That last season was a disaster from a development standpoint is self-evident; only 10 freshman series were deemed worthy of renewal, leaving every network other than CBS with a schedule more shot full of holes than Sonny Corleone’s Continental. The good news is, the 2013-14 slate is much more promising, as each of the five English-language broadcast nets appears to be in possession of at least two new hits. These five time slots will go a long way toward determining bragging rights for the fall.
The Blacklist (NBC) vs. Hostages (CBS)
Monday 10-11 p.m.
Two of the season’s best drama pilots square off in what could very well prove to be a zero-sum game. Leading out of The Voice, The Blacklist represents NBC’s best shot at a scripted megahit since Heroes bowed in 2006. Unfortunately, it faces a worthy opponent in CBS’ ripsnortin’ crime thriller, Hostages. Give NBC the edge, although the DVR will lift both.
The Voice (NBC) vs. Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Monday 8-10 p.m.
Dancing With the Stars last season eked out a stiletto-thin ratings victory over The Voice (15 million viewers vs. 14.4 million), but the more youthful NBC show doubled the celebrity hoofers’ 18-49 deliveries (5.2 to 2.6). The Voice will dominate the night, although those who don’t care for musical histrionics may head over to Fox’s Sleepy Hollow.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) vs. NCIS (CBS)
Tuesday 8-9 p.m.
In the rush to lionize S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s become easy to lose sight of the challenges facing the show. If NCIS and its 22.7 million acolytes aren’t cause for concern, there’s the question of how the female-skewing net will attract Joss Whedon/Marvel fanboys. While S.H.I.E.L.D. very likely will win the demo, the outcome is far from preordained.
The Goldbergs (ABC) vs. New Girl (Fox)
Tuesday 9-9:30 p.m.
Starring Jeff Garlin as a bellowing ‘80s patriarch, The Goldbergs = The Wonder Years + screaming + J. Geils songs. Bowing in the plum post-S.H.I.E.L.D. slot, the newbie faces Fox’s returning champ. Zooey Deschanel and the boys returned last week to a solid 2.9 rating; with little demo overlap, both shows are free to go about their business.
Sean Saves the World (NBC) vs. The Crazy Ones (CBS)
Thursday 9-9:30 p.m.
While it’s a mystery why NBC elected to schedule Sean Saves the World at 9 p.m. (a time slot that has The Michael J. Fox Show written all over it), Sean may not thrive long enough for that to become an issue. CBS has a lot riding on its long-awaited Thursday comedy block, and the net’s promotional advantage alone gives Mork and Buffy the edge.