Over the last two seasons, “Survivor” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” have helped CBS peck away at NBC’s long-held Thursday night dominance.
Now, the Eye is looking for the kill.
CBS is positioning its most promising new series, missing-persons drama “Without a Trace,” opposite NBC’s seemingly vulnerable “ER” at 10. The medical drama was surpassed by “CSI” as television’s most-watched drama last season and will enter its ninth year, missing lead actor Anthony Edwards.
CBS’ Kelly Kahl says the Eye doesn’t harbor any illusions about beating “ER,” but does think “Without a Trace” is a good fit with “CSI.” “The shows are different enough yet have a similar underlining feel to them. They are both like putting puzzles together, and our viewers seem to really love that.”
NBC sked chief Mitch Metcalf is confident that “ER” can step up to the plate and thinks the drama will benefit from an improved Peacock comedy block on the night. Rather than going with two new Thursday comedies this season, NBC is moving second-year “Scrubs” to 8:30 and bowing rookie “Good Morning Miami” at 9:30.
“We’re really pleased with our prospects because we have the makings of a real night,” says Metcalf. “When 9:30 is humming, ‘ER’ is going to be the beneficiary.
“I also think you’ll see Noah Wyle emerge as the leader of ‘ER.’ That show is still very much on track.”
Bottom line: The best-looking new drama of the season is going up against NBC’s down-trending but still tough “ER.” Look for the ratings gap in this hour to close even more.