For about the last decade, Fridays have been TV's traditional dumping ground for new programs that networks don't hold in too high esteem. (Saturdays have been pure dead zones, however.)
The philosophy has been that since people go out on the weekends, why burn off episodes of expensive shows when no one is home to see them?
Two things, however, have apparently changed that philosophy somewhat. 1) In this economy, who has money to go out that often? and 2) Since DVR/VCR recordings now count in the Nielsen ratings, it doesn't matter if people watch the show live or record it.
Suddenly, Fridays are being populated by programs that have big-time actors or decent followings.
To wit, three of TV's most recognizable actors -- Tom Selleck, Dana Delany and Jimmy Smits -- have their new series running on Fridays. The CW is airing its arguably two most popular shows on Fridays with "Smallville" and "Supernatural."
Fox is moving two shows that the network still hopes may catch on with "Human Target" and "The Good Guys" to Fridays, where ratings expectations are lower. Ditto CBS with "CSI: NY," which kicks off tonight at 9 p.m.
Of the three new series airing on Fridays, two of them are actually pretty decent. "Blue Bloods" (CBS, 10 p.m.) kicks off tonight, with Selleck leading a strong cast including Len Cariou, Bridget Moynihan and Donnie Wahlberg as a multi-generational family of cops in NYC. Cariou and Wahlberg favor the old-style police methods in which it was OK to bloody some noses if it produced results. Moynihan, an assistant DA, still believes in the law, while Selleck, as police commissioner, tries to walk a very narrow line between the two.
Stylistically, it comes closest to "The Good Wife," though it's not at that caliber. But it's a very solid hour.
So is "Body of Proof," which hasn't set its air date yet, but it will be on Fridays in the near future. Delany plays a medical examiner much in the vein of "House" -- she's a lot smarter than everyone else, and she also lacks the people skills necessary to stop reminding them of that. It's got a very solid surrounding cast as well.
Smits' new show, "Outlaw" (NBC, 10 p.m.) kicked off last week and is arguably among the season's worst new shows with hammy acting and a ridiculous premise.
Still, there's enough other good stuff from the new shows and the returning ones to make Fridays worth staying home for.
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Pa Kent and Lex Luthor -- sort of -- return to "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) for its 10th and final season premiere. As always, Erica Durance's Lois Lane steals most of the scenes she's in. It's followed by the premiere of TV's most underrated show, "Supernatural."
On Sunday, "The Amazing Race" (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) kicks off its latest season. OK, I'll just point this out now -- there's been, what, 83 editions of the Race? Why can't the contestants at this point learn that at some point during the contest, they're going to have to drive a stick-shift and they're going to have to know how to swim? Yet there's always a team or two that can't do this, even though they know its coming. Anyway, the teams head off to jolly olde England for the first round. My early favorites include two Ivy League geeks and the girl volleyball players. Because they are really, really hot. It's followed by "Undercover Boss" at 10 p.m.
Fox kicks off a new season of its animated shows, with cast members of "Glee" showing up on "The Simpsons" (Fox, 8 p.m.), followed by "The Cleveland Show" and a one-hour "Family Guy."
ABC has a new season of "Extreme Home Makeover," followed by "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters."
"Masterpiece: Mystery" has a new "Inspector Lewis" (PBS, 9 p.m.)
On cable, "Dexter" (Showtime, 9 p.m.) kicks off a new season with Dexter (Michael C. Hall) still reeling from the stunning twist that closed last season. The show will be hard-pressed to come up with a new character as amazing as John Lithgow's Trinity.
"Boardwalk Empire" (HBO, 9 p.m.) is an early favorite to be named the best new show of the season and has already been renewed for next year after having the best debut for the next work in the last five years. It's followed by the season premieres of "Bored To Death" and "Eastbound and Down."
Finally, AMC presents new episodes of "Rubicon" and "Mad Men," beginning at 9 p.m.