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Hostages vs. The Blacklist
Mondays at 10 p.m.
A great tough battle: NBC's best new drama against CBS' best new drama. I'm very tempted to say Hostages will come out on top given CBS's drama track record — and the pilot is terrific. But The Blacklist is good too, with James Spader chewing the scenery AND has The Voice as its lead-in. Truly tough. Blacklist should win in the short term. (And don't count out ABC's Castle, which is tough in this slot too, but we're focusing on which will come out on top between these two rookies).
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Survivor vs. Revolution
Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
NBC's modest success story last season is losing its Voice lead-in, shifting to cold open Wednesday nights. Revolution will run against CBS's veteran reality show that's been sagging in recent years. With Revolution no longer getting that lead-in, and given the way it was shedding viewers last season, we expect it will drop quite a bit. Survivor: Blood vs. Water will drop too — yet will likely win over time.
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Dracula vs. Blue Bloods
Fridays at 10 p.m.
I keep saying this: Dracula could be this fall's dark horse. NBC gave it a very tough time slot, but it's fitting, given that fellow Gothic drama Grimm is the lead-in. The pilot is campy fun. Blue Bloods has been a solid-ish performer, but I suspect Drac will suck up bigger ratings.
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The Michael J. Fox Show vs. Two and a Half Men
Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.
Everybody thinks Michael J. Fox returning to Thursday nights will draw a crowd — initially. Two and a Half Men is shaking up its cast with the addition of Amber Tamblyn and losing its Big Bang Theory lead-in. But Men has proved itself a winner for a decade. If losing Charlie Sheen couldn't hurt this show, dumping Angus T. Jones sure won't.
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CSI vs. Ironside
Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
This entry feels a bit like cheating since I don't think for a moment that wheelchair-cop drama Ironside will win. NBC has had huge trouble filling its Wednesday slots and stalwart CSI always draws a reliable audience. Exact same story with CBS's Person of Interest in its new slot vs. NBC's Chicago Fire on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. NCIS
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
The first rule of time-period fight club: Buzz doesn't equal ratings. But ultra-buzzy Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will open big. This is a fun battle — the big sexy new superhero show up against primetime's most-watched veteran drama. Which crime fighting acronym team will prevail? S.H.I.E.L.D. will definitely win its premiere night among adults 18-49, and for a while after that. But NCIS is a grinder and will continue to defend this slot, easily scoring more total viewers while fighting tooth and nail to maintain a lead in the demo.