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TV’s Tough Timeslots

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The gifts and the hangovers are only memories now, and it’s time to hunker down for some quality winter couch potato time. But there are some new shows adding to the decision-making now. Mid-season series tend not to get the same hype that fall launches do, so it can be easy to lose sight of them, especially when they’re shoehorned into a January that already seems two sizes too small. So here’s a peek at what’s new and notable, along with their timeslot competitors.

Mondays at 9

Emily’s Reasons Why Not and Courting Alex are Monday’s new half-hour sitcoms, going up against the return of 24. Both come armed with familiar faces. Heather Graham is Emily, who works for a self-help book publisher but whose own relationships are disasters. Jenna Elfman is Alex, a single lawyer who has a hard time finding a life beyond work. The female-friendly premises are probably not bad counter-programming against 24.

24‘s serial story has always been too much commitment for me, but I’m feeling friendly towards the sweet-looking Emily’s Reasons Why Not (I haven’t heard anything about Courting Alex beyond the premise).

New episodes begin:

  • Las Vegas, NBC: Jan. 2
  • Emily’s Reasons Why Not (9 p.m.) / Jake in Progress (9:30 p.m.), ABC: Jan. 9
  • Two and a Half Men (9 p.m.) / Courting Alex (9:30 p.m.), CBS: Jan. 9 for Men, Jan. 23 for Alex
  • 24, FOX: special airings Sunday, Jan. 15 and Monday, Jan. 16 from 8 – 10 p.m., then settling into the Monday at 9 p.m. slot on Jan. 23

Tuesdays at 9

Love Monkey has been called a male-centric Sex and the City, and stars the charming Tom Cavanagh from Ed as a single record company executive bouncing back from losing his girlfriend and his job in the same day. But that promising-looking show’s arrival in the Tuesday at 9 slot destroys any of the happiness I felt about NBC moving My Name is Earl out of the way of House. Plus, Scrubs is finally returning to NBC with back-to-back episodes in the same timeslot. What is it with the networks trying to destroy my happiness?

If it was in another timeslot, I’d want to watch Commander in Chief, too, to see what new man in charge Steven Bochco might do with the show’s promising but not fully captivating start … but something’s gotta give. House will remain my must-watch show, but during its two-week American Idol break, I can catch Love Monkey. Then I’ll decide whether it or Scrubs becomes my must-record show. And cry myself to sleep Tuesday nights if I end up loving them both.

New episodes begin:

  • Scrubs, NBC: Jan. 3
  • House, FOX: Jan. 10 (then thanks to American Idol, it’s off the schedule again until Jan. 31)
  • Commander in Chief, ABC: Jan. 10
  • Love Monkey, CBS: premieres Jan. 17 at 10 p.m., then moves to 9 p.m. starting Jan. 24
  • Get this Party Started, UPN: Jan. 24

Thursdays

The buddy sitcom Four Kings joins NBC’s new two-hour comedy block, following Will and Grace at 8, and before My Name is Earl and The Office. Another newcomer, Crumbs, with Fred Savage and Jane Curtain as his nutty mother, goes up against The Office in the 9:30 slot. Dancing With the Stars on ABC runs through both timeslots starting Jan. 5.

Neither of the new ones tempt me much, but since I’ll be watching Earl and The Office in their new timeslots, I’m sure I’ll click by to see what I think.

New episodes begin:

  • Four Kings, NBC (8:30 p.m.): Jan. 5
  • CSI, CBS (9 p.m.): Jan. 5
  • My Name is Earl (9 p.m.) / The Office (9:30 p.m.), NBC: Jan. 5
  • Crumbs, ABC (9:30 p.m.): Jan. 12

Friday

A couple of new shows enter the twilight zone of Friday night television. In Justice, starring Kyle MacLachlan, is another crime show, this one focusing on a non-profit organization that takes on cases of wrongful convictions. It gets the slightly cushier 9 p.m. slot, while Book of Daniel faces off with Numb3rs at 10 p.m. (after the two-hour pilot airs Jan. 6 at 9 p.m., repeating Jan. 7 at 8 p.m.)

I haven’t seen Daniel – neither have most of the people protesting it – but I’ll be tuning in to see Aidan Quinn as a troubled minister who talks to Jesus, pops painkillers, and deals with his equally troubled family. It had good critical buzz but the network cut its episode order before the series has even aired. Daniel might need help from a higher power to survive, but it looks like intelligent entertainment with a great cast.

New episodes begin:

  • In Justice, ABC (9 p.m.): Jan. 6
  • Close to Home, CBS (9 p.m.): Jan. 6
  • Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, FOX (9 p.m.): Jan. 6
  • Numb3rs, CBS (10 p.m.): Jan. 6
  • The Book of Daniel, NBC: Jan. 6 at 9 p.m., then Jan. 13 at 10 p.m.

Scheduling information from The Futon Critic and TV Guide – check your local listings.

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About Diane Kristine Wild

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com/ Sterfish

    Great post. It seems like it’s become harder and harder to become even a primetime TV junkie. I hope I can at least try to see some of the new shows.

  • http://bonamassablog.us Joanie

    I still don’t get NBC’s placement of Will & Grace at 8pm. That’s really not a primetime family show.

    I’m thrilled with the move of Earl, can’t wait to see Alex, and could live without Four Kings.

    I still believe I should be allowed to program all the networks.

  • http://unifiedtheorynothingmuch.blogspot.com deekay

    I’ll fight you for that all-network programmer job, Joanie. And I’m with you on Will & Grace, but more because it’s on its last legs and probably doesn’t deserve the cushier timeslot. Poor Earl’s up against CSI.

  • http://bonamassablog.us Joanie

    My solution for the CBS/NBC counter-programming is to tape, tape, tape! Thankfully, Survivor isn’t on right now and I can satisfy my 8pm urges unfettered. I will miss Joey at 8pm on NBC, but that’s how it goes.

    The worst was at the beginning of the fall season when all three major networks had shows I wanted to watch on at the same time.

    So, you think we can split the programming duties? I think it would work out well for everyone.

  • http://unifiedtheorynothingmuch.blogspot.com deekay

    Sounds good to me, Joanie. My mission will be to arrange the schedule to make it more convenient for me, of course, but there are enough times I don’t care about that we shouldn’t have much to argue about in our job-share arrangement.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Great piece and excellent timing for me as I’m warngling a DCR / cable set-up that’s too baffling to even get into. It’s really hard, amazingly, to keep up with what shows are on when and when you should set your DVR / get in front of the set, etc. I wrote a piece this week called “There’s Too Much TV” that gets into this.

    This piece has been chosen as a Blogcritics.org Editor’s Pick of the Week, Celery Sticks and the Post-New Year Story Cornucopia edition, congrats!

    You’ve just earned yourself the right to nominate your favorite story (for the period of 1/4 – 1/10) for next week’s Editors’ Picks column. List the link, the story title, and the author in the comments area of this week’s column, and of course tell us why it deserves to be honored!

    Thanks and congrats again ~ EB