It hasn’t been a great fall season for new shows, and even some of the better-rated series premieres like Hawaii Five-O, The Event, and Law & Order: Los Angeles came in under expectations and exhibited less-than-breakout appeal. Still, at least those shows felt on-brand for their networks; this fall season’s most puzzling mystery isn’t why so many of the new shows are struggling, but why they feel like they were developed for completely different networks than the ones that aired them. Here are five fall shows that would have been much better served elsewhere on the dial.
Current Network: NBC, where it slipped nearly 25 percent this week from its already weak premiere.
Belongs On: NBC Universal stablemate USA, where it would fit right in among other light caper comedies like Covert Affairs, Psych and White Collar. While NBC is still trying to carve out a post-Leno identity, it hasn’t had much luck with anything that’s not a hard-hitting procedural or high-stakes serial (just look at how the family drama Parenthood and the comedic one-hour adventure Chuck have struggled this year).
Current Network: Fox, where the sitcom is doing okay numbers for a first-season series, yet is still losing almost half its lead-in audience from Glee.
Belongs On: ABC, where it would be a much better addition to the network’s single-camera Wednesday sitcoms than the struggling multi-camera comedy Better With You. Raising Hope is the perfect time slot companion for The Middle — both are quirky and downmarket family comedies that are better than you might expect — but could also serve as a great lead-in to the higher tax brackets of Modern Family and Cougar Town. It’d be a night of aspirational programming!
The Whole Truth
Current Network: ABC, where the Maura Tierney drama inexplicably closes out the network’s fun and frothy Wednesday night.
Belongs On: CBS, where legal dramas starring beloved former ER actresses can not only survive, but thrive. (At the very least, ABC would have been better served by pairing it with the Dana Delany vehicle Body of Proof on Fridays).
Current Network: NBC, whose hip Thursday-night audience will never forgive it for shunting Parks and Recreation to mid-season. Sure, Outsourced is a good match on paper for a night full of workplace comedies, but it feels like the kind of show Community would make fun of, Michael Scott might make a coolness-draining reference to, or 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy would cite as an example of NBC’s programming malfeasance.
Belongs On: CBS. Turn Outsourced into a multi-camera comedy, and it might actually play better as a nontraditional take on the format.
Current Network: Fox, though not anymore!
Belongs On: As has been noted in countless postmortems, Lone Star doesn’t just feel like a cable show — it feels like the kind of series that was tailor-made for FX, a network overstuffed with sexually irresistible male antiheroes. (It also wouldn’t hurt for FX to pick the show up from its big brother as a karmic make-good for letting Damages slip to the even lower-rated wilds of DirecTV.)