Welcome to Thunderdome: DVR edition!
Fall is a stressful time for TV watchers everywhere. You have to remember when your favorite shows return, when the new ones debut, and—worst of all—decide which ones make the cut on your perpetually full DVR. Since E! News has seen all the fall shows already (#humblebrag), here's our handy guide to assist you in your programming decisions.
Below, allow us to take you through the most hotly contested time slots of the fall, from the epic dancing-versus-singing struggle of Monday nights to the Shonda Rhimesvs. everyone else showdown of Thursdays. May the best show win!
Battle rounds or ballroom bouts, that is the question! Monday nights are home to two of television's biggest reality competition series: Dancing With the Stars and The Voice. This DVR Battle will depend entirely on your favorite medium—dance or song. Of note: The Voice doesn't typically become watercooler fodder until the live shows debut, so perhaps that's best watched time delayed on a DVR (and postponing the true decision until later in the fall). If reality's not your thing, 8 p.m. will also feature CBS' mega-hit The Big Bang Theory until Thursday Night Football is over in November, plus Fox's comic book drama Gotham. Batman vs. Adam Levine? Say it ain't so!
Verdict: If you want to be able to converse with your coworkers on Tuesdays, DWTS is your best bet to watch live. Then, you can DVR The Voice and tune in to Gotham (and its lead-out, Fox's new 9 p.m. offering, Minority Report) via Hulu Plus, as the five most recent episodes of Fox shows are available on the streaming service.
Some of the fall's most anticipated comedies—ABC's The Muppets, Fox's The Grinder and Grandfathered—will face off at 8 p.m. on Tuesday nights, along with one of CBS's biggest shows (NCIS) and The CW's biggest debut of last season (The Flash). The Muppets, paired with ABC's well-reviewed but modestly rated midseason sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, is probably the network's biggest push for fall, but your decision will have to be based on how much you really adore Kermie and his former love, Miss Piggy. That's probably a lot of people's No. 1 pick, but if you're ambivalent about furry puppets, then Fox's hour of 50-something brunette men who can charm the pants off of anyone (Hellooooo there, Rob Lowe and John Stamos) should be right up your alley. At 9 p.m., Ryan Murphy's latest darkly comedic masterpiece, Scream Queens, is going up against The CW's delightful iZombie, ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and NBC's latest offering in Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise, Chicago Med.
Verdict: At 8 p.m., Laugh at the hour of sitcoms that appeals most to you. Then DVR your preferred drama (there are NCIS people and there are Flash people, not so many in-betweeners) and catch up on whichever comedy block you're not watching live via the on demand service of your choice. At 9 p.m., watch Scream Queens live. It's one of (if not the!) best new shows of the fall, and you'll want to be a part of that pop culture conversation. DVR Chicago Med, if that's your thing, and catch iZombie streaming or on demand. If you're not into Chi-Med, let your DVR eat some delicious ramen/brains. If you still liked SHIELD after its shaky season one, chances are you already know how you're going to watch it. The rest of us deleted our season passes a long time ago.
Wednesdays are a mixed bag this fall, with the 9 p.m. hour hosting ABC's seemingly unstoppable Modern Family (and well-received time slot mate black-ish), CBS's scary standby drama, Criminal Minds, Fox's breakout hit, Empire, and NBC's as-good-as-ever Law & Order: SVU.
Verdict: Honestly, this one is going to be a personal choice, though everyone should be watching Empire. That one's your live bet, and you're on your own for your DVR/on demand/streaming choices.
Shonda versus the world! TGIT is back, but so are plenty of new opponents for ABC's Thursday lineup. At 8 p.m., Grey's Anatomy will face off against a Nina Dobrev-less Vampire Diaries, Fox's Bones, NBC's rebooted Heroes Reborn, and, come November and the end of CBS' Thursday Night Football, The Big Bang Theory. At 9 p.m., Scandal goes up against The CW's TVD spinoff The Originals, Fox's Sleepy Hollow, and NBC's The Blacklist. At 10, there's not much of a contest as How to Get Away With Murder is pitted against NBC's new procedural-with-a-twist, The Player.
Verdict: Heroes Reborn might have the edge at 8 in terms of the live conversation, especially since the franchise has been gone from the airwaves for so long, but the first full season of Grey's without McDreamy will be pretty huge, too. Pick one of those, DVR the other, and catch TVD and Bones streaming or on demand. At 9, watch Scandal live, then you're on your own. You might want to catch the premiere of The Player live at 10, but HTGAWM might have the live edge in subsequent weeks.
What do you plan on watching live this fall, and what will you DVR?