DVR Gridlock 2013-14: Thursday Nights
Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and Mary Queen of Scots spice up the night
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[Over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments.]
CBS: "The Big Bang Theory," "The Millers"
The CW: "The Vampire Diaries"
FOX: "The X Factor" (and then "Idol")
NBC: "Parks and Recreation," "Welcome to the Family"
ABC: "Grey's Anatomy"
CBS: "The Crazy Ones," "Two and a Half Men"
The CW: "Reign"
NBC: "Sean Saves the World," "The Michael J. Fox Show"
What's Changed: TV's most valuable night remains the night most likely to traumatize your hypothetical DVR. Unless you have a four-tuner DVR. In that case, if *any* night taxes your DVR, you probably watch too much TV. And yes, that's ME saying that. FOX is the only network keeping things the same on Thursdays, at least in the fall, with "X Factor" results that nobody watches leading into "Glee." "American Idol" results will return in the spring, leading into "Rake," at least for a while. ABC is 2/3rds stable with the resilient "Grey's Anatomy" leading into last season's surprise breakout "Scandal." The CW has given the post-"Vampire Diaries" slot to "Reign," which doesn't make much sense, but hey, they have to try something and you definitely can't say that they've ever failed with this kind of show before. While CBS is returning "The Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men" and "Elementary," the network is banking heavily on Robin Williams in "The Crazy Ones" and, to a lesser degree, Will Arnett in "The Millers." And, finally, NBC doesn't have a single show returning to the same slot as it was in last year, with "Parks and Rec" taking a different Thursday home, "Parenthood" coming over from Tuesdays and then a trio of variably high-profile new comedies, including the returns of past NBC favorites Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox. So yeah. That's a lot of changes.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: CBS is taking the biggest risk. No question about that. This is a night that CBS wins and there's no reason to think that "Big Bang Theory" isn't going to continue to dominate its time period and rank as TV's most watched comedy. However, CBS has taken a night with no big weaknesses and created the potential for a gaping hole in the middle. If "The Millers" fails, will that impact "Crazy Ones"? And if CBS' big bet on Robin Williams fails, will that weaken "Two and a Half Men"? And given that "Two and a Half Men" is very likely to provide a weaker lead-in than "Person of Interest" did, what impact will that have on "Elementary"? Don't get me wrong. I know why CBS is doing this. The network needs to recharge its comedy lineup with "How I Met Your Mother" departing and "Two and a Half Men" on borrowed time. Setting up a new Thursday block gives CBS more seeding opportunities and it also let the network put an established hit in its only struggling Tuesday hour. You can try stuff like this if you're the No. 1 network. And if you're NBC... You keep throwing things against the wall, but with what hope of stickage? Unlike a lot of observers, I like the idea of putting "Michael J. Fox" at 9:30 because if it works, it gives a boost to "Parenthood," while "Parenthood" seems fairly likely to do better than most of what NBC has fiddled with in this slot for years. I don't see much upside to "Sean Saves the World," though, while as much as I love "Parks and Rec," I don't see it as being a fruitful lead-in for "Welcome to the Family." But if NBC can build the back half of the night, that's big. ABC's decision to air "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" in the long-crippled 8 p.m. hour seems faulty. In that slot, the show gets zero benefit from its "Once Upon a Time" roots and goes against some of the toughest competition in TV. Programming "Wonderland" here shows a lot of faith on ABC's part, but why? The network hasn't even seen a full pilot. Dunno. I'm also baffled by the "Reign" thing. It doesn't seem to make much sense. Of course, I haven't watched "Reign." And as for "Rake," if FOX still believes "Idol" can function as an effective launch pad, this was a necessity, because FOX has no remaining dramas capable of serving as a viable lead-in, unless you count "Bones," which FOX apparently doesn't with the shift to Fridays.
My Predicted DVR: Yeah, Thursdays are impossible and it becomes an issue of relative convenience in off-network viewership. For example, because it's a breeze to watch NBC shows on Hulu, my 8 p.m. DVR will be "Vampire Diaries" and the CBS comedies, with "Wonderland" also getting a few weeks of Hulu viewing to prove itself. So that's impossible. But the 9 p.m. hour? No clue. Maybe "The Crazy Ones," "The Michael J. Fox Show" and "Grey's Anatomy"? Unless I somehow love "Reign"? And in the 10 p.m. hour, I'll be recording "Scandal" and "Elementary" and watching "Parenthood" on Hulu, probably. I guess.
How have the new schedules impacted your Thursdays?
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
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Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
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