With radically altered prime-time lineups at ABC and Fox, football on Thursday at CBS, and an NBC slate without its Thursday comedy block, the season is shaping up to be anything but the same old story. The only network that didn’t really change much was The CW, which is sticking with its costumes-and-cheekbones formula. Here are our matchups to keep an eye on:
Thursday 9 p.m. (2015)
The Blacklist vs. Scandal
The biggest new drama of this season dukes it out with ABC’s mega-hit, Scandal. Yes, buyers are skeptical—ABC is taking on one of NBC’s strongest shows—but ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee says he is confident in Shonda Rhimes.
Thursday 9 p.m.
Two and a Half Men vs. Bad Judge
Yup, 9 p.m. Thursday again. Even the comedy programming has competition on Thursdays. It’s the last season for CBS’ Two and a Half Men, but the show still draws 3 million in 18-49s; in NBC’s corner are Funny or Die guys Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Tuesday 10 p.m.
Forever vs. Person of Interest
Forever, ABC’s contribution to the growing body of crime series not technically titled Sherlock Holmes, dukes it out with CBS’ Person of Interest. This time slot was scripted drama’s Bermuda Triangle last year.
Tuesday 8 p.m.
Selfie and Manhattan Love Story vs. The Voice
The trailer for ABC’s Selfie was shaky, and it (and its partner in the hour, Manhattan Love Story) will have a tough time taking on NBC’s The Voice with no lead-in on Tuesday.
Wednesday 9 p.m.
Modern Family and Black-ish vs. Red Band Society
Untried new ABC comedy Black-ish goes up against Fox’s untried new dramedy Red Band Society; Black-ish’s Larry Wilmore has a full plate —he’s taking Stephen Colbert’s place next year—but it also counts Modern Family as a lead-in. Red Band has Steven Spielberg behind it, but his recent TV track record ain’t great (remember The River? And Smash?).
Watch These, Avoid Those Starring Hillary Clinton as Herself
Madam Secretary CBS Sun. at 8
A high degree of realism and solid casting (thumbs up to Tea Leoni and Zeljko Ivanek). We’re optimistic.
The Flash The CW Tues. at 8
The CW gets even superheroier with this show. We’re fine with that. Was that Professor Zoom?
Marry Me NBC Tues. at 9
A winning combo of cringe-comedy and rom-com. Casey Wilson’s hilarious.
The McCarthys CBS Thurs. at 9.30 starting Oct. 30
Gay guys don’t get sports! Ethnic families=clingy! LOL.
State of Affairs NBC Thurs. at 10 starting Nov. 17
Basically the cartoon version of CBS’ Madam Secretary, with more wingnutty Benghazi-ish nonsense.
Selfie ABC Tues. at 8
An ... “update” of My Fair Lady. Expect to see the angry ghost of George Bernard Shaw around the ABC offices.
SPANISH-LANGUAGE BROADCAST UPFRONTS
Time for a victory lap ... After shelling out fully $600 million for rights to the 2018 and ’22 World Cups, Telemundo was understandably interested in making the biggest deal possible out of its new toy, while Univision promoted its rapidly expanding platform base, notably digital portal Flama, cable network El Rey (co-owned with Robert Rodriguez) and Fusion, the cable news network launched with ABC last year. And Univision offered one thing no other network, broadcast or cable, had this year: evp of ad sales Steve Mandala dancing and rapping (step it up, everybody else).
One thing Univision and Telemundo did have in common, however, was the notion to offer viewers a new music competition show—Univision will have La Banda, produced by American Idol’s Simon Cowell, and Telemundo is offering Yo Soy El Artista.
They’re different takes—La Banda is more traditional, and Artista is more about its competitors’ personalities—but not that different. Novela standout (seriously): Telemundo’s Los Miserables.