Originals lead-in. Pulled very quickly at a 0.24.
Likeliest: Last year my gut was telling me that the pairing between The Vampire Diaries and Reign made a funny kind of sense, but I didn't listen. This year, I have no such impulse. I just don't see the Originals audience being remotely interested in this, so getting a decent level of sampling on the CW of today is going to be a major struggle. It will do a touch better than last year's Beauty and the Beast almost by default because its lead-in is so drastically better. But the CW has shows in reserve and they're going to want to do better than this. 0.34 and done by the end of the fall.
The Network to Watch: CBS. Though Sleepy Hollow season two is a wild card, Scorpion is an even bigger one.
The Picks: I'll likely return to Sleepy Hollow, which I enjoyed last season. I am moderately intrigued by Scorpion and Jane the Virgin, but only one (at most) can win out for that second DVR tuner.