Last April, before the networks set their fall schedules, I noticed that the one rare broadcast programming hole is Tue at 10p. (the-rare-programming-hole-that-is-10p-tuesday)
Three weeks into the new season, it is clear that remains true. Vegas might have a high number of total viewers but the best it could do on week 3 was tie the underrated Parenthood at a 2.0. FXs Sons of Anarchy has been beating all 3 networks the last 2 weeks in the demo. Parenthood, last week, rode the wave of NBCs much improved Tuesday lineup to its highest score in almost a year.
Surveying the three nets, I think there is only one real network that has a shot to take a swing at it this season and that is ABC:
Parenthood finally has decent scores to match its incessant and much deserved critical acclaim. Seeing as NBC will likely leave The Voice at 8 all year to help their comedies, I think they will let Parenthood have its full 22 (or maybe an ep or 2 more) this year, as opposed to last year when it got cut to 18. They have 2 new dramas Infamous and Do No Harm, which I could see being used on Sunday (Do No Harm is currently penciled in for Sun but we all know that doesn’t really mean much at this point). I still maintain Thu at 10 is calling for Smash. It is possible NBC could use Tuesday at 10 to launch Infamous in late Spring after Parenthood finishes its run, but that means March at the earliest.
While Vegas is doing okay, as I was writing this today, the esteemed Joe Adalian of Vulture, tweeted L3 results from last Tue and Vegas was 3rd after 3 days of DVR usage was factored in. (TVMoJoe). It was even behind 6-year-old Private Practice. That is definitely not what CBS had in mind. But my guess is, it has a large number of total viewers and it has a very impressive (and expensive) cast and they will give it time to find itself. The only drama on the bench is Golden Boy and I don’t see CBS trying another new drama in this slot til late Spring at the earliest. At this point all has been quiet on the Golden Boy front which has undergone some modifications after its initial pilot and its a bit unclear where it will end up. I see CBS giving Vegas a season or at least til March to find itself.
That leaves ABC and Private Practice which has a 13 ep order and room for extension. At this point it could go either way. It was 2.5 after L3 last Tue, which isn’t horrible when the leader is a 2.8. But its a 6 year old show that’s expensive and it’s not bringing in large numbers (it had a 1.4 at 10:30 last week). Kate Walsh is leaving after the 13th ep and that gives everyone a perfect place to stop. I think ABC will give Scandal the back 9 and between that show and Grey’s there are many more hours of TV for Shonda Rhimes to produce this year. So my guess is sometime before the end of next week (likely after its next ep airs and first without the DWTS lead in), ABC will formally announce the 13th will be the last. If its gonna end with ep 13 they’ll have to decide by next week as they’re already producing ep 8 and Shonda will have to craft a finale. My guess is PP will run thru January and ABC can launch something new with Feb Sweeps.
On the one hand this is very premature speculation. Depending how some of the other new shows fare after a few weeks, Tue at 10 might be a welcome spot for them too. If Last Resort doesn’t stop falling in its tough Thu at 8 spot, I could see them giving it a shot Tue at 10 where the competition is less fierce and where it might attract some NCIS viewers that might flip over. Plus assuming Justified on FX airs here that’s far less strong male competition than SOA. Plus who knows, depending on how the Tue comedies fare at 9, it wouldn’t be a crazy scenario to see them slide down an hour after a reality show, should they need to (but again, way premature).
My gut says a new drama will fill the hole. Look what NBC has done with Revolution on Mondays. Granted The Voice is helping that, but one look at those DVR numbers and its clear that that’s a hit and that hour still boasts two good network performers on ABC and CBS.
ABCs three midseason dramas are Mistresses (which I see being used with The Bachelorette on Mon (or Sun). So that leaves Red Widow and Zero Hour. I thought ABCs Fall dramas were much stronger than midseason (based on pilots) but those aren’t breaking out huge, so anything is possible. Red Widow has an 8 ep order. Based on that and a compatibility level one would assume it would be scheduled Sun at 10 in March after the Oscars. But I’m reminded of how every Sci Fi show ABC launched after LOST flopped. Red Widow might be a too on the nose companion for Revenge. Plus it’s much darker than that show (and the ABC brand, really). It’s cable drama dark. If the comedies work on Tue, it might fit well there. Lots of people scoffed at ABC putting Revenge after the comedies last year but it worked perfectly. A similar strategy could pay off here as well.
I don’t think ABC should put Body of Proof here. It’s proven to have a high number of total viewers but its demo ceiling seems to be a 2.0 and this is the one hour with the lack of strong competition that ABC can launch something new that can possibly breakout. Plus as I mentioned before, (abc-should-rest-dwts-after-this-season-concludes-yes-that-means-sit-out-the-spring-season) if ABC rests DWTS in Spring it might be good Mon companion with Castle (or even Sun at 10p).
So that leaves Zero Hour. This is Anthony Edwards in a high concept, action adventure. show. Assuming Vegas and Parenthood remain here, it might be ABCs best bet for Tue at 10. They could launch it in Feb after PP ends and with 13 episodes that would take them to the end of the season.
Whatever happens, one of the the broadcast network should not let this season end without someone making a play for the last remaining timeslot without a breakout hit on network TV.