Fall TV lineups locked — for now

A closer look at the networks upfront choices

After rolling out their fall lineups in New York last week, the nets are closely examining every half-hour on the grid to see if what they’re planning still makes sense in light of the competition.

We’ve seen a few post-upfront sked tweaks in recent years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some this time around.

Will somebody budge, for example, so there are not three broadcasters going head to head with reality programming on Tuesdays, or three nets looking for laughs in Wednesday’s opening hour?

One thing’s for sure: The nets aren’t sitting idly by on Thursday, the night that’s long been home to many of television’s top series but has recently sagged some.

Next fall will see CBS and Fox shift their top new series of this season to Thursday, while ABC and CW try to strengthen the night’s opening hour with high-profile rookies.

At first glance — and perhaps not surprisingly, since they come from positions of strength — CBS and Fox made the best moves in setting their fall skeds, but ABC also appears to have improved itself even if its flow on some nights is questionable.

NBC’s sked, meanwhile, makes sense based on the little it has to work with, but the net seems hamstrung by not being able to sked dramas at 10 o’clock on weeknights.

Here’s an early analysis of the fall lineups:

ABC

The biggest roll of the dice is the Alphabet’s all-new Wednesday lineup, featuring four comedies and a drama. Although the laffer rollout is a huge risk, auds will certainly tune in for their premieres, and it’s the best shot the net has at making some comedy noise.

And if two of the comedies are working by midseason, the net could collapse them down to one hour and then plug “Lost” in at 9 p.m. in January.

ABC might have considered reversing its Tuesday and Wednesday skeds since there’s no comedy on Tuesday to compete with, and there are two other nets also going all reality from 8 to 10. But the Alphabet must have wanted to keep “Dancing With the Stars” on consecutive nights.

Sci-fi drama “Flash Forward” may or may work on Thursday, but the skedding is aggressive and reps a good attempt to create some heat at 8. One of the reasons why 9 p.m. drama “Grey’s Anatomy” is the most DVR-ed show is that it didn’t have a strong lead-in, thus making it an island on the network.

If “Flash” doesn’t flourish, ABC should consider the more compatible “Eastwick” here.

CBS

As is usually the case with the Eye, every sked change makes sense — starting with the move to dump “Without a Trace,” opening up real estate on a sked with few holes.

The net also is wisely taking advantage of having the strongest new shows of the last two seasons (“The Big Bang Theory” and “The Mentalist”), shifting both to timeslots where they might explode.

The “Mentalist” could become TV’s top-rated 10 p.m. drama, while “Big Bang” will grow at 9:30 while providing a stronger lead-in for “CSI: Miami” — and Eye supremo Leslie Moonves has been vocal about his prediction/desire to crush NBC’s new “Jay Leno Show” on this night.

As for the new shows, none of the packages (the combo of concept and leads) look especially promising, but at least they’re in low-risk timeslots and surrounded by successful skeins.

“Three Rivers” is the longest shot, opposite (an admittedly sliding) “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday. Not helping its cause is that in much of the country, it will start late many weeks due to football overruns and the net’s unwillingness to collapse “60 Minutes” and “Amazing Race.”

NBC

If ABC doesn’t shift its Tuesday and Wednesday lineups, the Peacock should seriously consider it.

Such a move would be easier for the Peacock (affecting just three shows) and would allow the strong “Biggest Loser” to face considerably less reality on Wednesday. It would also give both “Parenthood” and “Law & Order: SVU” more breathing space to operate on Tuesday.

(“SVU” would be going up against the untested “NCIS” spinoff rather than the proven vet “Criminal Minds”).

Net made the right move in cancelling “Medium,” a veteran show with no growth potential. Of course, you could say the same thing about “Law & Order,” but that show is sticking around to break the “Gunsmoke” longevity record.

The Monday and Friday drama pairings sound good enough, with “Trauma” a possible sleeper on Monday.

The Saturday sked is again a waste, with repeats that will draw smaller Nielsens than some cable nets most weeks.

If you’re not airing scripted programs at 10 p.m. or Sundays, why not try something here? This should be one of Leno’s nights, which would mesh with “Saturday Night Live.”

Fox

The “Fringe” skedding makes sense since it figures to pair nicely with “Bones” and gives the net a young scripted presence in an hour opposite fading dramas.

Friday is a mess, but new 8 p.m. comedy “Brothers,” starring former NFL star Michael Strahan, could do OK, and could grab some disenfranchised CW viewers after that net dumped its African-American fronted comedies on this night.

It’s nice to see Fox is willing to lose ratings points for its top shows to help grow younger series. “House” is staying at 8 on Monday (providing a nice lead-in for “Lie to Me”), and the “Idol” results show looks to be locked in to 8 p.m. in January — though the net has promised this before.

Putting “Glee” on Wednesday behind “So You Think You Can Dance” is a good move, but two hours of “Dance” on Tuesday is a bit much.

CW

The sked is cohesive except for the shift of “Smallville” — the net’s top scripted program — to Friday as the lead-in to a repeat of “America’s Next Top Model.”

Moving “Smallville” (in what’s likely its last season) to Friday to make room for the good-looking “Vampire Diaries” on Thursday is one thing, but not pairing “Smallville” with something like “Reaper” doesn’t make sense. Even repeats of “Vampire Diaries” would be better than “Top Model.”

The skedding of the new “Melrose Place” after the new “90210” and model drama “Beautiful Life” after “Top Model” make sense, but the net needs to look outside the box to better represent a wider swathe of the 18-34 crowd.

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