We’re tackling the new fall TV schedule night by night, moving onto Thursday night.
Let’s bitch it out…
The following table does not include online / streaming series from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. These will be addressed at the bottom of the post on the appropriate days.
THURSDAY TV DEATHMATCH
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Hourly Breakdown: 8pm EST
- ABC kicks off TGIT with the first of three Shonda Rhimes shows, Greys Anatomy (Sept 24) which famously killed out McDreamy in the season finale. Whether or not the series can survive the lost of its male lead is a question on most people’s minds, but clearly not in ABC’s or Shonda Rhimes, who firmly believe that the long-running medical drama has staying power beyond its cast shake-ups. If any cracks show in the Shondaland world, expect them to appear here, though all of the protests and threats to never watch again are unlikely to end up affecting the bottom line when it comes down to it.
- CBS offers football for the first few months of the season just like last year. And just like last year, those numbers will dominate. The Big Bang Theory (Sept 21) and Life In Pieces will both debut on Monday, Sept 21 before shifting to their usual Thursday timeslots on Nov 5. Big Bang throws a wrench into the Leonard/Penny honeymoon with a third party, while new series Life…is basically a Modern Family knock-off that has a few note-worthy actors, but seems destined for the TV dustbin.
- FOX offers up the 11th season of ol’reliable, Bones (Oct 1) which picks up six months after Booth and Brennan took early retirement. Look for a new baby and Booth’s disappearance to factor heavily in the opening hours.
- NBC shoots for the moon with a revamped/revised/rebooted/ressurected take on Heroes Reborn (Sept 24). The limited series hopes to capture the lightning in a bottle that made the original incarnation so popular…at least in its first season. As we previewed in our September Watch With Us column, here’s hoping the writers have figured out what made the superpower series so compelling in the first place.
- The CW‘s The Vampire Diaries (Oct 8) reveals a new mystery in a series of flashforwards over 3 years while the Steroline relationship takes center stage. Most interesting is how the series – and fans – carry on in the wake of Nina Dobrev’s departure in the season finale. For some, Elena’s departure will prove liberating; for others, the show may have lost its core. Regardless of which category people fall into, at seven seasons, TVD is getting a bit long in the tooth, so it will be interesting to see how much life the Mystic Falls crew has left.
Hourly Breakdown: 9pm EST
- ABC‘s TGIT continues with Scandal (Sept 24). Last season Liv and Fitz finally got together after Jake refused to play second fiddle and Command was sent to the bad boy box. We can only hope that we never hear the words B613 ever again. Moving forward, Shonda Rhimes has hinted that the Gladiators are getting back together, so that’s something to look forward to. Ratings-wise ABC just needs Scandal to continue being a Twitter-phenomenon…or at least a second-status Twitter-phenomenon now that HTGAWM is dominating the discussion (see below).
- CBS starts its Thursday comedy block late. First up: Mom (Nov 5), which plans to lighten up on the mother/daughter strife that developed over S2 when Bonnie fell off the wagon. Look for CBS’ most hot button comedy to continue tackling serious issues amidst the laughs, including Regina’s declaration that she is no longer an addict and the introduction of a young, bitchy addict in the AA group. Mom‘s 8:30 companion series is the new Jane Lynch comedy Angel From Hell (Nov 5) – the title of which sounds about right. This comedy looks both forced and predictable so unless it gets better, this could be a weak spot on the schedule. Also: will Lynch wear that same outfit all season?
- FOX moves Sleepy Hollow (Sept 24) from Mondays to a new 9pm Thursday time slot, which is either a vote of confidence or a death warrant. Last year the combination of uninteresting new characters, poor plotting and removing the elements that made S1 so much fun nearly killed the show, which received a last minute reprieve when FOX gambled on 18 episodes with a new showrunner. Considering how the series collapsed in a disastrous sophomore slump last year and its new competitive time slot, it’s time to ask if the changes are enough or if the damage has already been done? If we had to bet money, we’re guessing this will be the last season of the (now Irving and Horseman-less) series.
- The name of NBC‘s latest The Blacklist (Oct 1) promo says it all: there’s a new name on the top of the list and it belongs to protagonist Liz Keen. After murdering skeezy Cabal member Connolly, Lizzie is being hunted by her own blacklist team. Here’s hoping that the creative refresh does wonders for the peacock thriller, which took a nosedive going up against the Gladiators last season. While the show is certainly no longer the great white hope for NBC, there’s still plenty of mileage left in this conspiracy-laden series, so as long as NBC is prepared to back up trucks full of cash to James Spader’s door, The Blacklist isn’t going anywhere.
- The CW‘s The Originals (Oct 8) shockingly <sarcasm> kicks off S3 with the promise of more family drama. A six month time jump moves things along, picking up with Cami’s practice and introducing Jason Dohring’s (woot!) human cop. Plus, in keeping with the show’s trademark reliance on flashbacks to provide context (and narrative fodder) to the Mikkaelson’s lives, the season premiere also jumps back 1000 years!
- Cable Haven (Oct 8) returns to Syfy to wrap up the second half of its fifth and final season. Presumably the remaining episodes will focus on the fall-out from Part A’s cliffhanger involving Mara’s lie to Charlotte about Duke’s curse and how it kinda/sorta didn’t get turned off. Oops!
Hourly Breakdown: 10pm EST
- Had Empire not showed up, ABC would have walked away with the biggest breakout of the 2014-2015 TV season courtesy of Shondaland series How To Get Away With Murder (Sept 24). The first season generated all kinds of buzz for its refreshingly open take on race (that hair removal scene!) and sexuality (those hot gay sex scenes!). Plus S1 ended with the death of annoying two-dimensional Rebecca, which promises a new mystery for Annalise’s team to solve. Bring. It. On.
- CBS ended the third season of its “not the BBC version” Sherlock Holmes series Elementary (Nov 5) on a dark note: Holmes succumbed to his demons and began using drugs again. S4 introduces a very exciting character in the form of Sherlock’s father (played by Sleepy Hollow refugee John Noble, perfectly cast) who is brought in by Joan to help. Expect fireworks between father and son and some mighty fine drama, as well.
- NBC‘s other high octane thriller featuring a Strike Back guy is The Player (Sept 24), a Vegas-set series about Alex Kane, a man hired by a wealthy and mysterious benefactor (played by Wesley Snipes) to prevent crime. The strange twist is that Kane’s actions are being bet on by the Vegas rich. Plus there’s a conspiracy (there’s always a goddamn conspiracy!). The trailer above suggests an appropriately dumb amount of action, but it’s unlikely that this adrenaline/testosterone-fueled series has the chops to take down TGIT’s formidable HTGAWM.
- Cable: IFC gets into the game with Dennis Leary’s new comedy series, Benders (Oct 1). The show is about a group of friends bonded by their obsession with the local hockey team, the Chubbys, and the fall-out that occurs from their slavish devotion.
That’s it for Thursday. Check back tomorrow for Friday TV deathmatch, which is all about online TV.