In Depth

Debates Delay ‘CSI’s’ Fall Debut

“CSI” won’t begin its ninth season until Oct. 9 — and fans can blame John McCain and Barack Obama for the delay.

The top-rated crime drama will stay off the air until the third week of the 2008-09 television season due to political debates scheduled for Friday, Sept. 26, and Thursday, Oct. 2. The first is a presidential showdown, while the yet-to-be selected vice presidential candidates are expected to square off the following week.

It’s a significant inconvenience for CBS, since “CSI” is the network’s most-watched show, as well as the anchor of its lucrative Thursday night lineup. On the positive side, the delay means there will be fewer in-season repeats of “CSI.”

Overall, CBS is taking a traditional approach to its fall rollout, unveiling the bulk of its programming during the first week of the season, which begins Sept. 22.

The network’s full Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday schedules will kick off during premiere week. Friday newcomer “The Ex List,” along with returning dramas “Ghost Whisperer” and “Numbers,” premiere the second week of the season, on Oct. 3.

As for Thursdays, 8 p.m.: anchor “Survivor” will, as usual, premiere a week early, on Sept. 18. And new Jerry Bruckheimer drama “Eleventh Hour” will round out the CBS premiere slate by debuting Thursday, Oct. 9, at 10, right after “CSI.”

Here’s a night-by-night guide to the CBS rollout:

CBS’ 2008-2009 Premiere Dates

Thursday, Sept. 18
8-9 p.m.: Survivor (17th season premiere)

Monday, Sept. 22
8-8:30 p.m.: The Big Bang Theory (2nd season premiere)
8:30-9 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother (4th season premiere)
9-9:30 p.m.: Two and a Half Men (6th season premiere)
9:30-10 p.m.: Worst Week (series debut)
10-11 p.m.: CSI: Miami (7th season premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 23
8-9 p.m.: NCIS (6th season premiere)
9-10 p.m.: The Mentalist (series debut)
10-11 p.m.: Without a Trace (7th season premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 24
8-8:30 p.m.: The New Adventures of Old Christine (4th season premiere)
8:30-9 p.m.: Project Gary (series debut)
9-10 p.m.: Criminal Minds (4th season premiere)
10-11 p.m.: CSI: NY (5th season premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 27
8-9 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
9-10 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
10-11 p.m.: 48 Hours Mystery (season premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 28
7:00-8 p.m.: 60 Minutes (41st season premiere)
8-9 p.m.: The Amazing Race (13th edition)
9-10 p.m.: Cold Case (6th season premiere)
10-11 p.m.: The Unit (4th season premiere)

Friday, Oct. 3
8-9 p.m.: Ghost Whisperer (4th season premiere)
9-10 p.m.: The Ex List (series premiere)
10-11 p.m.: Numb3rs (5th season premiere)

Thursday, Oct. 9
9-10 p.m.: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (9th season premiere)
10-11 p.m.: Eleventh Hour (series debut)