Katharine McPhee

ABC isn't giving its regards to Broadway. The network has quietly slotted in an original two-hour episode of The Bachelor on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9/8c — directly opposite the Season 2 premiere of NBC's musical drama Smash.

Such a move puts an extra obstacle in Smash's way. The show will already face off against original episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles and Vegas on CBS (and new episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project on Fox).

ABC had an extra episode of The Bachelor in its arsenal and was waiting for a moment to deploy it. That's where Feb. 5 came into play: It just so happens that the two-hour block was free. At 9 p.m., Happy Endings was on a break that night (and Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 is already gone), while at 10 p.m., Body of Proof — originally scheduled to return with its Season 3 premiere on Feb. 5 — had been pushed back to Feb. 19.

Could The Bachelor have Smash singing the blues? CBS airs the mightier competition, but The Bachelor is on the rise so far this winter, particularly among young females, winning its normal Monday night timeslot among women 18-34. For the special Tuesday episode, shot in the mountains of Canada, ABC is promising that Bachelor Sean delivers "a shocking elimination of one of the women that no one saw coming."

ABC's Bachelor play is a reminder that even as viewers find new ways when and where to watch TV, the networks still enjoy a feisty scheduling game. NBC's move last fall to schedule an extra episode of The Voice opposite the premiere of Fox's The X Factor is credited with helping slow any momentum from Simon Cowell and company.

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