Network to air cop drama twice next week

It’s trial balloon season at the networks.

As they start crunching numbers and drawing up strategies for their fall 2009 schedules, net execs are making a few one-time-only moves to test out time periods and/or give some series a bit more viewer exposure.

That’s why ABC, for example, is pre-empting “Cupid” next Tuesday, replacing it with an original seg of fellow newcomer “The Unusuals.”

Alphabet net has high hopes for “The Unusuals,” which hasn’t made much noise behind “Lost.” ABC execs would like to see how it does with an entirely different lead-in, the results edition of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Net will air a second original of “The Unusuals” in its normal Wednesday night slot next week; “Cupid” will be back on Tuesday the following week.

Over at CBS, net will air repeats of hit laffers “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother” next Tuesday at 8 p.m., pushing “NCIS” and “The Mentalist” each up an hour, to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

Eye is likely testing the waters for comedy on Tuesday – a night that once upon a time was home to several hit laffers in primetime, but today does not boast a single half-hour at any of the nets.

At the same time, CBS will get a chance to see how frosh hit “Mentalist” does at 10 p.m., and gives surprise success story “NCIS” a chance to show its worth in the more visible 9 p.m. slot.

Expect other nets to try similar scheduling stunts in the coming weeks as they see what shifts might work – and which ones would be DOA.

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