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Thursday, September 18, 2014

FALL PREVIEW 2014: Thursday

Thursday nights have a major move for ABC as one of TV's top shows moves to 9pm. NBC will be following suit in February with the same type of move but they have a patchwork lineup for now. Of course, CBS now has football for the first several weeks and its regular lineup won't premiere until the last week of October.

Past Thursday Previews: 2013    2012    2011    2010

8:00 Grey's Anatomy (11th season)

9:00 Scandal (4th season)
Thursday nights is Shonda nights for ABC with three straight dramas from the celebrated showrunner. After nearly a decade at 9pm, Grey's Anatomy slides an hour earlier. While it will certainly result in lower numbers for Grey's, it could fix ABC's long standing problem with the Thursday 8pm slot. If that happens, that's a win for them. The biggest move is Scandal moving to the prime 9pm slot. It shows that ABC is betting big on this show as it is the centerpiece to Shonda night and in the higher profile slot. ABC is hoping they are striking while the iron is hot like they did with Grey's years ago, and if it works, they'll be in good shape. One reason for the change was because they wanted to launch How to Get Away with Murder starring Viola Davis, and they're giving it Scandal's old slot. Early reviews seem to indicate that Scandal fans will like this one and that's a good sign. However, three hours of dramas rarely work so it seems like either 8pm or 10pm could have trouble. Maybe Shonda will continue to have the magic touch.

(through Oct 23) 

8:00 Thursday Night Football

(staring Oct 30)
8:00 The Big Bang Theory (8th season)
8:30 The Millers (2nd season)
9:00 Two and a Half Men (12th season)
10:00 Elementary (3rd season)
CBS has a big change early on and then it becomes more of the same in late October. The new Thursday Night Football package takes over the first month and a half of the season and that will obviously be a big gain for CBS even if the football numbers don't reach Sunday levels (which they won't). When football ends, it's back to almost the exact same lineup as the spring except for one change at 9:30pm where multi-camera family comedy The McCarthys replaces single camera workplace sitcoms The Crazy Ones and later Bad Teacher. McCarthys looks incredibly generic but it might fit better with the shows that precede it. The Big Bang Theory will come back from Mondays to lead off the night again. To everyone's surprise, CBS kept The Millers at 8:30pm despite pretty bad retention last year. This might speak more to their comedy development than anything else. The final season of Two and a Half Men airs at 9pm and then Elementary closes out the night. Overall, I think this lineup will be disappointing and down from last year once football ends because they didn't really do anything to spice it up.

8:00 The Biggest Loser (16th edition)

9:30 A TO Z
10:00 Parenthood (6th season)
Thursday nights are very temporary for NBC as they have big new plans for this night at midseason. In the fall is a real grab bag of shows. The Biggest Loser starts things off at 8pm, While it'll likely be a down year for the show, it should be a big improvement in the troublesome timeslot. At 9pm is a pair of new comedies and they really seem like placeholders because NBC has already announced its plan to move The Blacklist to the 9pm slot in February. If either Bad Judge starring Kate Walsh or romantic comedy A to Z work, then they will have to find a place elsewhere. A to Z seems to be getting slightly better buzz but it'll be hard for these shows to not be dead shows walking. At 10pm is the sixth and final season of beloved but low-rated family drama Parenthood. There are only 13 episodes for its final run so expect the series finale sometime in January. As of now, NBC is planning for new drama Allegiance to take the 10pm slot when The Blacklist moves to 9pm.

8:00 Bones (10th season)

FOX is going with a crime themed night. Bones is on the move yet again in its 10th season. FOX has jerked this show around so much and it's getting pretty old so it may continue to trend down. However, FOX can throw it against The Big Bang Theory and/or football and they know they won't completely fall apart so that may be part of their thinking. At 9pm is a limited 10 episode series Gracepoint based on the acclaimed British series Broadchurch. Critics are saying it's a pale imitation of the British show but there's plenty of viewers (myself included) who haven't seen the British version so that's probably not a big factor. If worse comes to worse, it's only 10 episodes. If it somehow hits, I'm sure FOX will find a way to extend it. Networks always seem to be able to do that.

New Thursday Show Survival Chances
How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) - Good. I'm pretty high on Shonda night as a whole and I think this show will fit like a glove. I don't think it will reach Scandal heights but I think it could be in the mix as one of TV's top 10pm shows.

The McCarthys (CBS) - Fair. On paper, it looks like a generic and sophomoric sitcom. But the reason I gave it a "fair" rating is that could be exactly what Two and a Half Men fans are looking for when their show is over. Lead-in may matter in this case.

Bad Judge (NBC) - Poor. I don't see this as being anything other than a placeholder and on top of that, it looks like a terrible show. If this can even hang on until The Blacklist arrives on the night, I'd be surprised.

A to Z (NBC) - Poor. Similar to Bad Judge, but I'd give it an ever-so-slightly better chance for survival because it seems like a slightly better show. NBC may give this a chance on Tuesdays and that would up its chances but I'm still not confident.

Gracepoint (FOX) - Fair. I didn't know how to judge a limited series so I just went with "fair." I think it'll do well enough to not get yanked prematurely but not well enough for FOX to consider ways to extend the 10 episode series.

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