Thanks to some bold scheduling moves and the arrival of a few formidable newcomers, the fall TV season brings with it at least five major time-slot face-offs.
Can a transplanted comedy titan continue to rule in its new roost? Will a rebooted cop show close the book on a charming mystery author? Can Thomas Magnum kick Victor Sifuentes’ butt? Fancast sizes up the big throwdowns between the shows clamoring for your attention.
Mondays at 10/9c: ‘Castle‘ (ABC) vs ‘Hawaii Five-O‘ (CBS)
The heavy-breathing Castle and Beckett were robbed of any chance to come up for air when CBS yanked time-slot champ ‘CSI: Miami’ only to make room for one of the fall’s splashiest and sexiest new shows, ‘Hawaii Five-O.’ Captain Tightpants has a fervent following, yes, but don’t underestimate the Alex O’Loughlin faithful who are champing at the bit to eye what could be his (Faint Praise Alert!) most successful venture to date. The Fancast Forecast: This season’s tightest race will be a months-long see-saw. Though ‘Five-O’ is the highly-promo’d new kid on the block, ‘Castle’ enjoys a proven lead-in – those crazy ‘Dancing’ stars versus freshman lovebirds ‘Mike & Molly.’
Tuesdays at 8/7c: ‘NCIS‘ (CBS) vs ‘Glee‘ (Fox) vs ‘No Ordinary Family‘ (ABC)
You can’t write a scenario more delicious than this: TV’s most-watched drama takes on TV’s biggest buzz-magnet, now that ‘Glee’ is airing an hour earlier. Throw into the mix one of the season’s shiniest newcomers – ABC’s ‘No Ordinary Family’ – and expect super fireworks. The Fancast Forecast: CBS’ older-skewing ‘NCIS’ dips a bit – especially when opposite ‘Glee’s “event” episodes (e.g. the Britney Spears tribute/cameo) – yet easily retains its viewership title. ‘Glee’ meanwhile may feel the biggest punch from the empowered Powell ‘Family’ if the pop-culture darling flirts with any sort of sophomore slump.
Wednesdays at 8/7c: ‘Undercovers‘ (NBC) vs ‘Survivor: Nicaragua‘ (CBS)
In any other universe, a J.J. Abrams spy series would sail through to victory. Alas, CBS manufactured a reality in which ‘Survivor’ and its audience of 12 million returns to its original day and time slot. Also fighting for eyeballs here is ABC’s unsung sophomore comedy, ‘The Middle.’ The Fancast Forecast: We predict-slash-hope that ‘Survivor,’ Fox’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and The CW’s ‘Top Model’ split the reality vote, paving the way for the fun and sexy ‘Undercovers’ to kick off its mission with a sufficient (if not timeslot-winning) audience.
Wednesdays at 10/9c: ‘The Whole Truth‘ (ABC) vs ‘The Defenders‘ (CBS) vs ‘Law & Order: LA‘ (NBC)
Otherwise known as the Rumble In The New Legal Drama Jungle, this contest is more about who won’t be the first of the three canceled. ‘LOLA’ has brand recognition, ‘The Defenders’ offers the affable Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell as Las Vegas lawyers, while ABC’s ‘Truth’ boasts TV vets Rob Morrow (‘Numb3rs’) and Maura Tierney (‘ER’). The Fancast Forecast: ‘LOLA’ walks like a man and wins the hour in viewers, with the feel-good ‘Defenders’ placing second.
Thursdays at 8/7c: ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ (CBS) vs ‘Community‘ (NBC), ‘Bones‘ (Fox) and ‘The Vampire Diaries‘ (CW)
Last season, ‘Big Bang’ drew nearly as many viewers as its three new rivals combined, but the science to properly evaluating this battle may not be so simple. ‘Community’ shares a similar-ish, comedic take on awkward underdogs, ‘Bones’ has forgotten more about Will They/Won’t They angst than Penny and Leonard will ever learn, and ‘Vampire Diaries’ is another big fave of the Comic-Con crowd. The Fancast Forecast: Propelled by its end-of-freshman season momentum, ‘Community’ holds its ground – at least after DVR playback is factored in – while the ‘Big Bang’ers draw a slightly smaller crowd than they did on Mondays, where ‘Two And A Half Men’ set the table.
Fridays: ‘Smallville‘ (CW) vs ‘Human Target‘ (Fox)… ‘Supernatural‘ (CW) vs ‘CSI: New York‘ (CBS)… and ‘Blue Bloods‘ (CBS) vs ‘Outlaw‘ (NBC)
How will ‘Smallville’s swan song fare against another comic book-inspired drama that also happens to average bigger numbers than ‘House’ repeats previously gave Fox at 8 o’clock? Will a re-energized ‘CSI: NY’ compromise ‘Supernatural’s bid to scare up a meaningful audience in its new Fridays-at-9 slot? But those are just questions. The only true contest here is between ‘Blue Bloods,’ featuring Tom Selleck as the patriarch of a family of cops, and ‘Outlaw,’ which stars ‘L.A. Law’yer Jimmy Smits as a Supreme Court Justice who bolts the bench. The Fancast Forecast: ‘Blue Bloods’ cops a bigger 10 o’clock crowd as ‘Outlaw’ is hampered by its many derivative elements (e.g. the badass and bisexual Carly Pope character who is a blatant rip-off of ‘Good Wife’s Kalinda).