2011-2012 upfront: Network by network analysis


Media analysts Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill have teamed this year on the next cycle of Baseline Research’s Primetime TV Insight Reports. The first report, the 2011 Upfront Edition, details everything from network erosion and mid-season repeats, to programming trends to a network-by-network analysis. Today we look at a network-by-network analysis. From the report:

Each broadcast network has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as overall programming strategies. At the start of every season, most talk revolves around the success potential of new series. Even during the season, unless there is some major news  (new judges on American Idol, Charlie Sheen issues with Two and a Half Men), most of the talk is still about new series performance or what’s in development for next season.

Network standings, however, seldom hinge on new series performance. It’s the returning shows that count most. This certainly makes sense, since there are many more returning then new shows. When a new show flops it’s usually replaced by something that does better. When a returning show declines, it typically continues slipping until it’s canceled – and then it’s often replaced by something that does worse.

Here’s a nightly look at ABC, and where we think the network needs the most help in the fall.

Monday night is in reasonably good shape for ABC. Dancing With the Stars, airing from 8-10pm, has been one of the network’s success stories.

While continuing to be ABC’s oldest skewing series, with a median age over 55, it still ranks behind only American Idol and Sunday Night Football among adults 18-49 and 25-54 this season. But although Dancing is clearly a major hit for ABC, its ratings will fluctuate depending on its cast of dancers – this past season’s lineup, featuring Jennifer Grey and Bristol Palin undoubtedly contributed to its strong performance. Between its fall and spring editions, The Bachelor provides a decent breather, and is still a top-10 show among women under 50.

At 10pm, ABC’s police drama, Castle, has been a moderate performer, generally finishing second to CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 (it is virtually tied with CBS among women under 50, but is well behind among men). Whether the network is content to leave the show here likely depends on its program development, but it will continue to be on somewhere. Needs 0-1 new hours.

We’d like to see – Instead of airing Dancing from 8-10pm, break it into two segments, 8-9 and 10-11. This might help create a new scripted hit at 9pm (a good spot for Body of Proof?).

ABC needs some help on Tuesday night. Dancing With the Stars Results may have led the way from 9-10pm, but it was not compatible with either the 8pm (No Ordinary Family) or 10pm (Detroit 1-8-7) entries, both of which are verging on official cancellation. Detroit 1-8-7 deserved a better fate. ABC is hoping (and expecting) its new procedural drama, Body of Proof, which debuted on March 29th, to finally make some inroads at 10
O’clock. It already has. Needs 1-2 new hours.

We’d like to see ABC shift Dancing to 10pm. That way it would finally win the 10pm hour and wouldn’t interfere with the network’s scripted series from 8-10pm. It wouldn’t lose anything in the ratings, and would also serve
as a strong and compatible lead-in to local news. Then we’d love to see ABC try a new 8-10pm comedy block on Tuesday, going back to its heyday of Tuesday and Wednesday comedies. Tim Allen anyone?

Wednesday has been a mixed bag for ABC. Modern Family, the network’s sole bona-fide new scripted hit over the past couple of seasons, is solid at 9pm, although it has been affected by facing American Idol since
the end of January. But unlike days gone by, a 9pm hit comedy no longer creates multiple hits on the same night. Two comedies that joined ABC’s schedule with Modern Family last season, The Middle (8pm) and Cougar Town (9:30pm), are doing decently, but are by no means hits. Both should return next season, however. The 8:30pm entry, Better With You, will not likely make the cut.

The 10pm hour on Wednesday has been a problem spot for ABC. This season’s The Whole Truth and Off the Map did nothing to change that. Why ABC would start this season with a new legal drama opposite two other
legal dramas was a real head scratcher. Needs 1½ new hours.

We’d like to see ABC find a comedy that can better hold onto Modern Family’s strong lead-in audience. Cougar Town is not at all compatible – move it elsewhere.

Thursday’s long-running hit, Grey’s Anatomy, has declined in each of the past few seasons, but remains the highest rated scripted series on television among women 18-49. Its spin-off and lead-out, Private Practice, has also been declining. It loses about 30% of Grey’s female audience, but is still a top-20 show among women 18-49. Its weakness among men, however, enables CBS’s The Mentalist to beat it among adults
18-49 and 25-54.

ABC’s sore spot on this night has been the 8-9pm hour. The performance of the quickly canceled My Generation made last season’s Flash Forward ratings seem downright respectable (which they actually were). Needs 1 new hour.

We’d like to see ABC find a great new comedy to place at 8pm, and follow it with Cougar Town (which would be a compatible lead-in to Grey’s Anatomy).

ABC seems to have given up trying to program Friday night with scripted programming. 20/20 continues to be competitive at 10 O’clock, while the 8-10pm period has become a home for low-rated reality and news mags.
Needs 1-2 hours.

We’d like to see ABC bring back TGIF-style comedies. Kids and teens still watch a lot of TV just not that much of the broadcast networks anymore.

On Saturday ABC airs college football in the 4th quarter, followed by movies, repeats and reality. Nothing is going to change on this night.

Sunday night has seen better days on ABC. At 7-8pm, America’s Funniest Home Videos has been serviceable (nothing is likely to perform much better here), while Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has slipped from 8-9pm, and now lags behind CBS’s Amazing Race. Despite significant declines, Desperate Housewives at 9pm remains a top-10 show among women 18-49. Brothers & Sisters has also declined sharply, and is now in
a virtual tie with CBS and NBC among adults 18-49 and 25-54 (although still leading among women) at 10pm. It may be on the bubble.

ABC has been reluctant to make changes on Sunday, but it’s time to consider it. Needs 1 new hour.

We’d like to see ABC try either a drama or two comedies from 8-9pm.

In Development for ABC
Here are descriptions of shows that, at this writing, are already in production or pre-production, or have stars attached that merit inclusion.

Charlie’s Angels: Based on the 1970s series about three beautiful cops who work for the mysterious Charlie. It defined “Jiggle TV” and thrust “T & A” into the American lexicon. Modern take on the show will be set in Miami.
Ramon Rodriguez will be the new Bosley, and Robert Wagner will be the voice of Charlie. It all depends on the pilot. It will either be great or terrible – probably no middle ground here. From Sony. (Score = 4)

Damage Control: Drama from Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) about a crisis management specialist (Kerry Washington) and her dysfunctional staff. Jeff Perry from Grey’s Anatomy and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond from Lost) have joined the cast. This could go on Thursday at 8pm, leading into Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice to make a Shonda triple-header. From ABC Studios. (Score = 4)

Good Christian Bitches: Based on the popular book of the same name, this soap is set in Dallas, where a former high-school “mean girl” (Leslie Bibb) returns home after her marriage ends in scandal. Kristen
Chenowith has also been tapped for the cast. From ABC Studios, with Darren Star one of the producers.

We don’t care if it’s the actual book title, ABC should change the name (even just GCB would be fine). Already the Parents Television Council as well as religious and women’s groups are up in arms. While generating publicity, the title is extremely offensive, and ABC (owned by family-friendly Disney) should be embarrassed to even be considering keeping this title. This could work following Desperate Housewives on Sunday. (Score = 4)

Grace: Eric Roberts leads the cast in this show about a dysfunctional family in the world of professional dance. Grace, Glee – coincidence? We think not. From ABC Studios. (Score = 3)

Hallelujah: Not in production yet, but it’s from Marc Cherry, and could be a potential replacement for Desperate Housewives. A stranger arrives to bring peace and justice in a small Tennessee town torn apart by the forces of good and evil. Songs sung by a gospel choir will punctuate each episode. It will all come down to the execution. Jesse L. Martin and Terry O’Quinn (Lost) have signed on. (Score = 2)

Revenge: Woman (Emily VanCamp) moves to The Hamptons and is welcomed by her new neighbors, who are unaware she’s only there to get revenge on those who destroyed her family. Madeline Stowe has signed on.
From ABC Studios. (Score = 2)

Poe: Edgar Allen Poe solves mysteries in 19th century Boston, in a procedural drama that shows how some of his most famous stories came to be. Christopher Egan stars as Poe. From WBTV. (Score = 2)

My Frickin’ Family: Young parents’ (Ellen Woglom, Ravi Patel) lives change when the baby’s four grandparents (one of them Cybill Shepherd) with very different cultural backgrounds descend on them. Seems like a
natural to follow or lead into Modern Family. From ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment. (Score = 5)

Last Days of Man: Three guys, best friends in different stages of romantic relationships, share their experiences with one another. Tim Allen stars. This could work leading off a new night of comedy. From ABC
Studios. (Score = 5)

Other People’s Kids: A 32-year-old man (Jesse Bradford) falls in love with an older woman, who has two kids, an ex-husband, and ex-in-laws. Of course on TV the older woman is usually a Courtney Cox or Jenna Elfman.
In this case, Bonnie Sommerville (who is still in her 30s herself). From ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment. If Cougar Town is renewed and moved to another night, this would be a suitable companion. (Score = 3)

Suburgatory: A teenage girl has to move with her family from New York City to the suburbs, where life is more frightening than anything she’s ever seen in a horror movie. From Warner Bros. Television. (Score = 2)

Unless ABC wants to open up a second comedy night (Tuesday anyone?), these four comedies will be competing for one Wednesday night spot, with the others on deck for mid-season.

Here’s a nightly look at CBS, and where we think the network needs the most help in the fall.

With Two and a Half Men’s future in doubt, Monday night is suddenly a question mark for CBS. While How I Met Your Mother is one of the network’s few shows not to decline from last season, and Rules of Engagement continues to perform OK (as does mid-season comedy, Mad Love), Two and a Half Men has been the highest rated scripted series on television. Without Charlie Sheen, however, it is likely to lose at least onethird
of its audience. Mike & Molly, at 9:30pm, will be hurt by having a weaker lead-in.

At 10pm, Hawaii Five-0 has been winning its hour and should return for another season. Needs 0-1 new hours.

We’d like to see CBS move Hawaii Five-0 to another night (Tuesday?). It seems more compatible with the NCISs than The Good Wife, which might be a better fit here.

Tuesday has become CBS’s strongest night, with NCIS from 8-9pm (no longer having to face American Idol in the winter and spring) and NCIS: LA from 9-10pm. They are two of the highest rated series on the air. At 10pm, The Good Wife loses a big chunk of its lead-in audience, but this award-winning and critically acclaimed drama is still managing to win its time period, so CBS is almost certain to bring it back for a third season.
Needs 0 new hours.

We’d like to see CBS move The Good Wife to Monday and bring Hawaii Five-0 to Tuesday.

CBS is trying to do on Wednesday what it did on Tuesday – namely spin-off a hit procedural, and place it immediately following the original. At 9pm, Criminal Minds remains one of the strongest shows on television.
The mid-season drama, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, started out strongly (and made previous 10pm occupant, The Defenders, expendable). The show itself is not that good yet, but it took NCIS: LA a full season to hit its stride – so we’re reserving judgment until next season.

From 8-9pm, Survivor is not nearly what it was in its heyday, but it still manages to win its hour among adults 18-49 and 25-54. Good move shifting it here from Thursday. It’s been renewed for at least two more cycles. Needs 0 new hours.

We’d like to see CBS leave the night as is.

Thursday is a strong night for CBS. Moving Big Bang Theory (from Monday) to lead off the night was a brilliant move. It gave CBS a foothold on the night that a declining Survivor could no longer guarantee. It easily
wins its time period. At 8:30pm, $#*! My Dad Says loses a chunk of its lead-in audience, but does win its time slot. CBS could keep it or not, with little impact one way or the other. We’d guess that if CBS has strong
comedy development this year it’s gone.

CSI continues to slide in the ratings, but is still competitive from 9-10pm, just behind Grey’s Anatomy among adults 25-54 (well behind among adults 18-49). It edges out ABC among men, but is way behind among
women. The ABC/CBS battle reverses itself at 10pm, as CBS’s The Mentalist edges out Private Practice among adults 18-49, and is well ahead among adults 25-54. As with the earlier hour, ABC gets the women, CBS the men. Needs ½ new hour.

We’d like to see Charlie Sheen join $#*! My Dad Says.

CBS is the only network to have success programming scripted series on Friday over the past few years, extending its franchise among older viewers. The new Blue Bloods at 10pm consistently wins its hour this
season, and seems a good bet to return. The network moved CSI: NY to the 9pm slot this season, and it usually wins its time period among adults 25-54 (but not always 18-49). Its return is not certain, but CBS’s ownership of the show might swing the pendulum in its favor.

At 8pm, Medium started off the season and was replaced by The Defenders (which moved here from Wednesday). It has done OK. CBS will try a new dramedy about the CIA, titled Chaos, starting in April. How well it performs will determine which of these series, if either, is renewed for the fall. Needs 1-2 new hours.

We’d like to see CBS stay with all scripted series on Friday, and bring back the excellent Blue Bloods.

Saturday will continue to have drama repeats and 48 Hours. 

Sunday will probably continue to be a safe harbor for 60 Minutes, Amazing Race, and Undercover Boss from 7-9pm. It’s hard to argue with this since pre-10pm scripted series haven’t worked for either CBS or NBC in a while on Sunday. From 10-11pm, CSI: Miami still leads against all but football, and probably has another season or two left in it. Needs 0 new hours.

We’d like to see CBS try scripted series from 8-10pm, and save Amazing Race and Undercover Boss either for mid-season or to replace new Sunday series that don’t work.

In Development for CBS
Here are descriptions of shows that, at this writing, are already in production or pre-production, or have stars attached that merit inclusion. Ringer: Sarah Michelle Geller plays a woman on the run from the mob who takes on the identity of her wealthy identical twin sister – only to find out that she too has a bounty on her head. From ABC Television Studios and CBS Television Studios. This could go on any night. (Score = 4)

Rookies: A group of six rookie cops balance their personal lives with hitting the streets of Manhattan. Leelee Sobieski has signed on to star. From Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and their Tribeca Production and
CBS Television Studios. Could be a good lead-in for Blue Bloods, assuming that show returns. (Score = 4)

Person of Interest: An ex-CIA operative, presumed to be dead, teams up with a mysterious billionaire (Lost’s Michael Emerson) to fight crime in New York City. A JJ Abrams production from Warner Bros. Television. If

CBS puts more original series on Sunday again, this would fit in at 9pm. Has a shot only because of JJ Abrams. (Score = 4)

Hail Mary: A female Southern private investigator, teams up with her murdered son’s best friend, a street-wise hustler, to solve crimes. Minnie Driver stars. From Warner Bros. Television. (Score = 3)

Untitled Susannah Grant Project: A workaholic surgeon’s ex-wife dies, and then returns in spirit form to guide him from the other side. From CBS Television Studios. (Score = 2)

Rob Schneider Project: A solitary guy marries into a large Mexican-American family. This could work on Monday or following The Big Bang Theory on Thursday. From CBS Television Studios. (Score = 5)

Rob Schneider Project: A solitary guy marries into a large Mexican-American family. This could work on Monday or following The Big Bang Theory on Thursday. From CBS Television Studios. (Score = 5)

The Assistants: Ensemble comedy about four assistants who work for a celebrity couple. Heather Locklear just signed on, which makes this more likely to get on. From CBS Television Studios and The Tannenbaum Co.
This seems like a good candidate for 8:30pm on Monday. (Score = 4)

Vince Uncensored: Michael Chiklis is a man who after a life-changing experience decides to take a more honest approach to his life. From Warner Bros. Television and Conaco. Conan O’Brien is one of the producers.

Untitled Sports Radio Show: Inspired by ESPN personality Colin Cowherd’s outspoken sports talk show. Eliza Dushku, Danny Comden, and Damon Wayans star. From CBS Television Studios and The Tannenbaum Co.
This could work on Thursday at 8:30pm.

Here’s a nightly look at NBC and where we think the network needs the most help in the fall.

While Chuck has a small but dedicated fan base on Monday, the family friendly action drama has had a rough time in the 8-9pm hour. With the disappointing performances of The Event and The Cape during mid-season,
NBC needs a strong new 9pm drama to pair with Harry’s Law at 10pm. Needs 1-2 new hours.

We’d like to see NBC move away from Monday sci-fi in favor of broader family programming. Tuesday has seen The Biggest Loser decline opposite CBS’s NCIS hits and FOX’s Glee. The reality show has not been a compatible lead-in for any dramas the network had tried at 10pm. Needs 1-2 new hours. We’d like to see NBC finally try something new (and scripted) on Tuesday. Given the dramas on other nights, this might be a good night to try family comedies again.

On Wednesday, when Undercovers failed, NBC quickly resorted to reality series from 8-9pm. Two Law & Orders did not perform well from 9-11pm, nor did Chase, which moved here in mid-season. Scheduling Law & Order: SVU opposite Criminal Minds and the new Law & Order: LA opposite two other legal dramas made little sense. These programming moves seemed like a clear indication of NBC’s lack of program development for this season. Needs 2-3 new hours.

We’d like to see NBC consider counter-programming when putting on new series here.

Since Thursday’s announced anthology hour, Love Bites, never made it to the schedule, NBC shifted to a three-hour comedy block in mid-season, adding new comedy Perfect Couples (which has just been canceled) to the mix. Parks & Recreation returned to the night in its new 9:30pm time slot and has been NBC’s only scripted series to gain viewers from last season. The Office, NBC’s top performing comedy, is doing OK, while 30 Rock, which has always been more popular with critics and the press than with viewers, has declined.

While the network renewed all four of its returning comedies, The Office (sans Steve Carell), Parks & Recreation, Community, and 30 Rock, the jury is out regarding its freshman comedy, Outsourced. Renewing this show would be a clear sign of NBC’s lack of comedy development. Needs 1 new hour.

We’d like to see NBC continue trying a three-hour comedy block, but with shows that are worthy – not just as desperate mid-season filler. Friday is a night NBC has given up on, and it just programs reality. We’d like to see Law & Order: LA move to 10 p.m. paired with at least 1-2 hours of new drama or a reality series.

Saturday consists mostly of drama retreads, especially recycled episodes from the Law & Order franchise. Whatever we’d like to see on the night doesn’t really matter because Saturday will always consist of encores.

Sunday night’s Football programming has been carrying the network to dominance on the night and it also has carried the network’s average ratings performance during the 4th Quarter. Beginning in January, however, the network has consistently wasted an opportunity to retain the football audience by relying on a combination of Dateline and reality series instead.

If there were a football strike, NBC would be the most severely hurt. We’d like to see NBC add two compelling dual-audience appeal dramas in the 9 and 10pm hours during mid-season. NBC should also make sure
that these shows have enough new episodes in the can in case they have to come off the bench if a football strike occurs during 4th Quarter 2011.

In Development for NBC
Here are descriptions of shows that, at this writing, are already in production or pre-production, or have stars attached that merit inclusion.

Untitled Emily Spivey Comedy: Christina Applegate stars in an irreverent look at parenthood through the POV of an acerbic working mother, who never thought she’d be a mom. Also in the mix is her stay-athome
husband and opinionated parents. From NBC Studios and Lorne Michaels. Applegate and Lorne Michaels (a powerful player at NBC) give this comedy a high probability of getting on the schedule.

My Life As An Experiment: Based on the best-selling book by journalist/author A.J. Jacobs, Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life As An Experiment. The comedy centers on magazine immersion journalist A.J. Wilder (Jon
Dore), who explores all sorts of unique experiences. Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) plays A.J.’s wife Stacie. Donald Sutherland will play Stacie’s dad and A.J.’s father-in-law, a highly respected, very accomplished heart surgeon and a pompous, arrogant guy to boot who makes no secret of his disdain for his writer son-in-law. From Sony, Reveille, and Jack Black’s Electric Dynamite. There’s quite a bit of buzz surrounding this project.

Free Agents: Another attempt to adapt a British series for American sensibilities. The romantic comedy explores the attraction between two quirky PR executives working together, who also both happen to be on the
rebound, one from divorce and the other from the death of her fiancé. Hank Azaria stars. Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Anthony Head will guest star in the pilot, reprising his role from the original British version.

Wonder Woman: This modern take on the DC Comics superhero is from David E. Kelley, best known for Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Legal and most recently, the NBC drama Harrys’ Law. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was cast in the lead role of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. From Warner Bros. There is so much publicity surrounding Wonder Woman that some time slot is a good bet (unless the pilot is bad). David E.
Kelley’s Harry’s Law has performed well out of the gate and NBC wants to be in business with him.

Are You There, Vodka, It’s Me, Chelsea: This comedy, loosely based on Chelsea Handler’s novel, will center on the Chelsea Hanson, a free-spirited cocktail waitress who loves alcohol and one-night stands. Laura
Prepon (That 70’s Show) stars. From NBC Studios.

Prime Suspect: This remake of the British series centers on the female head of a homicide squad (portrayed by Maria Bello) who leads her team in solving homicides while juggling her personal life. Aidan Quinn is set to costar as her boss. From UMS, Peter Berg is executive producing. Every network needs to have a good cop drama.

Smash: This musical drama series from Stephen Spielberg tracks the development of a Broadway musical inspired by silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe. Debra Messing (Will and Grace), Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, and American Idol alum Katharine McPhee will star.

New NBC Entertainment Chief Robert Greenblatt originally developed Smash during his tenure at Showtime. From DreamWorks TV and NBC Studios. When the incoming boss brings a project with him, it has a good shot at making the schedule. Pre-Glee, musical dramas haven’t had the best track record though.

The Playboy Club: Set in the 1960s, this project, from 20th Television, Imagine TV and writer-executive producer Chad Hodge, centers on a Chicago attorney who is also a key holder at the glamorous, exclusive
Playboy Club. Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami, Chase) will star in the pilot. Seems like an attempt at a stylized period piece a la Mad Men. There is reportedly a nudity clause in the actors’ contracts, so expect more than the normal amount of skin. In fact, the aforementioned clause has already sparked major criticism from the PTC. Needless to say, just the name alone will get the show viewer sampling.

S.I.L.A. (Special Investigations L.A.): NBC will attempt to launch another drama with Jimmy Smits in the lead. This one is set in the world of crime, law enforcement and politics in modern-day Los Angeles. From
Chernin Entertainment and 20th Television. Either this or Prime Suspect will make the schedule, not both.

REM: Think of this action-adventure drama project as an Inception-style thriller. It centers on Detective Mark Britten (Jason Isaacs) who wakes up after an accident to find he is living in two different realities, one in which he has killed his son Rex and one in which he has killed his wife Hannah in a car accident. Cherry Jones (24) will play Dr. Stephanie Evans, Mark’s shrink in the reality in which his wife Hannah has been killed. From creator/exec producer Kyle Killen and 20th Television.

A Mann’s World: Don Johnson stars as Allan Mann, a fiftysomething handsome and sexy, straight Beverly Hills hairdresser struggling to stay young and relevant in a place where looks are everything. Ellen Barkin costars
as Allan’s forgiving, funny ex-wife and the mother of their three children. Mario Cantone has also been cast as the salon’s manager. From Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) and Warner Bros. TV.

Grimm: This dark fantasy cop drama takes place in a world in which characters inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist. From NBC Studios and UMS.

Here’s a nightly look at FOX and where we think the network needs the most help in the fall.

With 24 no longer on, Monday is not what it once was for FOX. House (8pm), in its seventh season, is FOX’s highest rated scripted series. It still resonates with viewers and is still a top-15 show among adults 18-49. The
drama finishes second in the hour to ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. We are hopeful that the financial negotiations between FOX and NBC Universal over the show’s future will be resolved equitably and amicably so
the show can be back for an eighth season. Despite some warning signs that the drama is starting to show signs of aging creatively, we still think it deserves another season. In the meantime, FOX needs to develop a suitable replacement to step in and take over the hour once House hangs up its shingle.

After Lone Star flopped, the mid-season police drama The Chicago Code has held up adequately in 9pm hour as a drama alternative to CBS’s comedies as well as the second hour of ABC’s DWTS. But it’s no 24. Needs 0-1 new hours.

We’d like to see House stay in its 8pm time slot as either the lead-in to new character driven series, or perhaps, a new edge-of-your-seat drama. FOX has always had a penchant (and strength) for developing these types of dramas.

For mid-season, we suggest Keifer Sutherland’s new series in development Touch, which might give 24 refugees a reason to return to the hour. We also believe FOX should renew The Chicago Code and pair it with Bones on Thursday nights (or shift it to Wednesday, pre-American Idol).

Tuesday remains strong as Glee has made some viewership gains versus last season. FOX shifted American Idol to Wednesday and Thursday largely so it would not need to disrupt its new hit. Raising Hope was a pleasant surprise, becoming that rare FOX live-action comedy success. Unfortunately, new entry Running Wilde was incompatible with the ove-rthe-top comic styling of Hope and was pulled from the schedule. The midseason entry, Traffic Light, did not perform much better.

We’d like to see Glee’s storylines toned down a bit so that it becomes more suitable for family viewing. Comedy makes sense from 9-10pm, and we hope a compatible companion for Raising Hope can be found.
Wednesday ratings for season 10 of American Idol have shown some natural erosion but not the dramatic freefall that many expected (but not us) on its new night opposite CBS’s re-located Survivor and ABC’s comedies. But regular scripted series have not fared well, and the network has had to rely on Hell’s Kitchen as filler.

We’d like to see FOX develop another series following American Idol as it did with House several years ago.

Thursday’s American Idol Results show has dominated the 8pm hour and makes for a compatible lead-in to Bones at 9pm. We’d like to see back-to-back dramas on the night in the fall as an alternative to CBS and NBC comedies. The idea of pairing Bones and Fringe was a good one, except that the two shows were not compatible and appealed to largely different audiences. The Chicago Code or some new drama might be a better companion for Bones.

FOX’s decision to place Fringe on Friday at 9pm looked to some as though the network had lost interest in supporting the series in spite of its loyal fan base. Whether true or not, the show outperformed expectations
(although still not a hit) and has been renewed.

We’d like to see FOX bring in a compatible new action or sci-fi thriller to pair with Fringe – perhaps even Terra Nova. 

Fox’s long running Cops and America’s Most Wanted comprise the only original broadcast network programming on Saturday.

Animation Domination remains an enduring Sunday franchise. The Simpsons, which will be headed for its 23rd season, is currently the longest running scripted series ever (surpassing Gunsmoke and Law and Order
for the title). Family Guy remains a young male magnet regardless of how many venues it airs on.

We’d like to see FOX add 1-2 new animated half-hours, Allen Gregory, from Jonah Hill may just fit the bill. Also intriguing is the half-hour animated adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite.

In Development for FOX
Here are descriptions of shows that, at this writing, are already in production or pre-production, or have stars attached that merit inclusion. The X Factor is a singing competition franchise created by Simon Cowell
and produced by Syco TV, which is scheduled to premiere in September 2011 on FOX. The grand prize is a $5 million recording contract. The three key differences between X Factor and American Idol are: 1) Contestants
can audition as either a solo artist or singing group; 2) Contestants are 12 and over; 3) The finalists from each category girls under 25, boys under 25, individuals over 25, and groups are also assigned a judge.

During the live shows, the judges act as mentors to the contestants, helping to decide song choices and styling, while judging contestants from other categories. In addition to Simon Cowell, it was recently confirmed that Antonio L.A. Reid, (former chair and chief executive of Island Def Jam Music Group) will also serve as one of the other three judges. The other two will likely be announced in time for the network’s upfront presentation. Since CBS’s Live to Dance flopped, we’d like to see Paula Abdul return to Simon and the judging table. From Syco TV.

Terra Nova: Set in 2149. With the planet Earth dying, a family is sent back in time 85 million years to join a colony of humans who’s goal is to populate the Earth to make it right.

Despite the delays, expect a lot of pre-season buzz surrounding this show. This project from Steven Spielberg was originally announced at last year’s upfront presentation. From 20th Television, DreamWorks Television, Kapital Entertainment and Chernin Entertainment. Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Craig Silverstein, Kelly Marcel, Brannon Braga, Aaron Kaplan, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank serve as executive producers. This will be on either in fall or mid-season.

Touch: Kiefer Sutherland (24) will star in this drama written by Heroes creator, Tim Kring. Touch centers on a father (Sutherland) who discovers that his autistic, mute son can predict events before they occur. Mr.
Sutherland is also expected to serve as an executive producer alongside Kring, Peter Chernin, and Kathrine Pope. Because of the actor’s Broadway commitment, where he currently stars in a revival of the Jason Miller’s That Championship Season, Touch is expected to start production in late-May early-June. That would make the drama a likely contender for mid-season where 24 had been long-time staple. An episodic commitment is virtually a guarantee because of Sutherland’s involvement and FOX’s ownership. From 20th Television, co-produced by Chernin Entertainment.

Alcatraz: This crime drama from JJ Abrams is about our country’s most infamous prison and the team investigating the mysterious re-appearance of its 1960’s inhabitants in the present day. Stars Jorge Garcia (Lost) and Sam Neill. From Warner Bros. and Bad Robot. A famous prison, plus JJ Abrams, plus a great mystery, plus a popular Lost alumnus, equals a very good bet to land on the schedule.

Weekends at Bellevue: This drama centers on a psychiatrist (Lauren Ambrose) in charge of the weekend shift at Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric unit. The drama is based on the memoir of Julie Holland M.D. Rapper/Actor
Xzbit also stars. Produced by Berman-Braun for NBC Studios. Could be a good match (eventual replacement?) for House.

Exit Strategy: Action packed spy-thriller about a CIA team that specializes in high-risk rescue extraction operations that save agents who have been compromised. Stars Ethan Hawke and Tom Sizemore. From 20th
Television. FOX is good at this type of show.

Napoleon Dynamite: FOX has ordered six episodes of this animated series, which is based on the movie. The original cast, led by Jon Heder, is back to voice the series, which follows the misadventures of an awkward
high school teenager and his quirky friends as they struggle to navigate life in rural Idaho. The film’s writers Jared Hess, who also directed it, and Jerusha Hess wrote the adaptation with The Simpsons veteran Mike Scully. All three are executive producers. From 20th Television.

Council of Dads: In this half-hour comedy from Peter Tolan (Rescue Me), a group of five men are called together by the widow of their close friend to help her raise his two young children. The comedy is based on
Bruce Feiler’s memoir about his efforts to enlist his male friends to become a “council of dads” to his two young children after learning he has terminal cancer. Ken Howard stars. From Sony. This comedy could match up well with Raising Hope. FOX’s programming chief (and former FX chief) Kevin Reilly has worked with Peter Tolan back when Rescue Me was first in development.

Allen Gregory: An animated series created by Jonah Hill about an accomplished 7-year-old boy embarking on elementary school. Will Forte (former SNL cast member) will be joining Hill as a regular voice cast member. FOX excels at animated comedy, and could use a couple of new ones.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter: Jaime Pressly (My Name is Earl) has been tapped as the lead opposite Katie Finneran in this comedy, which centers on two women, Annie (Pressly) and Nikki (Finneran), who now have
daughters just like the girls who picked on them in high school. From Warner Bros. TV. (Score = 3)

Little in Common: Comedy about three families united through their kids’ little league sports. It centers on the Caucasian, oh-so-proper Wellers (Rob Corddry, Paula Marshall) who move from San Jose, CA to Austin, TX, but find that their adjustment won’t be quite that easy, considering that their Latino neighbors, the Pachecos have a different philosophy regarding child-rearing. From Warner Bros. TV. (Score = 3)

Outnumbered: Adapted from a British family comedy about a set of parents’ challenge to raise three precocious kids. Stars Cheech Marin. From 20th Television. (Score = 2)

Tagged: This ensemble comedy drama is set in a coroner’s office. It centers on a son and his emotionally absent father. Gary Cole stars. From Sony and Reveille. (Score = 2)

Here’s a nightly look at CW and where the network needs the most help in the fall.

Monday’s pairing of 90210 with Gossip Girl has lost momentum. Yes, it’s true that 90210 earned the distinction of being the most time-shifted show on television and boasted a Live-Plus-7-day ratings contribution that more than doubled its women 18-34 audience, but percentage gains on a very small base can be misleading. Gossip Girl has slipped this season and is on shaky ground. Needs 1-2 new hours.

We’d like to see both shows get replaced by two new family drama hours, such as Hart of Dixie, Heavenly or Danni Lewinski. It would be akin to restoring the night with a 7th Heaven/Everwood-like vibe.

One Tree Hill, (now in its eighth season) opened up Tuesday at 8pm and is down by nearly half a rating point versus last year. While critically acclaimed, the sophomore season of Life Unexpected struggled in the 9pm hour and recently ended its run.

Cheerleader drama Hellcats, which had been the lead-out to America’s Next Top Model, recently took over the 9pm time period during midseason. Needs 0-1 new hours.

We’d like to see the network launch a new drama at 9 p.m. and shift Hellcats to Fridays (should it get a renewal).

Wednesday saw America’s Next Top Model back for its 16th cycle and making impressive viewership gains. The addition of a new judge, Vogue Magazine’s Contributing Fashion editor André Leon Talley, during the show’s 14th cycle, gave the show new energy. ANTM was number one in its time period among women 18-34 during the fall. Shedding for the Wedding (hosted by shedder success Sarah Rue) launched during midseason.

The weight loss competition has lost a lot of viewers from its ANTM lead-in and is currently the lowest-rated show on the network. Needs 0-1 new hours.

Vampire Diaries (now in its second season), currently airs on Thursday at 8pm. During its freshman year, the drama was an instant success, and it quickly became the network’s top-ranked scripted series.

The vampire drama is not the most compatible lead-in for the freshman action/adventure thriller Nikita at 9pm. Needs 0-1 new hours. We’d like to see Vampire Diaries paired with potential series Secret Circle (and Nikita shift to Wednesday).

Smallville and Supernatural (8 and 9pm, respectively) were re-located to Friday night. This will be the 10th and final season for the Superhero series. Should Supernatural get renewed, we’d like to see it followed by a sophomore season of Nikita or perhaps new zombie drama, The Awakening.

In Development for CW
Here are descriptions of shows that, at this writing, are already in production or pre-production, or have stars attached that merit inclusion.

The Awakening: Trying to capitalize on the success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, this action thriller tells the story of two sisters played by Meredith Hagner (FX’s Lights Out) and Lucy Griffiths (BBC’s Robin Hood), who face off during a zombie uprising. Titus Welliver stars as a mysterious figure who is hunting the zombies behind the first wave of the awakening. From WBTV and Reveille. Zombies are trendy at the moment. CW seems good at developing supernatural themed shows. (Score = 4)

Secret Circle: This new drama from Kevin Williamson (creator of Dawson’s Creek and the Scream franchise) centers on Cassie (Britt Robertson) who moves to a new town and discovers that not only is she a witch and part of a secret coven, but she’s also the key that will unlock a centuries-old battle of good versus evil. Natasha Henstidge plays Dawn Chamberlain, Vice Principal of New Salem High School, who was once a
friend of Cassie’s mother and knows all about the secret coven of witches that has ruled the town for over 300 years.

On paper, it reminds us of the successful Charmed and the failed Eastwick. From CBS Television Studios and Alloy Entertainment. Kevin Williamson’s ability to connect with young adults, along with his penchant for horror
movies, could very well land this on the program slate. Seems like a good bet paired with Vampire Diaries. (Score = 4)

Hart of Dixie: This fish-out-of-water comedy drama, which stars Rachel Bilson (The O.C), is about a doctor from the Big Apple who inherits a medical practice and moves to a small town inhabited by quirky characters.
From Warner Bros. TV. Josh Schwartz, who connected with teens when he launched The O.C., could re-create the magic now that he and Bilson are working together again. (Score = 4)

Heavenly: Drama about Lily, who is an attorney, and Dashiel, a former angel recently turned human, who team up to tackle cases at an attorney’s legal aid clinic. British actor Ben Aldridge is set to play Dashiel. Too many supernatural themes might leave this on the outside. From CBS Television Studios. (Score = 3)

Danni Lowinski: A young female law school grad, who is unable to find a job, decides to open her own law office – in a kiosk at the local mall. Cast to date: Amanda Walsh, Carla Gallo, Neal Bledsoe, George Dzundza,
Utkarsh Ambudkar. From CBS Television Studios. (Score = 3)

Cooper and Stone: A contemporary drama centered on two young women, who are the best of friends, facing the same personal and professional struggles as any other women their age. Despite having their
own individual styles and very different backgrounds, they share a unique bond: they’re partnered as two of Chicago’s best homicide detectives. Cast to date: Alexandra Breckenridge, Riley Smith. From CBS Television Studios. Not your typical CW show. But if they want to expand beyond the women 18-34 demo, this has a chance. (Score = 3)

Brill can be reached at [email protected]. She tells RBR-TVBR the entire report series can be ordered here