Ten hot TV battlegrounds

MiC takes a look at 2010 network fight cards and picks 10 of the hottest timeslot bouts.

Who will win Monday night’s white-hot police showdown? Wednesday’s new 8 p.m., reality versus spy-fantasy challenge? Thursday’s comedy face-off?

Last year might have been lower-key for fall TV flash thanks to the recession, but this year, the gloves are back off, with Rogers throwing down a competitive lineup against network stalwarts Global and CTV. With each net investing in high-quality dramas and a few clever shifts of timeslot, MiC has picked some of the hottest battlegrounds for fall 2010.

1. Monday at 8 p.m.: This red-hot night of programming across the networks kicks off at 8 p.m. with a four-channel showdown between House on Global, Citytv’s comedy combo of How I Met Your Mother and the new David Spade comedy Rules of Engagement, Dancing with the Stars on CTV and the CBC’s new Paul Gross-helmed sitcom Men with Brooms. That’s a tough comedy hour for Brooms to start in, but maybe curling will prove to be as attractive to audiences as D-list celebrities in dancing shoes.

2. Monday at 9 p.m.: Citytv’s new cliffhanger drama, The Event, already has people buzzing about its Lost-like potential, but how will it fare against Global’s new primetime soap Lonestar? This bout has a lot of star potential – a presidential assassination plot (maybe) against greedy con-men bilking greedy oil-men out of their money!

3. Monday at 10 p.m.: This may be the hottest battle of the fall season. Global debuts one of the most talked-about shows of the upfronts with Hawaii Five-O, a gritty, well-cast remake of the ’70s classic. Its main handicap? Audiences soured on remakes may stay away. It goes up against the new Jerry Bruckheimer show on Citytv, Chase, featuring a pretty detective who’ll go to any lengths to catch the bad guys. And over on CTV, the net has moved slow-cooker Castle into the prime 10 p.m. slot, as the rakish writer and stern cop solve crimes in New York City. It raises the question: why pit all these cop shows against one another? Is this a weird plot to get people to use PVRs?

4. Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Here, runaway hit Glee on Global will face a family of four who gain superhero powers after surviving a plane crash in No Ordinary Family. Both fall within the geek-hero genre and No Ordinary could give people tired of ’80s songs a primetime alternative. But this is a tough slot for No Ordinary: Michael Chiklis is no Cory Monteith and tepid character likeability may be a factor here.

5. Wednesday at 8 p.m.: This vies with Monday at 10 p.m. for hottest timeslot of the fall. With Survivor moving to Wednesday from its previous Thursday home on Global, the 21st season of the reality show will go head to head with J.J. Abrams’ new spy-comedy Undercovers on Citytv, So You Think You Can Dance Canada on CTV and Dragons’ Den on CBC. Nice to see some counter-programming here! Each incumbent can keep their base intact and Undercovers is well-poised to scoop up non-reality fans.

6. Wednesday at 10 p.m.: Global’s established Lie to Me goes up against newcomers The Whole Truth on Citytv – another new Bruckheimer drama, this one portraying trials from both perspective of both the defence and prosecution – and Law and Order: Los Angeles on CTV, a sexed-up version of the franchise. (Think CSI: Miami.) The new L&O is obviously shooting for a younger demo, while The Whole Truth is more boomer-ific. Factoring in the Bruckheimer effect, we’re thinking The Whole Truth has hot potential here.

7. Thursday at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.: Thursday nights have shaped up very, very interestingly. Comedy fans may choose to build a network-hopping night starting with Citytv’s Community/30 Rock lineup at 8 p.m., then moving to Global for The Office at 9 p.m. and dubious new comedy Outsourced at 9:30 (unless they retool this pilot, it’s nowhere near Office calibre). But there’s also an interesting head-to-head geek-com battle poised to go down at 8 p.m., pitting Community against CTV’s The Big Bang Theory (which got so hot on Mondays it beat House‘s season finale this spring). Community skews a bit younger, but Bang is on a heck of a role – maybe it’ll be decided with a special, cross-network game of celebrity Jeopardy. (For the ladies, A has the new Nikita remake, starring Maggie Q, at 9 p.m.)

8. Thursday at 10 p.m.: This is really a no-contest contest, in which four dramas of completely different demos may agree to call it a draw and share Canadian audiences. The Sex and the City-inspired Love Bites goes for the girls on Global, Law and Order: UK goes for the boomers on Citytv, CTV has The Mentalist (a good old-fashioned cop mystery) and CBC targets the more serious among us with Doc Zone.

9. Friday at 9 p.m.: Here we see a bantamweight, new Canadian drama Shattered on Global, going up against long-running heavyweight, CSI: NY on CTV. Here’s hoping Shattered has some fancy footwork…

10. Sunday at 10 p.m.: The new Jimmy Smits courtroom drama Outlaw on Global – we still aren’t sure about post-NYPD Blue Smits – takes on CTV’s Blue Bloods, starring Tom Selleck, about a family of New York City cops. Selleck versus Smits? We like Selleck in the fourth round, as Blue Bloods has the stronger ensemble and Smits is pretty much the sole attraction in Outlaw.