Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More on the Fall 2005 TV Season

As promised in an earlier post, I am going to offer some commentary on the new TV season. I should preface this by stating that my VCR only allows me to program for six shows and, in a spirit of selflessness, I am giving up two of those spots to allow my wife to tape CityLine and Martha, Martha Stewart's new daily show. As a result, the remaining four spots go to my standards, CSIs Vegas, NY and Miami and House. Have to catch the new shows on either summer repeats or DVD.

So, here's what I'm going to do....I'll go day-by-day and just do a quick commentary on what I think will win and lose and what will be the interesting time-slot battles. Some info included is sourced from Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV preview.


The one-time TV graveyard has become home to many big shows, including ABC's monster lineup of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. This lineup's main competition has come from Fox's animation-heavy lineup (Simpsons, King of the Hill, the revived Family Guy and American Dad). Fox has moved a new comedy, The War at Home, into Arrested Development's old slot after the Simpsons, with the idea that AD can carry Fox to Monday night success. The big battle will be the 8-9 PM time slot, as Extreme Makeover will not only be challenged by Fox's combo of Simpsons/War at Home, but also CBS' top-20 hit Cold Case (show #36A in the Bruckheimer canon), but by the arrival of former heavyweight The West Wing, which joins Law and Order CI and Crossing Jordan to form a potent lineup for NBC. Still, I think we'll give the night to ABC.


CBS has owned Monday for the last few years. This year, Everybody Loves Raymond's departure leaves a big hole that CBS hopes will be plugged by moving Two and a Half Men into Raymond's 9 PM slot and putting Ray Romano's pal Kevin James' King of Queens into the 8 PM lead-in spot. 8:30 and 9:30 bring two new sitcoms, How I met Your Mother (think Friends meets The Wonder Years) and Out of Practice a comedy about a dysfunctional family of doctors led by Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler. Practice and Men have a tall order this fall, facing Monday Night Football (in its final ABC season), Fox's hugely hyped and critically adored Prison Break and Las Vegas, which has seen it's audience grow since it's debut two years ago (and which I highly recommend on DVD). CSI:Miami had a small scare last season when Medium debuted to big numbers as a midseason replacement for NBC, but finished huge with a great run of episodes to the end. End result: I see Fox coming up roses here, especially if Arrested Development keeps its audience and Prison Break hits big. I also think Two and a Half Men will fail to be the comedy anchor for CBS and will really miss Raymond's lead-in. However, Miami is probably the most-liked of all the CSI's and it'll allow CBS to carry the night.


9-10 PM is absolutely wild. ABC debuts Commander-In-Chief, featuring Geena Davis as President of the U.S. (could happen) going up against my beloved House, CBS' Amazing Race and a wicked comedy double shot on NBC (Jason Lee's My Name Is Earl and The Office). Earl and Office each could be among the season's big winners and I am especially intrigued by Earl's concept (trailer park dude wins $100,000 on a scratch ticket, gets hit by a car and, in a karmic fit, decides to make amends with anyone he's ever wronged). The Office proved it had legs in it's limited spring/summer run. 10 PM should belong to NBC's Law & Order SVU, but CBS' Close To Home (show #47C in the Bruckheimer canon) could cut into it if it's any good. Sez here that CBS wins the night as Close to Home is good and Amazing Race owns the reality TV corner. Hopefully, NCIS rolls over According to Jim and Rodney and those two shows are banished forever.


CSI:NY (show #3 in the Bruckheimer canon), gets a makeover, going from dark and dingy to high-rise and stylish. It better take, or viewers just might go back to the original L&O, which really got a boost from the great pairing of Dennis Farina and The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli as the new cops. Wednesday is also now the property of Lost, but the competition is ultra-stiff as CBS and ABC roll out new shows. CBS has Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope, Princess Bride) and Thomas Gibson (Dharma and Greg) in Criminal Minds (show #27F in the Bruckheimer canon), while NBC rolls out Dennis Hopper and ex-L&O cop Benjamin Bratt in E-Ring (show #28Q in the Bruckheimer canon). Fox, with Head Cases, is and innocent bystander. 8 PM should belong to NBC, as every other station's pair of sitcoms is set to get steamrollered by Mark Burnett and Martha Stewart's new version of The Apprentice. The verdict says Lost is a top 5 show this year, but NBC carries the night. CSI:NY becomes the first CSI to face the chopping block.


Yeah, like you need to ask who wins this night. NBC throws the Donald to CSI:Vegas (show #1 in the Bruckheimer canon), by moving Trump's Apprentice to 9 PM, and I suspect that ABC's updated Night Stalker will be on the scrap heap by Christmas. 8 PM should be fun, though, as ABC rolls out its popular Alias to go head-to-head with Survivor:Guatemala on CBS, the O.C. on Fox and Joey and Will & Grace on NBC. Odds here say NBC is left out at 8 and, with Trunp getting walloped nightly by Gil Grissom et al, ER has nothing to lead into it, further pushing it out to pasture as Without A Trace (show #13S in the Bruckheimer canon) further cements its ownership of 10-11 PM. Winner: CBS.


Can Jennifer Love Hewitt revive Friday nights? Probably not, as Friday becomes the new weekly dead zone. However, CBS is putting some pretty good stuff on, with Ghost Whisperer leading into two pretty brainy puzzle shows. At 9, there's the new Threshold, which gets major geek cred by casting TNG's Brent Spiner (aka Data) and Felicity's Robert Patrick Benedict in an Aliens-invade-Earth show. Returning at 10 is the critically acclaimed NUMB3RS. The hyped slot is 8-9 PM as Ghost Whisperer is countered by ABC's Supernanny, NBC's Dateline and Fox's Bernie Mac and Malcolm in the Middle, but, really, who's watching? The other interesting show on Fridays is NBC's Three Wishes at 9PM, as NBC tries to cash in on Extreme Makeover by sending Christian pop star Amy Grant to small-town USA to grant wishes of three people per episode. Hopefully it doesn't get lost in the noise.

Saturdays are reserved for movies and CSI repeats. 'Nuff said.

Feel free to debate/comment.