Fall TV Breakdown: Mondays

OK, let’s get back to business. Woefully behind in all this, but yanno, life, yadda yadda yadda. So, what’s up with Mondays, then?

The Monday lineup (new shows in blue)

  7/8 8/9 9/10
ABC Wife Swap The Bachelor
What About Brian
CBS The Class (7/8)How I Met Your Mother (7.30/8.30) Two and a Half Men (8/9) The New Adventures of Old Christine (8.30/9.30) CSI Miami
CW Seventh Heaven Runaway
FOX Prison Break Vanished
NBC Deal Or No Deal Heroes
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Welcome to the post-MNF world (well, not really; it’s running over on ESPN), where, for the first time in 37 years, there is no football on network prime-time on fall Mondays. As a result, look for some considerable movement and opportunities.

That said, sometimes you go with what works. Witness CBS, whose sitcom heavy schedule has remained virtually unchanged for twenty-odd years. The shows come and go, but the general idea remains the same: comfy, uncomplicated shows to draw in the non-football crowd. How I Met Your Mother and arguably The New Adventures of Old Christine may be a cut above the others (and would not have been out of place on classic Must-See NBC a decade ago), but comfy they are: multi-camera, stagey sitcoms, the way mom ‘n’ dad (and grandma and grandpa) watched ’em. After that, the usual hour of comfortably stylized criminology and David Caruso brooding into the distance.

Similarly, ABC’s basically rolled out a kind of hodge-podge of non-threatening programming, apparently trying to capture the family/women audience. The jury’s still out about What About Brian (and I’m not convinced it really fits for them this night), but Wife Swap and The Bachelor (and here I thought this was gone) should perform well enough to suit their expectations (i.e., hold the night till they get more adventurous down the line).

And then there’s Fox and NBC, who have thrown caution right out the door with their buzz-heavy lineup of serial dramas (and Howie Mandel). Fox has nicely turned Mondays into a kind-of high-stakes action night, largely on the continued strength of 24. Prison Break has extended that legacy, though, so far, Vanished hasn’t exactly lit it up. Over on the peacock, we’ve got two truly remarkable, and truly different, shows. Heroes basically crosses the mystical/supernatural ethos that many shows have dealt with over the past decade with the complex ensemble gymnastics of Lost (the template for several new shows this fall). I’ve resisted watching the pilot till it airs (it’s been circulating online since July), but from all indications it comes as close as TV’s ever come to exploring the idea of superhuman abilities (I’ve a lot more to say about this particular topic, but I’ll file it away for a later date).

And then there’s perhaps the most buzzed-about show of the fall, Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which will no doubt get heavy sampling for the first several episodes, and may do very well in its slot, especially for its target demo. I wonder, though, whether it’s too “insidey” for most viewers. I loved all the industry details in the first episode, but I can imagine lots of it going over most people’s heads. That said, that’s what they said about The West Wing as well. I’m still not totally sold on the show itself; it may take a little while. There’s something about Sorkin’s soliloquizing characters that grates with me, as if it’s working hard to perform “being about something,” instead of just…being about something. I’ll keep up with it for now, though, because the performances are great (how cool is it that Matthew Perry’s character was hopped up on Vicodin!), and the premise is fascinating.

Lastly, the CW will run the 27th 19th 11th season of Seventh Heaven and the kind-of intriguing family-on-the-run drama Runaway. Good idea to stay with the standards on the new network, but unless it can draw in some teens or thirtysomethings pretty quickly (which it may just do) Runaway is likely not long for this world.

Likely winner: CBS
Runner-up: NBC, gathering some mo’


7 Responses to “Fall TV Breakdown: Mondays”

  1. Travis Says:

    NBC will have my attention on Mondays. I don’t care for any of CBS’s comedys. And CSI is too unreal (especially the Miami version with Horatio Cane).

  2. Lindsay Hogan Says:

    I will also be on NBC on Mondays (well, my TiVo will, I will be in class). I gave in to the anticipation and watched the Heroes pilot online, and I’m pretty much sold. And Studio 60 – despite its trying too hard to “be something” – is great, I think. I can see how Aaron Sorkin might grate on you, but he totaly pulls me in (I was a huge West Wing fan). The characters are great, although I don’t know quite yet how I feel about Amanda Peet’s character. I’m actually reviewing Studio 60 for http://www.popsyndicate.com. 🙂

  3. Jason Davis Says:

    It’s nice to see STUDIO 60 take off like a rocket. Of course, I suppose I have a vested interest in that concept succeeding as you well know…

  4. dkompare Says:

    If Heroes delivers, and Studio 60 maintains, I may just have another “must see” TV night. Side bet: how long before Sorkin really does touch a nerve over at NBC corporate, and faces off with them?

  5. Jason Davis Says:

    I fear STUDIO 60 may already be on the block. They lost 1/3 of their audience this week. Amusingly, this happened in an episode where the show within a show went up 109%…

  6. dkompare Says:

    Yeah, and they just reupped Heroes for the season (after two episodes; they must luuuvvvv what they’ve seen in the exec suites), so that does make me nervous about Studio 60. My gut still says they’ll keep with it for the season, and it’ll be on the bubble to return.

  7. Jason Davis Says:

    I hope people saw tonight’s STUDIO 60–that was a top-notch hour of TV.

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