Schedule Spitball: Predicting the Networks’ Fall Lineups

 

It has never been harder to predict the network schedules, as the number of series (including many shorter-flight ones) has increased exponentially in recent years and networks seem more willing to stick with lower-rated shows for a variety of reasons. So while it’s admittedly a futile exercise, it doesn’t keep us from trying to spitball once again. So, here’s a look at one way things could play out:

ABC

After strengthening the Thursday 10 p.m. hour last fall with “How to Get Away With Murder,” a priority for ABC this fall is to bolster the final hour of primetime on other nights.  “Quantico” and “Wicked City,” both of which should have some male appeal, would be good fits to close Tuesday and Wednesday. And though “Castle” is heading into the homestretch of its run, it’s more important that ABC establish stronger Tuesday and Wednesday 10 p.m. dramas, so the long-running mystery series stays put on Monday for now.

As for comedy, it’s tempting to solidify Tuesday by moving “The Middle” there and giving “The Goldbergs” the Wednesday lead-off spot, but the Wednesday block is clicking and the specter of Fox’s “Empire” makes launching a Wednesday comedy an especially difficult task. Instead, “Fresh Off the Boat” could be paired on Tuesdays with either “The Muppets” or “Uncle Buck,” though the latter is said to being eyed for midseason. (Of course, there’s also the possibility that ABC adjusts its Tuesday/Wednesday comedy configuration based on when and where “Empire” lands, since Fox is among the first networks to announce its lineup.)

Ken Jeong multi-cam “Dr. Ken” might be the best choice to pair with “Last Man Standing” on Friday.

In addition to four new shows, ABC could also launch a re-booted “Secrets and Lies” for the fall. Ryan Phillippe, who was the murder mystery’s big draw during its first season this spring, wouldn’t return, but the format worked well enough to think that the right casting could produce more solid ratings in an hour that’s especially tough in the fall opposite football and “The Walking Dead.” Joan Allen-fronted “The Family” sounds right for this timeslot in the spring (getting a big Oscars push), and the soapy “Nashville” could take over the “Revenge” slot closing out Sunday.

“The Catch” sounds like the ideal show to share the Thursday 10 p.m. timeslot with “How to Get Away With Murder.” And while the Shonda shows rest, maybe something like “Boom” and “Kings of Prophets” could work as short-run series on the night.

MONDAY
Dancing With the Stars – 8 p.m.
Castle – 10 p.m.

TUESDAY
The Muppets – 8 p.m.
Fresh Off the Boat – 8:30 p.m.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – 9 p.m.
Quantico – 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
The Middle – 8p.m.
The Goldbergs – 8:30 p.m.
Modern Family – 9 p.m.
Black-ish – 9:30 p.m.
Wicked City – 10 p.m.

THURSDAY
Grey’s Anatomy – 8 p.m.
Scandal – 9 p.m.
How to Get Away With Murder – 10 p.m.

FRIDAY
Last Man Standing – 8 p.m.
Dr. Ken – 8:30 p.m.
Shark Tank – 9 p.m.
20/20 – 10 p.m.

SUNDAY
America’s Funniest Home Videos – 7 p.m.
Once Upon a Time – 8 p.m.
Secrets & Lies – 9 p.m.
Nashville – 10 p.m.

 

CBS

Like ABC, CBS’ objectives include strengthening the 10 p.m. hour, which sagged some this season and will need to be strong to help support Stephen Colbert in the fall, and the Eye will also be looking to bring more younger viewers into the fold. “Supergirl” is an odd fit on the network, and the Eye’s best option may be to launch it immediately after the Super Bowl; that gives it a few months to find the best available regular timeslot for it.

Thursdays will be tricky because more NFL games on the night means that any CBS series will get at most five regular airings during the fall. For this reason, it makes sense to go with a night of all-returning shows and then make more aggressive moves at midseason. A final-season run of “CSI” sounds right at 10 p.m. because any CBS drama that has its premiere on the night in November figures to oppose ABC’s potent “How to Get Away With Murder” as well as a high-profile NBC drama (both of which will get a head start while CBS airs football).

The “Criminal Minds” spinoff might make more sense Tuesday at 10 instead of Wednesday at 10 after the original, as there’s only so much of this grisly violence viewers can take in one sitting. CBS could play it safe with “CSI: Cyber” on Wednesday, but the night needs some new energy, so something like “Limitless” or “Rush Hour” sounds right.

Since “Madam Secretary” and “The Good Wife” have to go somewhere, it makes sense to pair them again on Sundays, along with perhaps “Elementary.” “Amazing Race” could return to Fridays in the second half of the season, and “Person of Interest” could be part of the Sunday mix when “Madam Secretary” and “Good Wife” take a rest.

As for comedies, Jane Lynch-fronted “Angel From Hell” sounds like a good fit on Monday, paired initially with “The Big Bang Theory” and then with “2 Broke Girls.” The intriguing “Life in Pieces” figures to get a chance on Thursday later in the season.

It would have been nice to see “Battle Creek” get another chance (on Fridays at 9) but the network has officially pulled the plug. No new drama should have to bow Sundays at 10, especially in the spring with a weak, incompatible lead-in. “Battle” becomes the 13th straight 10 p.m. Sunday drama premiere on ABC, CBS or NBC to be canceled after one season — since “Brothers and Sisters” in 2006.

MONDAY
The Big Bang Theory/2 Broke Girls – 8 p.m.
Angel From Hell – 8:30 p.m.
Scorpion – 9 p.m.
NCIS: Los Angeles – 10 p.m.

TUESDAY
NCIS – 9 p.m.
NCIS: New Orleans – 9 p.m.
Criminal Minds spinoff – 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Survivor – 8 p.m.
Criminal Minds – 9 p.m.
Rush Hour10 p.m.

THURSDAY (after football)
The Big Bang Theory – 8 p.m.
The Odd Couple – 8:30 p.m.
Mom – 9
Mike & Molly – 9:30
CSI – 10

FRIDAY
Undercover Boss – 8 p.m.
Hawaii Five-0 – 9 p.m.
Blue Bloods – 10 p.m.

SUNDAY
60 Minutes – 7 p.m.
Madam Secretary – 8 p.m.
The Good Wife – 9 p.m.
Elementary – 10 p.m.

 

NBC

The network’s biggest priority in the fall is improving Thursday and surrounding “The Blacklist” with stronger shows. CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” will extend a full six weeks into the television season, keeping CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” off the night and giving NBC a chance to reconnect with a comedy audience on Thursday. The “Coach” reboot paired with multi-generational family comedy “Crowded” give the Peacock its best shot here. And the mystery/conspiracy drama “Blindspot” may be a good fit behind “The Blacklist,” with “Chicago Med” an option at midseason.

Tuesdays at 9 p.m. remain the best chance for NBC to launch comedies with some support (from “The Voice”), but the music contest is probably also the best way to open the Neil Patrick Harris variety show, so it gets the nod in the fall. New comedies could air after “The Voice” on Tuesday in the spring, and “Neil Patrick,” if successful, could launch comedies while “The Voice” is on hiatus.

“The Voice” will once again also lead into a new Monday drama, with undercover-cop series “Shades of Blue,” starring Jennifer Lopez, a seemingly good fit here. The “Heroes” update “Heroes Reborn” could work either leading off Wednesday or as a lead-in to “Grimm” on Friday, but the higher-profile slot is probably more likely, so “Biggest Loser” heads to Friday.

A midseason Friday lineup could consist of “The Mysteries of Laura,” “Dateline” and Dick Wolf’s new live law and order reality show, “You the Jury.” Of course, Wolf could also achieve a Shonda Rhimes-like feat and have a whole night of shows from him if “You the Jury” kicks off Wednesday and leads into “Law & Order: SVU” and “Chicago PD.”

Overall, six shows is a lot to launch in the fall, but NBC needs to take some swings, and perhaps the Neil Patrick Harris show and “Heroes” could bow a few weeks after the others.

MONDAY
The Voice – 8 p.m.
Shades of Blue – 10 p.m.

TUESDAY
The Voice – 8 p.m.
Neil Patrick Harris – 9 p.m.
Chicago Fire – 10

WEDNESDAY
Heroes Reborn – 8 p.m.
Law & Order: SVU – 9 p.m.
Chicago PD – 10 p.m.

THURSDAY
Coach – 8 p.m.                                                                   
Crowded – 8:30 p.m.
The Blacklist – 9 p.m.
Blindspot – 10 p.m.

FRIDAY
The Biggest Loser – 8 p.m.
Dateline – 9 p.m.
Grimm – 10 p.m.

SUNDAY
Sunday Night Football – 7-11 p.m.

 

Fox

Some years, Fox’s 15-hour schedule falls into place easier than its rivals — but this isn’t one of those years. With event series like “The X Files” and the mystery of when and where “Empire” might land, it’s more of a coin toss than ever.

Two picks that make some sense would be “Minority Report” paired with “Gotham” on Monday and the comedic horror hour “Scream Queens” as a lead-in to comedies “Grinder” (with Rob Lowe) and “New Girl” on Tuesday. Fox could expand to four comedies in January (when “The Voice” is on a break), with the John Stamos newbie “Grandfathered” and “The Guide to Surviving Life” joining the night. And “Bordertown” could join the Sunday lineup at midseason.

Conventional wisdom — and common sense — says Fox wants to get “Empire” back on the air as soon as possible, but assuming it returns to Wednesdays for a roughly 16-episode season, a January start date makes the most sense. Fox won’t want to mess with its new crown jewel, and unlike the fall, when multiple Wednesdays could be gobbled up postseason baseball (and there’s also the lightly-watched night before Thanksgiving), a January premiere would allow it to run for more than three months without a break or any real roadblocks. There’s also the possibility that it bows in the fall but still airs most of its episodes in 2016.

“Sleepy Hollow” and newbie “Lucifer” could make for a scary pairing of limited-run series on Wednesday that could be contained to the fall to make way for “Empire.” On Thursday, Fox could air some two-hour “MasterChef Junior” episodes and then incorporate its six-hour “X Files” miniseries to the night as a November sweeps event.

MONDAY
Gotham – 8 p.m.
Minority Report – 10 p.m.

TUESDAY
Scream Queens – 8 p.m.                      
The Grinder – 9 p.m.             
New Girl – 9:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Lucifer – 8 p.m.                                     
Sleepy Hollow – 9 p.m.

THURSDAY
MasterChef Junior – 8 p.m.
The X-Files – 9 p.m.

FRIDAY
Hell’s Kitchen – 8 p.m.
Bones – 9 p.m.

SUNDAY
The Simpsons – 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 8:30 p.m.
Family Guy – 9 p.m.
The Last Man on Earth – 9:30 p.m.

 

CW

Both the much-anticipated “Flash”-“Arrow” spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow” and the hourlong comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (formerly a Showtime pilot) seem likely for midseason, so the net could focus most of its fall energy on launching newbie “Cordon” behind top show “The Flash” and re-launching decent midseason performer “iZombie” on Thursday. Friday remains something of a dumping ground for second-tier shows, so some combination of “America’s Next Top Model,” “Reign” and “The 100” would make sense.

At midseason, CW may want to try to keep “Legends of Tomorrow” away from any ABC Marvel show airing on Tuesday, so a post-“Arrow” slot on Wednesday could work. And “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” seems like a logical partner for “Jane the Virgin,” with perhaps “Originals” taking over the “Vampire” slot on Thursday.

MONDAY
The Originals – 8 p.m.
Jane the Virgin – 9 p.m.

TUESDAY
The Flash – 8 p.m.
Cordon – 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Arrow – 8 p.m.
Supernatural – 9 p.m.

THURSDAY
The Vampire Diaries – 8 p.m.
iZombie – 9 p.m.

FRIDAY
America’s Next Top Model – 8 p.m.
Reign – 9 p.m.

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