Mr. TV: A Betting Man

It’s finally the official start of the 2010-11 TV season, and since I spent a good part of the summer handicapping the new series, I thought I’d lay down some odds on hits and misses.  

My spread is based on a scale of 1-1 (most likely to succeed) to 10-1 (least likely). I take into account the competition, lead-in support (excluding 8 p.m. occupants), prior time-period performance, and general buzz.

Unlike last season, when I gave ABC’s Modern Family even odds (but was wrongly negative about Fox’s Glee), there are no “sure things” this season.  Most likely to make the grade at 2-1 odds are CBS’ revival of Hawaii Five-O, NBC’s Law & Order: Los Angeles and ABC sitcom Better With You.

Although Hawaii Five-O airs out of untested lead-in comedy Mike & Molly, a good ensemble cast, picturesque Honolulu and that catchy theme song are certainly reason enough to watch. A new cast and setting could also ignite the familiar Law & Order: Los Angeles (which is airing out of Law & Order: SVU on Wednesday), while Better With You is positioned well out of relocated The Middle and into Modern Family.

Airing out of the live Dancing With the Stars results show, the new ABC Tuesday crime solver, Detroit 1-8-7, should have odds of better than 4-1. But its rivals—CBS’ The Good Wife and NBC’s Parenthood—are already proven, and feel-good dance into skulduggery might not be the best flow. More compatible are new CW action-adventure Nikita and its lead-in, sophomore The Vampire Diaries, on Thursday, but the competition (Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, CBS’ CSI and NBC’s The Office) keeps the odds at only 4-1. Ditto for new NBC drama The Event, seen by some as the next 24 but facing a tough go against ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and CBS’ Two and a Half Men.

Unless The Event clicks, new lead-out drama Chase (8-1) doesn’t stand a chance. Also at 8-1 odds are Fox’s Lonestar, a Dallas-like serial with the impossible task of staying afloat in the highly populated Monday 9 p.m. hour; and CW cheerleader drama Hellcats, which is unlikely to make much of an impact despite airing out of America’s Next Top Model (and despite its respectable sampling on Sept. 8).

Smack in the middle at 5-1 odds are CBS’ $#*! My Dad Says, Blue Bloods and aforementioned Mike & Molly, ABC’s legal-themed The Whole Truth, and The Office lead-out Outsourced on Thursday, which taps into what could be a depressing subject for many viewers.

$#*! My Dad Says could survive if relocated lead-in The Big Bang Theory resonates, but cantankerous William Shatner would play funnier if the show were on cable. The Whole Truth could benefit in the Wednesday 10 p.m. hour by facing unproven competition (CBS’ The Defenders and NBC’s Law & Order: Los Angeles), but the lead-in support from sophomore Cougar Town is iffy. Cop drama Blue Bloods faces an uphill battle in its Friday slot; if CBS had positioned it out of Criminal Minds on Wednesday (instead of painfully generic The Defenders), it would have a better shot. If the pilot for The Defenders had looked better, the odds wouldn’t be 6-1, but CBS could put this protected time period to better use.

I’ve heard ABC’s No Ordinary Family on Tuesday at 8 p.m. compared to NBC’s Heroes. But I give it 8-1 odds because it seems to lack identity, and facing CBS’ NCIS is a killer. Wednesday NBC anchor Undercovers is slightly better at 7-1, but its fellow J.J. Abrams project, Alias, was never a hit.

Least likely to succeed, at 10-1 odds, are ABC’s My Generation, which seems like a rehash of other failed relationship dramas; Friday-night NBC filler School Pride; and Fox’s Tuesday 9-10 p.m. comedies Raising Hope and Running Wilde.  While the lead-in support of relocated Glee certainly helps, Fox has never aired sitcoms in the hour, and it’s a suicide mission going up against Dancing With the Stars, CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles and The Biggest Loser on NBC.

Let the games begin.