Dance shows and musical contests are the reality shows that have enjoyed any growth over the last few years in audience size.
But as the first full week of the new television season begins, a pair of networks is using dance contests as anchors for their fall schedule. It will mark the first time that two programs like this have faced off during the early months of a new season, and their fortunes will be closely monitored.
ABC (WKRN-2) launches the ninth season of Dancing With The Stars at 7 on Monday night. The following night, Fox (WZTV-17) begins back-to-back nights of So You Think You Can Dance on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7p.m.
Meanwhile, ABC presents a results version of Dancing With The Stars at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. That's certainly an ample amount of prime time devoted these competitions.
Perhaps the most closely watched scripted move of the early season will be whether the CBS spinoff NCIS: Los Angeles builds on the popularity of its parent program NCIS, which has emerged as CBS’ (WTVF-5) biggest hit since the early days of CSI. It debuts Tuesday night at 9 p.m., following NCIS’s return.
Another heavily promoted CBS new program, The Good Wife starring Julianna Marguiles, follows at 9 p.m.
Other than putting Jay Leno on five-nights-a-week at 9 p.m., the biggest gamble being taken by NBC (WSMV-4) involves putting longtime favorites Law and Order and Law and Order: SVU in earlier time slots. SVU now airs at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Law and Order at 7 p.m. on Fridays.
Both shows have flourished in the past with controversial storylines that push the enveloped as much as possible (on network TV) regarding violence, language and plotting. Whether that will work for audiences tuning in at these times during the evening remains to be seen.
Some additional intriguing battles include longtime CBS favorite CSI:Miami against ABC's second season mystery yarn Castle on Monday at 9 p.m,;, the packed Thursday at 8 p.m. logjam between CSI (CBS), Fringe (Fox) and Grey's Anatomy (ABC), and the Sunday counter-programming to the NFL on NBC by Fox ( a trio of animated comedies led by The Simpsons at 7 p.m.), CBS (The Amazing Race and Cold Case at 8 and 9 p.m.) and ABC (Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters at 8 and 9 p.m.).
Comedies unchanged… almost
CBS has been the most successful of all the networks with situation comedies, and their popular block of How I Met Your Mother (7 p.m.), Two And A Half Men (8 p.m.) and The Big Bang Theory (new time slot at 8:30) start their new years.
The rookie show in this lineup is Accidentally on Purpose, a half hour program about a woman (Jenna Elfman) whose quick fling with a younger man results in a pregnancy and totally life-altering situation that will become the foundation for the show.
They're also retaining The New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary Unmarried at 7 and 7:30 on Wednesdays. Likewise, NBC's Emmy-winning 30 Rock and less than beloved Parks and Recreation comprise part of the Thursday night comedy lineup at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
‘Trek’ is back
For Trekkies who missed it, reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation are finally back in the Nashville market on a non-superstation/indie channel. WTVF-5 is now airing them in chronological order weeknights at 1:05 a.m.