IN A TIME PERIOD populated with four established dramas (including NBC’s hastily relocated Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which was originally scheduled Friday at 10 p.m. after losing its Sunday berth to football), ABC was wise to counterprogram with comedies. Let’s Rob… follows an aging janitor who recruits a group of misfits for a heist to finance the opening of a bar (the target being Mick Jagger’s New York apartment), while Help Me Help You stars Ted Danson as the self-obsessed leader of a therapy group. The sitcoms benefit from leading out of the relocated Dancing With the Stars, but no one should expect Let’s Rob… to fully maintain Dancing’s audience. ABC would have a better shot keeping viewers at 9 by putting Help Me Help You in the slot, considering Danson’s past sitcom successes and the show’s more recognizable storyline. But going for laughs in a time period drenched with drama could give the comedies a leg up over Law & Order: Criminal Intent no matter how they fall in the schedule. Although shifting Criminal Intent out of Sunday moves it away from ABC’s Desperate Housewives (year-to-year, the drama is down by 1.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research), facing Fox’s red-hot House and CBS sleeper The Unit could be an even worse fate. Oh, and CW fan favorite Veronica Mars airs there, too!
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