Warner Bros. TV: Can’t win, can’t lose

POSTED BY STUART LEVINE AND JON WEISMAN

Like a parent with kids on different teams squaring off against each other, Warner Bros. TV prexy Peter Roth will watch with both glee and terror as the 2008-09 TV season kicks off.The_mentalist3

Of the four new WB dramas picked up by the broadcast nets during last week’s upfronts, three have been thrown against each other in the same 9 p.m. Tuesday timeslot: “The Mentalist” (CBS, photo on right), “Fringe” (Fox) and “Surviving the Filthy Rich” (CW).

For better or worse, this kind of fraternal battle is becoming familiar for Warners. Mondays at 8 p.m. feature a head-to-head-to-head-to-head slugfest among four WB shows, as hourlongs “Chuck” (NBC), “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (Fox),  “Gossip Girl” (CW) face CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

“It’s a very high-class problem to have,” Roth said. “While it wouldn’t necessarily be our preference to have programs competing against one another, we have been in this situation before.  We suggest since they are all great shows, viewers should watch one of them live, TiVo the others and, preferably, watch them within the advertiser-desired three-day window.”   

At 10 p.m. Thursday, WB rookie “Eleventh Hour” goes up against veteran “ER,” which will begin its 15th and final season. And on the comedy side, it’s no laughing matter for WB as Pushing Daisies” (ABC) and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS) both vie for the same eyeballs at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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