[As in years past, this week, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. I'm also probably gonna ignore that I have a fancy new six-tuner DVR that means that I really don't have to make choices anymore. This will assume that I make choices for my own sanity.]
ABC: “Last Man Standing,” “Dr. Ken”
CBS: “The Amazing Race”
The CW: “Reign”
FOX: “MasterChef Junior”
NBC: “Undateable,” “People Are Talking”
ABC: “Shark Tank”
CBS: “Hawaii Five-0”
The CW: “America's Next Top Model”
FOX: “World's Funniest”
CBS: “Blue Bloods”
What's Changed: CBS is keeping intact the Friday lineup that won pretty much every important week of the season overall, while ABC is keeping the majority of the Friday lineup that won nearly every important week of the season in the key demo. Only “Dr. Ken,” subbing in for “Cristela,” has changed. “MasterChef Junior” was supposed to air here last year, but “Utopia” tanked and FOX realized “MasterChef Junior” might perform well mid-week. And it did. But it's back here. The CW is transplanting the low-rating “Reign” here, because even though it really won't perform acceptably, The CW doesn't need to care and there are other business reasons why Season 3 of “Reign” exists at all. The biggest shift, then, is NBC turning over the 8 p.m. hour to comedy, including the much discussed live season of “Undateable.” This is the only comedy block on NBC's schedule. And this means that after “Dracula” and “Constantine” died quickly and after “Hannibal” was deemed unfit for in-season, that NBC has decided not to bother trying to find a drama series pairing with “Grimm.” Oh well.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: Even with “Hawaii Five-0” and “Blue Bloods” in small decline and “The Amazing Race” in a large decline, there's no chance that CBS surrenders the night overall. And it hardly matters how “Dr. Ken” does, because “Shark Tank” will perform well enough to basically guarantee ABC the win in the key demo. Even if “Undateable” has proven its ability to get OK numbers in weak time periods — remember that its first season aired during the summer — “People Are Talking” doesn't seem especially buzzy unless NBC is able to make a splash when recasting Meaghan Rath's role, so best case scenario has NBC maybe moving ahead of CBS in the key demo and taking second behind ABC. FOX will definitely get better numbers from “MasterChef Junior” than with the mess it was airing here last year, but don't be surprised if FOX holds off on the “MasterChef Junior” premiere until a couple weeks into the season to see if something like “Rosewood” fails fast and an immediately replacement is necessary. There's at least a chance that “MasterChef Junior” never airs here at all, like last year. And The CW has taken an odd step back on Fridays, but the network probably just doesn't care.
My Predicted DVR: When “Undateable” aired its first live episode, I was pleased enough that I promised on Twitter that I'd watch any future live episodes they did. I didn't expect NBC to call my bluff this aggressively, but I'll be true to my word. I'll also watch a couple episodes of both “Dr. Ken” and “People Are Talking,” but maybe not more than a couple. And, of course, I'll be watching “The Amazing Race” as usual.
How have the new schedules impacted your Fridays?
DVR Gridlock 2015-16: Thursday Nights
DVR Gridlock 2015-16: Wednesday Nights
DVR Gridlock 2015-16: Tuesday Nights
DVR Gridlock 2015-16: Monday Nights
Last year's DVR Gridlock series