Special Report: Idol Thoughts

NEW YORK Without Fox mega-hit American Idol clogging up the fourth-quarter airwaves, the window of opportunity is considerably greater Wednesday at 9 p.m. when two of the higher-profile new dramas—Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice on ABC and a remake of 1970s classic The Bionic Woman on NBC—will face each other. But is there much room for either opposite CBS sleeper success Criminal Minds? The positive news for Private Practice is the support from Grey’s Anatomy, with expected crossover episodes. On the flipside, the high expectations might backfire if the show is not exceptionally good. Plus, there’s unproven lead-in support from Pushing Daisies, a procedural fantasy crime drama. A second night of Deal or No Deal gives The Bionic Woman a potentially stronger cushion. But is the remake of any classic series ever really good? And won’t NBC’s overemphasis on other science-fiction dramas hurt the chances for this tale of a woman with sudden superhuman abilities? In all likelihood it will. Opposite the male-oriented Criminal Minds, soapy Private Practice has a greater chance of attracting female viewers who can’t get enough of Grey’s Anatomy. The Bionic Woman might attract some curiosity seekers, but the novelty is likely to quickly wear thin. The 1976-78 series, in fact, was not a long-running hit. So, I’m betting on Kate Walsh and her star-studded supporting cast (Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman, Tim Daly) in Private Practice. But once Idol returns in fourth quarter, stand back. Even a declining American Idol is a force to be reckoned with.