Special Report: Men in Trees

Opposite nothing of a large-hit nature—CBS’ Ghost Whisperer, ABC’s relocated Men in Trees and the first half of The CW’s Friday Night Smackdown!—there is an opportunity for a new show to break through at 8 p.m. Too bad, though, that NBC and Fox might be canceling each other out with two frivolous reality/competitions. NBC’s The Singing Bee, which replaces summer game show 1 vs. 100, will challenge contestants to accurately sing along to the lyrics of popular songs, even when the band stops playing. Fox’s The Search for the Next Great American Band, by the creators of American Idol, will scour the country, seeking groups from all musical genres who think they have what it takes to make it big. In other words, American Idol dressed up like a band. Given the Idol ties, one assumes Next Great American Band would have a big advantage. But given the lack of success for former CBS summer competition Rock Star (first INXS, then Supernova), you have to wonder: Will viewers of all ages be able to relate to a show searching for a band at a time when original scripted programs are airing? Or will the expected young-adult target demo be out ringing in the weekend? Although Bee may sound silly, it’s reminiscent of game show classic Name That Tune. And after the end of a long work week, it might just be mindless enough to keep older viewers singing. On a night with deteriorating HUT levels, it makes sense to travel the unscripted route. But considering Friday’s growing challenge, both The Singing Bee and The Search for the Next Great American Band may only be temporary occupants.