Sked holes are trio’s fall woes

NBC needs to find 'Must-See' successor

HOLLYWOOD — Erasers will get a workout over the next couple of weeks as network execs make the finishing touches on their fall skeds.

Even for the top-rated webs, this annual ritual can be maddening. Putting on a programmer’s hat, here’s a look at what we might expect:

NBC

The Peacock added two solid drama pieces last season but now needs shows that could become the next generation of “Must-See TV” — both dramas and comedies.

Fortunately the net has what appears on paper, at least, three of the stronger drama projects for the fall: Rob Lowe law show “Lyon’s Den,” Las Vegas surveillance show “Casino Eye” and Alicia Silverstone as a professional matchmaker in “Miss Match.”

Wednesday and Friday at 8 are open (for “Lyon’s” and “Miss Match” respectively, perhaps?), with Sunday at 10 a good slot for “Casino Eye.” Net may opt for “Boomtown” in this hour, though, giving the decently performing series (3.7/9 in adults 18-49) a chance to rack up more critical acclaim and award noms prior to a second season.

On the comedy side, Heather Locklear starrer “Once Around the Park” looks solid for Tuesday, but aside from that, pickings look slim.

“Good Morning Miami” could return (perhaps on Tuesday), but the net needs to put its single best new comedy (hopefully with some male appeal) on Thursday at 9:30. “Miami” retained about 83% of its “Will & Grace” lead-in, but the net needs a fourth quality hit on Thursday — not a serviceable space-filler.

Another question mark is “Ed,” which finished the season well on Fridays and could be back there in the fall.

The flagship “Dateline” should remain Tuesdays at 10, although this is perhaps a ripe hour for a limited-run reality series as well.

Fox

Net is the hardest to map out for the fall, when its sked will look much different than now (no “American Idol,” for starters).

Shows on the bubble include “Cedric the Entertainer” (how about Sunday at 7?) and Friday dramas “Fastlane” and “John Doe.” One of these will probably be back and could shift nights.

With more weapons and fewer holes, Fox can now attack Thursday — either with an African-American or male slant. This season, it ranks fourth on Thursday with less than one-third of NBC’s 18-49 average.

Among potential new shows, net has a good mix of drama pilots, with Steven Bochco’s “NYPD 2069” a possibility for Sunday, and soap “The O.C.” possibly headed for Friday.

CBS

Net did what it had to do last year by shoring up Monday (“CSI: Miami”) and Thursday (“Without a Trace”) with dramas. Now it can afford to attack the other five nights, where some leaks have sprung.

Now that “Star Search” has faded, the net may need to save “Amazing Race” for the fall or try an untested reality concept.

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are wide open, with “60 Minutes” “48 Hours” and “The District” the best bets to survive on these respective nights. And Tuesday could stay intact, although it seems the right time to move something — perhaps “Judging Amy” to Friday at 10 to make room for David E. Kelley’s new drama.

Lacking programs with family appeal, net may want to try “The Price Is Right” or other unscripted programming Saturdays at 8 in place of “Touched by an Angel.”

On the bubble are “Hack,” “The Agency” and vet “JAG,” which could be replaced at some point by its spinoff.

Net likely will keep its Sunday movie franchise, where the focus should be on more uplifting, family-friendly fare to offset the heavy, edgy dramas elsewhere.

Next week: ABC, the WB and UPN

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