Who will win TV's biggest primetime wars? EW.com takes a knowing look at ''The Sopranos'' vs. ''Alias,'' ''CSI: Miami'' vs. ''Crossing Jordan,'' and five other nightime fights
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Credit: Sopranos: Barry Wetcher; Alias: Reisig and Taylor
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Who will win TV’s biggest primetime wars?

As the networks kick off the new season, there are time-slot showdowns nearly every night of the week that will test your remote-control loyalties (and your VCR-programming capabilites). Here’s EW.com’s handicapping of fall TV’s biggest battles.

“The Sopranos” vs. “Alias” (9 p.m.)
We’ve waited a year and a freakin’ half for new episodes of HBO’s Mafia-riffic drama — and in the meantime, we’ve gotten hooked on ABC’s high-speed adventures of secret agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner). But the pay-cable net airs Tony’s whacky antics several times a week, so you can track it down later. If you want to catch up with ”Alias,” you’ve got to suffer the indignity of dialing up the ABC Family Channel.
WATCH ”Alias”

“CSI: Miami” vs. “Crossing Jordan” (10 p.m.)
It’s bound to be a bloodbath when forensics dramas go head-to-head. NBC’s ”Jordan” succeeded in its freshman year as a female-friendly alternative to ”Monday Night Football,” but the big-buzz ”CSI: Miami” will provide stronger competition than CBS’ lame ”Family Law” did. Plus, in terms of star power, Kim Delaney (”Miami”) vs. Jill Hennessy (”Jordan”) is a draw, but ”NYPD Blue” bad boy David Caruso blows away ex-”White Shadow” Ken Howard.
WATCH ”CSI: Miami”

“Frasier” vs. “Life With Bonnie” (9 p.m.)
Kelsey Grammer has been playing Dr. Frasier Crane for nearly 20 years — and it shows. Even David Hyde Pierce’s Niles doesn’t have the same snap since he’s settled down with Daphne (Jane Leeves). Bonnie Hunt’s ABC farce is the best of a weak fall-sitcom bunch, but it’s still a fresher alternative to ”Frasier.”
WATCH ”Life With Bonnie”

Image credit: Damon Wayans: Bob D’Amico; Bernie Mac: Fox QUALITY CONTROL Both Damon Wayans’ (left) and Bernie Mac’s shows have African-American casts, but the comparisons end there

“My Wife and Kids” vs. “The Bernie Mac Show” (8 p.m.)
Much ink has been spilled over the matchup between these African-American family sitcoms, but to me, it’s no contest. Damon Wayans’ ABC groaner trots out only the most tired clichés, while Mac’s Fox screamer has nearly reinvented the genre. Not for nothing was Mac nominated for a best actor Emmy — and ”Mac” for a writing Emmy.
WATCH ”The Bernie Mac Show”

“ER” vs. “Without a Trace” (10 p.m.)
Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) is dead, and so is his show. Sitting through ”ER” became a painful ordeal last season, but it was still preferable to CBS’ torpid CIA drama ”The Agency.” The missing-persons mystery ”Trace” flows beautifully out of ”CSI” and boasts a killer cast, including Aussies Anthony LaPaglia (”Lantana”), Poppy Montgomery (”Blonde”), and Brit Marianne Jean-Baptiste (”Secrets & Lies”), all doing flawless U.S. accents. Take that, Alex Kingston.
WATCH ”Without a Trace”

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” vs. “Robbery Homicide Division” (10 p.m.)
For die-hard ”Homicide: Life on the Street” addicts like me, the solidly crafted ”SVU” has been like methadone, providing a much-needed fix on Fridays at 10 p.m. Hell, it’s even got Richard Belzer reprising his role as Det. John Munch. But executive producer Michael Mann’s new CBS cop show is the true inheritor of the ”Homicide” mantle — visually innovative and viscerally acted (the cast is ably led by ”Saving Private Ryan” vet Tom Sizemore). And like ”Homicide,” it’ll likely struggle to survive, so catch it while you can.
WATCH ”Robbery Homicide Division”

“America’s Most Wanted” vs. “The District”
As if. Go rent a movie.

Who do you think will win the fall season’s biggest TV showdowns?

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