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And now, the main event. At least that's how Thursdays used to feel in past seasons. But according to the early returns in this new season's ratings race, Mondays and Tuesdays have their share of powerhouse shows as well, including the revamped Two and a Half Men and the delightful New Girl. Here's a quick overview of Thursday's programming strategies, with thoughts on tonight's pilots and some of the more notable returns.

Thursday in a Nutshell: Fox has officially planted its flag on this night, with The X Factor and (starting in November after the World Series) the durable Bones. CBS scored last season by moving The Big Bang Theory from Monday, but the feeble How To Be a Gentleman (premiering next week) reminds us how hard it can be to find the right companion piece. CBS' biggest risk: Moving CSI off the night to make room for the offbeat crime thriller Person of Interest. Look for The Mentalist, coming off last season's powerful cliffhanger, to continue to dominate, though NBC's Prime Suspect may lure away some of the procedural crowd. On ABC, Grey's Anatomy remains the jewel in a tarnished crown, stranded between the moronic Charlie's Angels reboot and the insipid Private Practice. NBC's comedies nicely fulfill the cult quota, though the shrill Whitney stands out in all the wrong ways. And the CW's The Vampire Diaries is the night's guiltiest pleasure, unfortunately saddled with a virtual clone in The Secret Circle.

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