Wednesday night (Sept. 21) will likely bring one of the biggest premieres of the fall to your television. But that’s not what we’re interested in here.
Look, we know “The X Factor” will probably have a big opening and will likely dominate the competition in the first two hours of primetime. We’re curious to see how the likes of “Survivor,” “Up All Night” and ABC’s comedy block hold up against FOX’s heavily hyped talent competition, but what really intrigues us is the situation at 10 p.m. ET.
That’s when the two longest-running prime-time dramas currently on the air — “Law & Order: SVU” and “CSI” — go head-to-head in a battle for crime-show fans. ABC, meanwhile, will try to reverse its recent Wednesday-at-10 curse with the soapy new drama “Revenge.” Let’s break it down.
Old shows + new stars = what, exactly? “SVU” is undergoing its first big cast shakeup since midway through its first season … in 1999-2000. Original co-lead Chris Meloni has left, as has B.D. Wong (who’s moving to another NBC series, the midseason drama “Awake”) and two new regulars (Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino, who shows up in the second episode) are joining the squad.
“CSI” has had a few more comings and goings since it debuted in the 2000-01 season, but it’s also been pretty stable for a show that’s been around as long as it has. Laurence Fishburne, who replaced original star William Petersen a couple years go, is out, and Ted Danson is in as the new supervisor of the Las Vegas crime lab.
Will that give the ratings for either show a boost? Tough to say. “SVU” probably has the harder road to travel, since Meloni’s Elliot Stabler was so heavily identified with the show. Danson is once removed from Petersen, who was much loved by “CSI’s” fan base, so the pressure on him is probably lower.
We’re guessing “CSI” will win the cop-show fight — its 13.5 million viewers and 3.3 rating among adults 18-49 last season were bigger than “SVU’s” 8.8 million and 2.8. But we’re also guessing the gap might not be that wide.
Will “Revenge” be sweet? “The Whole Truth,” “Eastwick,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “The Nine,” “Invasion.” Those are the series that, since 2005, have begun the season as ABC’s 10 p.m. Wednesday show. “Dirty Sexy Money” is the only one that made it to a second season, and even that comes with an asterisk (the writers strike shortened its first season, and it was canceled the following year after a total of 23 episodes).
The time period has, for whatever reason, been a black hole for ABC in recent years. The network has put a lot of marketing muscle behind “Revenge” in hopes of breaking the streak, and it seems like the kind of show ABC viewers will like. “Modern Family” should give it a decent lead-in this week, and it can hope that “Happy Endings,” which debuts at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 28, shows some growth over its first season.
What will you be watching at 10 on Wednesday?