Continuing with a weeklong look at how the new season is shaping up, night by night, with thoughts on the pilots and selected season premieres, among other goodies.
Wednesday in a Nutshell: Hey, Fox, save something for everyone else. That's the inescapable feeling as a new juggernaut looms in The X Factor, which many expect to approach American Idol levels, at least initially, if only because of the thunderous Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul reunion hype. This will not be good news for its main reality competition, CBS' long-running Survivor franchise. But there's always room for counterprogramming in comedy and drama, which is why even if numbers are depressed a bit for ABC's sitcom lineup, there's no reason to fret when the shows are as terrific as The Middle and Emmy champ Modern Family — and this year, there's even a promising sitcom airing between them, the broadly satirical Suburgatory (premiering next week). At 10/9c, ABC's sudsy Revenge saga will consider it lucky if it can get arrested, given that it's going up against a showdown between two longtime crime titans. Look for CBS' established crime dramas to thrive — Criminal Minds has owned its slot for years — and then things get interesting at 10/9c as the CSI mothership moves from Thursdays, with Ted Danson now at the helm, facing Law & Order: SVU, which suffers a big loss with the departure of Christopher Meloni. Neither show is what you'd call a spring chicken, but Danson does put a little spring back in the step of the Las Vegas crime lab. Elsewhere on NBC, it's likely to look grim for the new comedies Up All Night and especially Free Agents, while Harry's Law makes its argument for David E. Kelley's brand of legal absurdism. With the CW, many are laying bets that the repulsive H8R isn't long for this world, but how that affects the all-star America's Next Top Model remains to be seen.
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So what else is on? ... Someone finds an immunity idol on CBS' Survivor: South Pacific (8/7c). That didn't take long. ... The fans have spoken, and Paget Brewster and A.J. Cook are back full time on CBS' Criminal Minds (9/8c), but first the BAU is subjected to tough questioning by a Senate committee, led by Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men), who's always so good at being bad. ... Another reason to mourn Fox's cancellation of Human Target? Mark Valley is back to playing a lawyer on a David E. Kelley show, joining NBC's Harry's Law (9/8c) in its second season. It's just one of many changes, including welcoming another new associate (Tony winner Karen Olivo) as the firm moves into a plush loft. Guest stars include Alfred Molina as a murder defendant and Jean Smart as Harry's new adversary, the D.A. ... And here's a fun bit of moonlighting. Dean Norris, so memorable as Breaking Bad's pugnacious DEA agent/brother-in-law Hank, plays host to the History special The Stoned Ages (9/8c), exploring the long history of drug cultivation and use from ancient civilizations to modern pharmaceuticals (dare we say meth?).