HDTV Heads-Up: The Simpsons vs Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family vs The Middle

Sunday nights are in for a shake-up on TV One and TV2, with the latter this weekend rolling out new episodes of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory to challenge TV3’s 7pm-8pm HD double-bill of The Simpsons.

And at 8pm, TV2 will launch the acclaimed family comedy, The Middle, starring Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Neil Flynn (Scrubs) opposite TV3’s critically adored HD sitcom, Modern Family.

Meanwhile, over on TV One, Damages is being dumped after Sunday’s instalment for new HD episodes of Cold Case (the detective drama resumes from episode 11 of season seven).

You can’t blame TV One for axing Damages given its abysmal ratings but fans loyal to the outstanding Glenn Close legal thriller deserve better than to have to wait months for its serialised storyline to continue.

Instead of shunting it off to a late-night slot, TV One is going “to rest the series and bring it back for viewers at an appropriate time later this year”.

It’s that kind of disregard for viewers that damages a network’s credibility and reputation.

Likewise, why go sitcom-on-sitcom with the week’s most popular comedies when you’re already enjoying the best ratings of any network this season?

Previously, TV2 has been winning the 7.30pm Sunday hour with reality content, although The Simpsons and Modern Family have made gains over the season, particularly in TV2’s target demo of 18-39 year-olds.

With their lead-in being the ratings juggernaut Two and a Half Men, in its unprecedented, third weekly slot, The Big Bang Theory and The Middle should reverse this trend – but at the expense of viewers who love smart comedies.

It’s a strategy that has rewarded TV2 on Tuesdays, where replacing movies with female-skewed HD drama Grey’s Anatomy and SD stablemate Private Practice have hammered TV3’s HD duo House and The Good Wife.

TV3, meanwhile, is switching its HD reality staple, Survivor, back to 7.30pm Thursdays with a double-episode from May 13, to replace the low-rating re-runs of Wipeout, and thereafter will air 8.30pm Thursday movies to try to improve viewership opposite TV2’s local HD hit, Go Girls, which, after a slow start, has got its second wind and has just been renewed for a third season.

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