Lineup all over map
HOLLYWOOD — A trip to the ballpark, the boxing ring and even Oklahoma are in store for viewers of the six new Tuesday offerings this fall on the broadcast nets.But while this rare exhibition of network diversity in an era of big-city procedural crime dramas is refreshing, alas, the change of scenery might not be enough. The best-looking of Tuesday’s rookie batch — dramas “Clubhouse” on CBS and “Veronica Mars” on UPN — can’t measure up to some of the promising newbies on other nights. As a result, the Big Six will likely lose more of their share of the audience to cable. Fox, which turns over more than half its Tuesday sked to “American Idol” beginning in January, remains the net to beat on the night … at least in the second half of the season. Until then, Fox will have an entirely new Tuesday, with reality entry “The Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best” leading into medical drama “House” in November. (And for a few weeks this month, the combo is unscripted skeins “Trading Spouses” and boxing entry “The Next Great Champ”). Confused yet? NBC’s lineup is also a wacky one come November, when it goes from its own boxing show (“The Contender”) to CGI-animated laffer “Father of the Pride” to hospital comedy “Scrubs” and then crime drama “Law & Order: SVU.” Overall, with the exception of ABC, no net seems positioned to help itself much with its new programs. Here’s a look at how Tuesday stacks up: 8 to 9 p.m. ABC has the most to gain here as it smartly shifted popular laffers “My Wife and Kids” and “George Lopez” to the night — and they won’t have any Big Four comedy competish, since NBC has given up after repeated failures in the hour. Alphabet could win in 18-49 while CBS’ second-year drama “Navy NCIS” rules in total viewers. NBC segues from modestly performing “Last Comic Standing” to “The Contender” in November, with the boxing skein expected to fare better — but not by a lot. Look for it to skew more female than Fox’s pugilistic skein. The WB’s “Gilmore Girls,” a young-femme fave, will try to bounce back from a rocky season, while UPN has moved last year’s strong rookie “All of Us” to the leadoff slot, followed by Monday transfer “Eve.” And then there’s Fox’s “The Apprentice” ripoff, “The Billionaire,” which could do well among really bored remote-flippers 15-38. 9 to 10 p.m. Here’s another hour where ABC’s solid comedies (“According to Jim” and the new “Rodney”) just might be enough to lead in 18-49. “Rodney,” about an Oklahoma family man who follows his dream of becoming a standup comic, isn’t a knee-slapper, but it’s pleasant enough, and comic Rodney Carrington is likable enough for it to become a sleeper hit at 9:30 opposite NBC’s more urban, young-skewing “Scrubs.” As for “According to Jim,” it’s probably past its peak but will be the more popular comedy choice in the 9 o’clock slot opposite NBC’s “Father of the Pride,” whose initial segs have produced pretty good numbers but nothing spectacular. For CBS, baseball-themed “Clubhouse” is a nice try, but seems better suited for an 8 o’clock slot. And it can’t help the Eye’s attempt to draw younger viewers that it faces two other dramas in the hour with teen leads. Look for the series to perform about the same as “The Guardian” last season, although it could attract families looking for something wholesome in the hour. The WB’s “One Tree Hill” should pick up where it left off last season, when it blossomed into the net’s top-rated show among young femmes. This will make it tough for UPN’s fresh father-daughter detective drama “Veronica Mars.” Fox’s medical hour “House,” about docs at a Boston teaching hospital, is a solid drama but doesn’t seem like a good fit with the net’s aud. “Trading Spouses,” which is currently working pretty well in the 8 o’clock hour, could air behind “American Idol” come January if “House” doesn’t hold up. 10 to 11 p.m. In the rare hour where every net returns the same show from last season, look for NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” to continue to rule opposite fading dramas “NYPD Blue” on ABC and “Judging Amy” on CBS. Instead of going up against the buzzsaw of two dramas, CBS may want to consider either a newsmag or a reality series for the hour at some point, especially seeing how well “The Amazing Race” fared at 10 this summer. Look for “NYPD Blue” to possibly get a ratings boost in its farewell season, benefiting also from its “Rodney” lead-in. Bottom line For the fourth quarter anyway, the night looks to be closely contested between NBC, Fox and an improved ABC among adults 18-49, with CBS figuring to win in total viewers.
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