TV's Battle Royale

Well, were your DVRs working overtime last Thursday night?

Tonight proves you really can have too much of a good thing as both ABC and CBS begin their fall offerings for the night, joining the other networks which kicked off their schedules over the past two weeks.

The one to watch, both in terms of quality and to see how it fares is "FlashForward" (ABC, 8 p.m.) the network's new offering that hopes to draw in the "Lost" crowd.

ABC is banking heavily that this could be its next new sensation as well as a strong leadoff hitter for "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," finally breaking the network's deadlock with CBS, which offers highly rated "Survivor," "CSI" and "The Mentalist."

I reviewed "FF" a couple of weeks ago, giving it very high marks. With the exception of Fox's "Glee," I'd say it's the best new show of the season. Unlike other ABC offerings such as "Daybreak" and "Life On Mars," which tried to create a series with a similar appeal to "Lost," but failed.

"FF" is much better-written, and the pilot is very reminiscent of "Lost's" spectacular debut five years ago. It creates a compelling central mystery told through the eyes of equally interesting characters.

My one gripe is that it may be on the wrong night for a couple of reasons. For one, it doesn't really fit in with the "Grey's"/"Private" audience. ("Eastwick" might have made more sense for the programmers). It's also competing on night in which the fantasy crowd will either be looking at Fox with "Bones"/"Fringe" or CW with "Vampire Diaries"/"Supernatural." While it won't compete with 9 p.m. shows, viewers may keep their TVs set to one channel.

Still, if people show they are willing to stick with the big mystery -- what caused everyone on Earth to black out for two minutes and glimpse their future six months from now -- the payoff could be worth it.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: As noted above, it's an awfully full lineup for TV viewers. "Grey's" (ABC, 9 p.m.) fans are trying to figure out who lived and who died from last season's finale (Hint: check out which stars re-upped their contracts), followed by "Private Practice."

Meanwhile, "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) brings Jorja Fox back to the fold, followed by "The Mentalist" on its new night.

From the shows that debuted earlier, "Bones" and "Fringe" are both new tonight on Fox, while CW offers "Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural."

NBC, meanwhile, returns its comedy lineup. It's new strategy of "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. is not working out, however. It's gone from a huge debut to the lowest rated show each night.

On cable, "It's Always Sunny" (FX, 10 p.m.) delivers back-to-back new episodes, including one in which the gang tries to get Frank to stop drinking while the other has them working in the movie business.