Slotting of spinoff series under the microscope
The hottest franchise on television is about to launch another of its spawn on the competish, and all eyes will be on where it lands on the fall sked.
CBS remains tight-lipped regarding “CSI: New York,” but you can guess the Eye and its rivals have spent countless hours pondering where such a weapon might be deployed.
If you rule out Sunday, where the CBS movie will likely remain, and Friday, where advertiser coin is limited, that leaves Tuesday or Wednesday — two Eye sores — as logical spots for the Gotham-based spinoff of forensics fave “CSI.”
Unless the net goes off the charts and opts for Monday. And what about Thursdays?
In the second of a three-part series looking at the nets’ skeds prior to the May upfronts, here’s a peek at CBS and ABC:
Eye topper Leslie Moonves has already proclaimed that “CSI: New York” will be next season’s highest-rated new show, so you have to figure it’ll go in a slot without established drama competish, such as Monday at 10 (where “CSI: Miami” rules the ratings roost).
CBS could shift “CSI: Miami” to either Tuesday at 9 (where it would most help the net’s averages) or Wednesday at 10, where it will certainly take a hit opposite “Law & Order” but nonetheless provide a nice boost to the late newscasts on Eye affils.
There’s also a chance the net could keep “Miami” on Monday and send “CSI: New York” to take on NBC’s “Law & Order” on Wednesday, but this would seriously limit the spinoff’s ratings potential.
Elsewhere, there’s unlikely to be much radical change on the Eye’s sked, as rookies “Cold Case,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “Navy NCIS” all established themselves nicely in 8 o’clock slots and are expected to anchor their respective nights next season as well.
One night to keep an eye on is Thursday, where CBS could be thinking of doing some tinkering. Nets run the risk of stagnation by keeping the same lineup for three straight seasons, so 10 o’clock drama “Without a Trace,” after two seasons in the post-“CSI” incubator, could be asked to fly on its own to Tuesday or Friday.
Among marginal performers, “Hack,” “The District” and “The Guardian” are all candidates for the axe — likely hinging on the net’s plans for Saturday — but Tuesday’s “Judging Amy” is expected to survive.
Then there’s newsmag “48 Hours,” which manages to eke out a spot on the sked every season, and again could be used just about anywhere.
Among new dramas, the action drama “Bounty Hunter” sounds the most promising, perhaps Saturday at 10, while the FBI/MIT crime drama “Numbers” might make for a good Tuesday-at-9 fit.
On the comedy front, CBS must look for new blood as “Everybody Loves Raymond” winds down, so it may try a new laffer on both Monday (in the 8 o’clock hour) and Wednesday (after “King of Queens”).
Bottom line: Net doesn’t have to change much, but Tuesday and Wednesday are poised for some tweaking.
Highest priority for this downtrodden net is a hit drama, something it hasn’t had since “The Practice” about four years ago.
To help achieve this, ABC may need to seek out new drama timeslots — perhaps Monday at 8 or Friday at 10 –while at the same time maximizing the ratings for the dramas that still deliver (“NYPD Blue” and “Alias”).
New entertainment chief Steve McPherson should look at what is working on the net — two-hour chunks of reality on Sunday and Wednesday — and try to expand on that.
For example, Sunday’s 8 o’clock hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which follows vet “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” is the right show on the right net at the right time — ABC’s first such trifecta in years!
To build on this, it needs to add a 9 o’clock drama that’s aimed at adults but can be watched by kids (perhaps single-mother saga “Kat Plus One” or survival tale “Lost”), followed by “Alias,” which would shift to the more appropriate 10 o’clock slot.
Wednesdays at 8, leading into “The Bachelor” and “Extreme Makeover,” should be reserved for a femme-friendly drama (perhaps David E. Kelley’s wedding planner story “DeMarco Affairs.”)
On the comedy side, four-laffer blocks should return to Tuesday and Friday, and the net might want to consider at least two comedies on Thursday, with “My Wife and Kids” a nice choice for the 9 o’clock slot — especially with NBC likely abandoning laffers here.
Net has several mediocre, inoffensive domestic comedies, but it needs to aim higher with a laffer that has an attitude (think “Roseanne”). It should put its best comedy with a unique point of view in the Tuesday satellite slot between “8 Simple Rules” and “According to Jim.”
Friday, meanwhile, could get energized by a new laffer toplining Jessica Simpson. Imagine her and Kelly Ripa back-to-back…
Bottom line: Net has a lot of ground to make up but its most important initial steps should be finding the right Tuesday comedy and Sunday drama.