DVR Gridlock 2015-16: Tuesday Nights
[As in years past, this week, 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. I'm also probably gonna ignore that I have a fancy new six-tuner DVR that means that I really don't have to make choices anymore. This will assume that I make choices for my own sanity.]
ABC: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
CBS: "NCIS: New Orleans"
The CW: "iZombie"
FOX: "Scream Queens"
What's Changed: There were six half-hour comedies airing on Tuesday night at the start of last season and there are four half-hour comedies set to air on Tuesday nights this fall and there's no overlap between them. That's pretty remarkable if you think about it. Of last season's fall Tuesday comedies, "Mindy Project" has moved on to Hulu and "New Girl" is returning at midseason and the other four are dead. So it's no wonder that not only are networks doing new comedies on Tuesday, but they're doing comedies with a different focus on Tuesdays. Remember how FOX liked young-skewing female-centric comedies? Hello John Stamos, Fred Savage and Rob Lowe as the new faces of Tuesday comedy! Remember ABC's pair of twentysomething rom-coms? Hello Muppets and Huangs and a new family focus! And NBC? Well, NBC has abandoned intentional laughs for unintentional guffaws if reactions to the trailer for "Heartbreaker" are any indication. Only NBC knows why they're wasting the 9 p.m. post-"Voice" slot on a cliche-ridden medical dramedy with no chance of success. Why not move the Neil Patrick Harris variety show to 9 p.m. where it would be compatible with "The Voice" and push "Heartbreaker" to 10 p.m. when it'll be ready for cancellation in time for "Chicago Fire" to return? Or why not hold "Heartbreaker" for Wednesday nights when "Mysteries of Laura" runs out of episodes and then you could debut it in a slot in which critics have already learned to look away? Thus concludes my "Why does 'Heartbreaker' exist and why is NBC giving it a promising time period?" musing. Other big swings include FOX's "Scream Queens," which has been running advertisements for months already, at 9 p.m. and new dramas in "Limitless" and "Quantico" at 10 p.m.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: That's a lot of changes, but won't think that almost certainly won't change is that CBS' "NCIS" and "NCIS: New Orleans" will dominate Tuesday overall by absurdly wide measures, taking both the grizzled older demos, but also beating a bunch of things that we perceive to be "young-skewing," shows like "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," in the more juvenile demos. With "Person of Interest" apparently skewing too dark and serialized, CBS is going lighter and, almost certainly, more stand-alone with "Limitless," which brings Jake McDorman back to Tuesday night after last year's "Manhattan Love Story" failure. So CBS is going to win Tuesdays overall and it probably will win Tuesday in the 18-49 demo barring one of two things: I'm assuming "Heartbreaker" is going to bomb hard, but I could be wrong. If it somehow succeeds, that boosts "Chicago Fire" as well and NBC keeps 10 p.m. tight and probably wins the night in the key demo. That's one possibility. The other possibility? "The Muppets" is a huge hit for ABC, big enough to raise the already solid "Fresh Off the Boat" and even gets "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." from a 1.5-ish in the key demo to a 1.8-ish or 1.9-ish, which would then beat "NCIS: New Orleans" (again, *not* overall). With a strengthened lead-in, "Quantico" would then maybe be able to capitalize on international sensation Priyanka Chopra to deliver a robust 18-49 rating, propelling ABC to a Tuesday night shocker. I think there's a better chance of the latter ("Muppets"/"Quantico" outperform expectations) than the former ("Heartbreaker" doesn't bomb). Last season, ABC tapped into the rarely targeted Asian-American audience with "Fresh Off The Boat" and scored, but "Cristela" was apparently less successful. We've simply never had a massive Bollywood star with 9.8 million Twitter followers toplining a network procedural before, so there's no way to adequately predict whether Chopra can turn "Quantico" into a hit or not. And FOX has been down for so long that anything is going to look like up to them and when your standard is "Utopia" and "Weird Loners"? Yup! This new comedy block and a fun Ryan Murphy show are almost guaranteed to generate some improvements. The 8 p.m. block will test the nostalgic machismo of its two leads and the 9 p.m. show will test Murphy's proclivity to burn hot and fast, but "Weird Loners" was doing a 0.6 in the demo, so FOX can be patient. And The CW? "The Flash" and "iZombie" will just do what they do.
My Predicted DVR: It's actually a really busy night, which I couldn't say last year. "The Flash" is my 8 p.m. lock and since "Fresh Off The Boat" is also a lock, "The Muppets" will get a little extra rope, especially since I'm already casually optimistic. "Grandfathered" and "The Grinder" will also get DVR slots, at least for a couple months audition, because I find that I'm really good at staying on top of half-hour shows, as opposed to hour-longs. "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "iZombie" will both get DVR slots and the chance of my watching at least a season of "Scream Queens" is high. "Harper's Island" with sorority girls! Who wouldn't watch? And at 10 p.m.? Well, both "Quantico" and "Limitless" will get a shot. I'm not sold on either without qualification, but I'm also not checked out on either. After all, I watched at least four episodes of "Limitless" when it was called "Intelligence."
How have the new schedules impacted your Tuesday?