After an “upfront week” that spanned five and a half weeks, from Fox unveiling its fall lineup on May 11 to ABC announcing its fall roster earlier today, June 17, we have a fall 2020 broadcast network schedule.
The grid is as atypical as the way it was unveiled this year amid a coronavirus pandemic. It is a tale of two schedules as it juxtaposes two strikingly different approaches to the fall:
- Fox, the CW — a pandemic-proof schedule comprised by acquisitions, other series already in the can (+ sports), that can launch at the start of the broadcast season in September;
- CBS, NBC, ABC — a regular schedule featuring the networks’ returning series and a couple of new additions, whose launch is up in the air and likely will be later in the fall depending when TV production can resume.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the timing and sustainability of Hollywood’s return to production, it is unclear how many of the series on the grid with yet-to-be-filmed seasons will actually face each other on a weekly basis in the fall. Additionally, in light of the upheaval in the 2019-20 pilot cycle that left all but one broadcast pilot unproduced, CBS, NBC and ABC all relied heavily on stability, with very few scheduling changes from last season.
Still, there are are a couple of intriguing new face-offs on the “fall” 2020 broadcast schedule:
Kim Cattrall vs. Kim Cattrall: Because of the pandemic, Fox held two new midseason drama series, including Tate Taylor’s Filthy Rich starring Kim Cattrall, for fall. Meanwhile, the CW leaned on acquisitions for a COVID-proof fall lineup, including the CBS All Access’ 2018 Kevin Williamson anthology drama Tell Me a Story starring… Kim Cattrall. By some scheduling fluke, both series will go toe-to-toe in the Tuesday 9 PM hour.
Olivia Benson vs. Meredith Grey: NBC’s Law & Order: SVU and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy both hold primetime records — SVU, heading into its 22nd season, is the longest-running live-action scripted series in primetime TV history, while ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, going into Season 17, is the longest-running medical drama ever.
Yet, after being on the air together for 16 years, the series featuring two of the most beloved female drama characters of all time, Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson and Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, had never crossed paths on the schedule. Until now. With SVU moving from Thursday 10 PM to 9 PM next fall to launch spinoff Law & Order: Organized Crime, and Grey’s Anatomy having made the move from Thursday 8 PM to 9 PM midway through last season to accommodate its spinoff, Station 19, the two mothership series will go head-to-head in the 9 PM time period.