Right after the fall schedule was announced last May, I posted a rundown of the most intriguing time-period battles and who I thought would win. Been a lot of buzz and fresh intel about these shows since, but I’m keeping my predictions the same — plus adding a several new entries. So here they are, below, and be sure to check the Inside TV blog every morning for the ratings to see how your favorite shows performed (of course, in today’s DVR era, time periods are less important than they were five years ago, but don’t be fooled: The slots still matter — just ask any show that faced off against American Idol, or one that had the pleasure of airing after it):
Who: CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 vs. NBC’s Playboy Club vs. ABC’s Castle
When: Mondays at 10 p.m.
Verdict: Castle pulled off a surprise victory in this slot by the end of last season against the first year of Five-0, gradually conquering a time period that it always lost to CBS when CSI: Miami was there (Castle was especially aided by Charlie Sheen’s freak out and Two and a Half Men going into repeats — thus weakening CBS’ 9 p.m. hour’s lead into Hawaii). So this is the rematch, with Hawaii bulking up with a ton of guest stars and adding Terry O’Quinn to the cast. Expectations are modest for Playboy Club. Hawaii will go big tonight when Men returns tonight, but in the coming weeks Castle will probably end up slightly on top. And now on Friday nights, it’s Chuck vs…
Who: Fox’s Fringe vs. NBC’s Grimm
When: Fridays at 9 p.m.
Verdict: It’s freaky science cop show up against fairy tales cop show. Fringe was struggling on Fridays this season and shows tend to drop in the ratings each year, so you can’t bet on it beating anything. And yet Grimm, which will presumably win the first few weeks, seems long odds for making it through the season. Fringe has the edge here, but might have to outlive its competition to claim the trophy.
Who: NBCs Chuck vs. ABC’s Extreme Makeover vs. CBS’ A Gifted Man
When: Fridays at 8 p.m.
Verdict: Little something for everybody in this time period, huh? Chuck‘s final season. ABC’s feel-good reality hit. A new Patrick Wilson drama about a doctor’s dead wife who won’t stop bothering him. CBS has the legacy here — hokey supernatural melodramas have a history of success on Friday nights, but ABC has a strong and established ratings history with Makeover. I’d give Gifted the edge at first, but suspect Makeover will lead a few weeks into the season (And Chuck? Well, given where it was performing last season … I’ve seen too many dramas move to Fridays to not know how that’s gonna go…).
Who: CBS The Good Wife vs. ABC’s Desperate Housewives
When: Sundays at 9 p.m.
Verdict: Much will be made of these two strong female dramas going head-to-head, and rightly so: This is a deceptively tough match-up to predict and industry insiders are split on the outcome. Housewives ratings are firmly higher than Good Wife, but they’ve also been going down. Moving the CBS drama to an earlier time period and giving it an occasional huge NFL lead-in could boost its audience (more women 25-54 watch NFL games than watch most CBS shows), whereas Housewives will have the long-shot Once Upon a Time as a lead-in. Prediction: Very close, but I suspect Housewives will maintain a slight lead.
Who: ABC’s Charlie’s Angels vs. CBS’ Big Bang Theory/How to Be a Gentleman
When: Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Verdict: Expect Big Bang to crush the first half hour of Angels, but then after that there’s very little buzz on Gentleman. The larger question is how much of a factor will be X Factor results show in the same slot.
Who: CBS’ The Mentalist vs. NBC’s Prime Suspect
When: Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Verdict: The Mentalist has been the strong and steady winner of this time period and shows no signs of giving up, though its CSI lead-in has been replaced with the less certain new show, Person of Interest. Prime Suspect has a great title, an ideal star, and has a very real chance of breaking out. But I’m going to say Mentalist because of NBC’s weak track record of launching new dramas.
Who: CBS’ Survivor vs. Fox’s The X Factor
When: Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Verdict: For years CBS bragged that Survivor always — always — won its time period. The last couple of seasons, the reality veteran has continued drawing strong numbers, yet has fallen to all-time lows. X Factor is poised to conquer this slot, if not the whole night.
Who: NBC’s The Sing Off vs. Fox’s Terra Nova
When: Mondays at 8 p.m.
Verdict: Whaa? But these two have nothing in common? (Except that they’re both big wild cards in the schedule). The much-delayed Terra Nova has gone through more behind-the-scenes surgery than any patient on House, while an upgraded version of the Sing Off is getting a big push after having performed solidly over the winter — and without any promotion. In other words, the more you think about this one, the more tricky the choice, so that’s why I’m including it here. I’m going to bet on Terra Nova, especially for the first half of its run, since Sing Off has to face Dancing With the Stars in the same time slot.
Who: CBS’ CSI vs. NBC’s Law & Order: SVU
When: Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Verdict: CSI has been wounded in recent years, but it’s not that wounded. Plus, it will have Criminal Minds as a lead-in and newcomer Ted Danson stepping in, while SVU will have Harry’s Law for an opening act (no offense, Kathy Bates).
What do you think? Got any other time-slot battles that you want to predict?
RELATED: Fall 2011-12 primetime TV schedule