Jay Leno may be soaking up all the media oxygen this week, but his new NBC show is hardly the only big TV event this week.
Outside of premiere week, this promises to be the biggest seven-day frame of the year for new and returning series on both broadcast and cable TV. Well over a dozen programs bow between now and Sunday.
Here’s a look at the seven-day ratings forecast:
MONDAY: Leno will open nicely but probably won’t set any records. For a complete analysis of what to expect, click here.
Earlier in the night, the CW is hoping the ratings for the season premieres of "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl" are more in line with Thursday’s "Vampire Diaries" debut — and not a repeat of the soft open for "Melrose Place."
TUESDAY: NBC’s "The Biggest Loser" returns for another season of bloated two-hour episodes. Will viewers tire of watching so much fake drama squeezed out of what should really be an hourlong program? Probably not.
Also tonight: the season finale of "More to Love," the disappointing summer reality competition that nonetheless may get a second chance. And we’ll see if CW’s "Melrose Place" can avoid the 30 percent dive "90210" took last year (we’re betting it will).
WEDNESDAY: Tonight’s big question mark is episode three of "Glee." It should be able to hold on to much of last week’s solid debut, but if there’s double digit erosion it could spell trouble for the series once regular network competition returns in a week.
Over at the CW, meanwhile, "The Beautiful Life: TBL" premieres. The network’s marketing has bordered on brilliant, with beautiful, attention-grabbing posters (the Mischa meltdown didn’t hurt, either). If this series works, however, it’ll be the definition of left-field hit.
THURSDAY: NBC’s solid comedy night returns, minus "30 Rock" (gotta wait til October) and with the temporary addition of "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday." Will viewers be interested in Thursday "SNL" without a big election peg?
All eyes will also be on the Peacock’s critically loved newcomer "Community." Everybody in the media seems to want Joel McHale to become a star, but it’s unclear if viewers will latch on to this quiet half-hour. Another question mark: Has "Parks and Recreation" gotten any better?
Fox, meanwhile, takes one of its biggest gambles with the move of freshman hit "Fringe" to the 9 p.m. slot (behind "Bones"). A strong cliffhanger should give this show a nice debut, but things will get tougher when "CSI" and "Grey’s Anatomy" return next week. Keep an eye on the DVR numbers for "Fringe."
On cable, FX "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" will try to build on its core cult audience.
And then there’s "Survivor."
Some ratings pundits like to wring their hands because, after 18 editions, it’s pretty much a given this show is going to score series-low ratings with every premiere from now on. So what? "Survivor" still has a strong base, is (relatively) cheap to produce and this year seems to have found a villain in league with the legendary Richard Hatch (or so CBS spin would have us believe).
FRIDAY: Two shows nobody really wanted to see back return nonetheless: Fox’s " ‘TIl Death" and Starz’ "Crash." They seem incapable of living up to their titles.
SUNDAY: A quiet night as most networks yield to the Emmys. But not HBO: It debuts the quirky noir comedy "Bored to Death" and finally returns "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (it’s the "Seinfeld" reunion season!)
As for the Emmys, the fact that they’re on CBS this year may be enough to ensure they don’t fall to another Nielsen low. That doesn’t make them any less likely to be deadly dull.