This is the time of year when execs at the broadcast networks hunker down to figure out their own fall schedules — and just as importantly, suss out their competitors. As usual, they won’t reveal their plans until they make them public next week in New York at the upfronts, but there’s already plenty of speculation about what changes will come in September:
- CBS could move the once-dominant CSI out of its Thursday berth to make way for The Mentalist (the network tested a switcheroo earlier this season) or a new drama like Hawaii Five-O. A tropical-based series as a lead-out for Survivor? Not a bad play.
- Fox has a big hole to fill on Mondays now that 24 is history: Will it pair House with new police drama Ridealong (from The Shield’s Shawn Ryan) starring Brotherhood’s Jason Clarke, or give it to one of its ailing freshman series like Human Target or Lie to Me? (Update: Lie and Target are expected to earn second season pickups.)
- NBC still hasn’t decided whether to renew struggling dramas Heroes, Law & Order, and Mercy, but promising new shows from J.J. Abrams (a Hart to Hart-type drama called Undercovers) and Jerry Bruckheimer (a crime tale dubbed Chase) should help fill the 10 p.m. slots. The Peacock is also expected to launch a new comedy block on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, since it has developed lots of new sitcoms, including Outsourced, about an India call center, and a semi-autobiographical sitcom starring Mad About You’s Paul Reiser.
- At ABC, Thursdays at 8 p.m. is probably up for grabs (does anyone really think FlashForward will get a second-season pickup?), while such middling performers as Brothers & Sisters and Private Practice could be moved to make way for new dramas like No Ordinary Family starring Michael Chiklis.
- As for The CW, Melrose Place is out and the low-rated dramas Life Unexpected and One Tree Hill aren’t exactly shoo-ins for renewal, so the No. 5 net will have holes to patch up on Mondays and Tuesdays come fall. Fortunately, The CW has a new version of the La Femme Nikita franchise in the works, ready to kick some butt.