TV's Biggest Week Isn't So Big This Year

Sep 21, 2020

For most of my 35 years covering television, I'd write a story for the day after the Emmy Awards about TV's biggest week filled with dozens of new fall TV series and your returning favorites.

Not this year. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying production, premiere week will look very different as the networks scrambled to fill the 2020-2021 TV season starting today.

ABC will broadcast ESPN Monday Night Football tonight, and push Dancing With The Stars to Tuesday this week only.

Gabrielle Union (left) and Jessica Alba star in Fox's 'L.A.'s Finest.'
Credit Courtesy Fox Broadcasting

Broadcasters have acquired series from international and domestic networks, including the two Spectrum cable series airing tonight: Fox's L.A.'s Finest, (8 p.m.) starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba as Los Angeles police officers from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and CBS' Manhunt: Deadly Games (10 p.m.) about Richard Jewell and the 1996 Olympics terrorist attack in Atlanta starring Cameron Britton, Carla Gugino and Jack Huston.

Fox's new Filthy Rich primetime soap premiering tonight (9 p.m.) is a rare breed – a one-hour drama series produced for the network. It's available because the show was announced in May last year for the 2019-2020 TV season – and withheld from spring so Fox had fresh programming for fall. The Southern family drama stars Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) as the widow of a Christian TV network founder (Gerald McRaney from This Is Us, Major Dad) who discovers that he fathered three illegitimate children, all of whom are included in his will.

Viewers also will see a lot of game shows, since new episodes for most returning series won't be available until November.  

ABC will fill Wednesday with Guardians Of The Galaxy (8 p.m.), the 2014 Chris Pratt movie. CBS will fill Sunday night with theatrical movies this fall, as it did in May, from the Paramount Pictures vault: Old School (Oct. 4), Clueless (Oct. 11), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Oct. 18),  Scream (Oct. 25), Star Trek Beyond (Nov. 1) and Coming To America (Nov. 29).

Ellen DeGeneres greets fans on James Corden's CBS 'Late Late Show' in December 2018.
Credit Courtesy CBS

On the daytime TV schedule today, Ellen DeGeneres will address staff changes made to her Ellen talk show (4 p.m., Channels 5, 7) after numerous complaints about workplace toxicity. Three producers left the show before the 18th season premiere today.

Here's a link to my full fall TV calendar, TV Kiese's Fall TV Premiere List For New And Returning Shows.

And here's a look at what's need in the first week of the 2020-2021 TV season:

MONDAY SEPT. 21

4 p.m.: Ellen, Channels 5, 7. Season premiere.

8 p.m.: L.A.'s Finest, Fox. In this pick-up from Spectrum cable by Jerry Bruckheimer, Gabrielle Union plays a Los Angeles police officer paired with Jessica Alba.

8 p.m. American Ninja Warrior, NBC. More of Season 12, which started Sept. 7.

9 p.m.: Filthy Rich, Fox. New primetime soap starring Kim Cattrell as the widow for a Christian TV network star (Gerald McRaney) with three illegitimate children written into his will.

Cameron Britton plays Richard Jewell in CBS' 'Manhunt: Deadly Games.'
Credit Courtesy CBS

10 p.m.: Manhunt: Deadly Games, CBS. Broadcast premiere for this Spectrum Originals series about the 1996 Olympics terrorist attack in Atlanta starring Cameron Britton (as Richard Jewell), Carla Gugino and Jack Huston.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 22

8 p.m.: Cosmos: Possible Worlds, Fox. Broadcast premiere of the National Geographic Channel series.

8 p.m.: Dancing With The Stars, ABC. Second week of competition moves to Tuesday due to football, then returns to Monday next week.

9 p.m.: Frontline: The Choice, PBS. Two-hour documentary profiling President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

10 p.m. Transplant, NBC: Fourth episode of this Canadian medical drama about a Syrian doctor (Hamza Haq, Quantico) working in a Canada hospital.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23

8 p.m.: The Masked Singer, Fox, season premiere.

8 p.m.: Guardians Of The Galaxy, ABC. Another time filler: the 2014 Chris Pratt movie.

9 p.m.: I Can See Your Voice, Fox. Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Bailon-Houghton and Ken Jeong and other celebrities help one contestant tell the difference between good and bad singers, without ever hearing them sing a note.

10 p.m.: 48 Hours Suspicion, CBS. A Georgia woman confesses to shooting her boyfriend in new fall series from CBS News' 48 Hours team.

Sonequa Martin-Green stars as First Officer Michael Burnham in 'Star Trek: Discovery.'
Credit Courtesy CBS

THURSDAY SEPT. Sept. 24

8 p.m.: Celebrity Family Feud, ABC, season premiere.

9 p.m.: Press Your Luck, ABC, season premiere.

10 p.m.: Match Game, ABC, season premiere.

10 p.m.: Star Trek: Discovery, CBS. Broadcast premiere of the first season from the CBS All Access series starring Sonequa Martin-Green.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25

8 p.m.: Greatest #AtHome Videos, CBS, season premiere.

10 p.m.: Dateline NBC, NBC, season premiere.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 27

8 p.m.: The Simpsons, Fox, season premiere.

8 p.m.: iHeartRadio Music Festival (first night), CW. Concludes Monday, Sept. 28.

8:30 p.m.: Bless The Harts, Fox, season premiere.

9 p.m.: Bob's Burgers, Fox, season premiere.

9:30 p.m.: Family Guy, Fox, season premiere.