‘NCIS’ vs. ‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ Among New TV Season’s Big Showdowns

NCIS Agents of Shield Timeslot-Battle

Robin Williams-Michael J. Fox comedy collision set for Thursday; drama glut awaits on Sunday

As people increasingly watch favorite television shows on their own timetables and platforms, they are less beholden than ever to a network schedule. But timeslots still matter in the business of television, and where a show resides in a lineup can still be a key factor in its success or failure.

In a sure sign that the new TV season has arrived, there are some doozie DVR dilemmas in the coming week as the anticipated premieres of series — new and returning — face off.

Here’s a look at the three biggest showdowns of premiere week:

3.  Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m.

Breaking Bad” (AMC) vs. “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Homeland” (Showtime) and “Revenge” (ABC)

There are no blockbusters here, but there’s a little bit of something for every drama fan — at least those not watching football — as three returnees take on the finale of AMC’s acclaimed drama.

“Breaking Bad” has been on a ratings roll in the lead-up to its finale, hitting a series-high 6.4 million viewers last week — more than double what it was drawing at the close of last summer. And “Homeland” kicked off its second season a year ago with 1.7 million and then hit a series high of 2.3 million for its finale in December.

It’s odd that CBS-owned Showtime would slot the return of “Homeland,” its most critically acclaimed show, directly opposite the season premiere of the Eye’s critical fave, “The Good Wife” — but this is actually the second straight year it has done it.

This is a key season for “Revenge,” which lost some of its buzz in season two and has a new showrunner to go along with some key cast changes. The season premiere provides the sudser its best opportunity to win back over some frustrated viewers.

What will happen? Nothing will beat NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” on this night, but “Breaking Bad” figures to finish with series highs and lead among the dramas in young adults while dominating in all male categories. “Good Wife” should be the leader in total viewers, while “Revenge” likely will have the edge in young women.

2. Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m.

The Crazy Ones” (CBS) vs. “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC) vs. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) vs. “Glee” (Fox)

CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” and NBC’s “Michael J. Fox Show” are the fall’s most anticipated new comedies, “Grey’s Anatomy” is broadcast TV’s most popular drama among young adults (yes, still), and “Glee” is sure to attract more viewers than usual this fall as it is addresses the death of Corey Monteith’s character.

Robin Williams vehicle “Crazy Ones” and “Michael J. Fox” won’t face each other regularly, but thanks to some scheduling one-upsmanship, they will do battle on the opening Thursday of the season.

Back in May when CBS and NBC were prepping the release of their fall skeds, it was clear that neither network wanted to give its rival a clear shot with their new comedy. NBC scheduled “Michael J. Fox” for 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, figuring that it would likely go up against a new comedy on CBS. The Eye countered later that week by slotting “Crazy Ones” for 9 p.m. — its first comedy to premiere in the half-hour since “The Gregory Hines Show” on a Friday in 1997 — and slotting veteran “Two and a Half Men” at 9:30 against the Michael J. Fox program.

But the scheduling shenanigans didn’t stop there, as NBC announced in June that the premiere of “Michael J. Fox Show” would be an hour, from 9 to 10. This put the two new comedies head-to-head for a half-hour. And CBS followed about a month later by announcing that megahit 8 p.m. Thursday comedy “The Big Bang Theory” would get an hourlong premiere — bumping new comedy “The Millers,” which was to have bowed at 8:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the season, and providing “The Crazy Ones” with the network’s best possible lead-in.

“Grey’s,” which always does well with its season premieres and finales, will provide the comedies formidable competition for female viewers. And at Fox, the death of Monteith delayed “Glee’s” production schedule and pushed back the start of the show’s fifth season by a week. Now, Fox joins ABC, CBS and NBC in bowing its Thursday 9 p.m. show during premiere week.

And while Fox has said that the death of Monteith’s character Finn won’t be addressed until October, “Glee” figures to get more eyeballs than last year’s opening weeks.

What will happen? “Grey’s” and “Glee” will be the first choices to be DVR’d, while the new comedies will see more live and same-night viewing. “Crazy Ones” will have a huge lead-in advantage with “The Big Bang Theory” and should win, but it will be interesting to see how the second half of the NBC comedy fares against CBS vet “Two and a Half Men” at 9:30.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.

NCIS” (CBS) vs. “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (ABC)

The agents of “NCIS” take on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” in a drama showdown that figures to produce the largest combined audience of the week for any two entertainment series in the same time period — perhaps more than 30 million viewers.

Last year, “NCIS” opened to a whopping 20.4 million viewers, and while that would seem a tough number to match this fall, don’t count out TV’s most popular scripted series even if it is in its 11th season. Actress Cote de Pablo and her character Ziva are exiting the show in its second season, and anticipation of her good-bye figures to boost viewership for the first two weeks.

No network has been too aggressive in scheduling a drama opposite “NCIS”  — for good reason — but ABC feels it has something that can shore up a time period that has been a drag on its weekly average. Last season. the Alphabet struck out  in Tuesday’s leadoff hour with “The Taste” and “Splash.”

Joss Whedon’s “SHIELD” has been pretty well received by both critics and viewers who have seen the pilot. It should be the rare ABC drama that derives a sizable chunk of its audience from men, and there does figure to be some crossover audience between it and “NCIS.”

What will happen?: There’s nothing on television like “NCIS,” and its loyal audience will tune in on Tuesday and help CBS dominate the hour in total viewers. Still, “SHIELD” should open well — and give its veteran competition a tough battle in younger demos.

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  1. callmeatraitor says:

    I am one of those who will watch the first two weeks of NCIS and move on to SHIELD afterwards. I watched NCIS coz of Ziva/Cote, and I can’t bare to watch the show without her. Saw the AoS pilot and I got hooked in the first 5 mins. I’ve never been more excited in my life. The last time I was was when Ziva came on board NCIS. So there. Just my two cents

  2. Jenn says:

    I watched NCIS from the beginning but this sentence is past tense. I will not watch after Ziva leaves. I was drifting away from the show before they brought in Ziva and I can’t imagine watching without her. [Yes, that’s a paraphrase of Tony’s, “Can’t live without you, I guess.”]

    I look forward to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the course of two weeks they have been friendlier and kinder to their fans than the production team of NCIS has been in ten years.

    NCIS producers told me to “move on” from the loss of Ziva/Cote and I will– to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  3. Patrice says:

    I’ve been and NCIS fan from Day one the only thing that will change that is bad writing (or if Mark Harmon leaves the show because lets face it, Gibbs is the show)! I was there went Kate died (Sasha Alexander left the show) and people thought the show was done…I stayed on to watch. I can’t wait to see what the writers do with Ziva (Cote) leaving the show. NCIS has very creative writers and I’m sure they are going to give us great stories and a new character or two for us to grow to love just as much as we’ve grown to love Kate and Ziva. Afterall it’s NCIS not the Ziva show. So bring on Season 11 of NCIS! I can’t wait! PS. I’ll probably record AOS to see if it’s as good as they say…that’s was multi recording DVR’s are for after all.

  4. Marilu says:

    I agree there was a lot of focus on Ziva during season 10 of NCIS but you know what? it worked really well. NCIS was named tv’s no. 1 show (2012-2013 season). It’s gonna be interesting to see how things will unfold now that she’s gone. I’m certainly going to be there to watch.

  5. Easton says:

    As a long time NCIS fan, I am invested in these characters. So yes, I will absolutely be tuning in and supporting the show this year. There’s been so much made of Cote’s decision to voluntarily walk away (from more money per episode than most Americans make in a year) but I think it opens the door for new blood and storylines. There’s still a great group bringing it and the core is still in tact. NCIS had become entirely too Ziva centric so I’m hoping we’ll get back to a more balanced team/family ensemble.

  6. Anita says:

    From one of NCIS loyal fan: it’s very sad to be loyal when show doesn’t show any respect to it’s ex-lead actress.They all are saying they will get better without Ziva.Good luck with that .So, I guess, I am becoming ex-loyal fan.Hello AoS!

  7. J712 says:

    I considered myself one of those loyal NCIS viewers, however, with the dubious departure of Cote de Pablo, I’ll be switching to SHIELD, and I know several others who are planning to do the same.

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