Forget what Nielsen says: The new TV season starts now.
True, most new shows are still one to two weeks away from premiering; ditto returning series. But after several months in which the ratings didn’t really matter, starting now, they do.
Each Sunday over the next month, as the new season launches, TV MoJoe also plans to preview the key battles and ratings challenges for the week ahead. We might even (foolishly) offer a few predictions as to how we think shows will fare.
Here are the seven big TV events to keep an eye on this week :
1. The CW’s Big Night (Part One): Tonight, Sept. 8, brings the second season premiere of "90210" and the premiere of "Melrose Place." It’s a crucial test for the CW, which is betting big that remakes can draw new audiences while attracting some older viewers who enjoyed the originals.
CW execs aren’t afraid to brag about the improving quality of "90210" and they’re hoping viewers agree. It’ll be hard to top the show’s freshman bow– 4.9 million viewers, a record–but if "90210" can add 10-20 percent to last spring’s "90210" finale (2.1 million), it’ll have reason to be happy.
Likewise, hopes are sky-high for "Melrose." The network would love to break the record set by "90210," but that seems a tall order. Anything with a 3 in front of it would be a home run.
2. "So You Think You Can Dance" In-Season: After five cycles in the summer, Fox’s dance-ified version of "American Idol" moves to the fall (Wednesdays at 8). The network is testing the loyalty of fans who just watched a full season of the show, but the bet should pay off.
In any event, even if the numbers aren’t blockbuster, Fox will almost certainly have upgraded over its normal fall fare.
3. At Long Last, "Glee": Fox has given Ryan Murphy’s musical comedy the biggest opening act ever, hyping it relentlessly since May.
The good news is, there’s clearly a die-hard audience ready to embrace "Glee" as the Best. Show. Ever.
The bad? It’s unclear if ordinary viewers– the ones who ultimately decide if shows live or die– give a darn about "Glee." All the build-up might even have the effect of turning off some possible viewers.
Our prediction: "Glee" (airing Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 9) will do better than some cynics are predicting but won’t be a breakout hit. That’s probably good enough to ensure this show gets a back-nine.
4. It’s the End of the World As We Know It and History Feels Fine: History has been pumping end of days reality documentary "The Nostradamus Effect" big-time in movie theaters. Indeed, after seeing the very impactful mini-trailer during a showing of "Inglourious Basterds," TV MoJoe’s mamma declared, "I’ve got to put this on my DVR."
In scary times, people like to be scared even more. This series (bowing Sept. 9 at 9) could be another winner for the red-hot History.
5. The CW’s Big Night (Part Two): The bloodsucker craze in pop culture gets a big test with Thursday’s 8 p.m. launch of "The Vampire Diaries."
This is the kind of show, which, if it works, could define the CW. Don’t expect anyone at the network to get much sleep Thursday night as they wait for ratings.
We think "Diaries" will definitely get sampled as viewers look to see if the new show is a worthy addition to the genre. Whether they’ll stick by it once the likes of "Survivor" and "Bones" return is a much more difficult call.
6. MTV Tests Its Brand (Again): Russell Brand is back as host of the VMAs, airing Sunday. This, despite the "controversy" over his appearance last year.
In any case, we’ll be on the lookout for some major surprises. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Madonna all have new albums out this quarter. Surely one or more of them will find an appearance useful to their marketing. (Maybe Mariah will premiere her cover of "I Want to Know What Love Is"?)
7. Sunday, "Blood"-y Sunday: Assuming two weeks off didn’t slow its big mo, HBO’s completely on fire "True Blood" should set a series record with its second season sign-off Sunday. The series has accomplished the remarkable feat of adding viewers throughout the season, making it a bona fide cable phenom.
Can it go out with a bang? We say: Are you kidding? Nothing will suck about the numbers for this finale– except HBO execs remembering that its Sunday comedies won’t do nearly as well with viewers in the coming weeks.