Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CBS' Fall 2011 Schedule

The last of the major four broadcasters, CBS holds its upfronts today. (Tomorrow,  the CW which CBS co-owns will wrap things up, although it's much smaller and hold less punch than the incomparable other four networks.) CBS holds the highest rank amongst total viewers of the four, but there is a key tradeoff. Their 18-49 ratings are more second-best, behind the FOX network.

In my life, this is fairly evident. While I do enjoy a few of the sitcoms they offer, specifically The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, it's my father who really patronizes the network. He used to watch JAG back in the day, and thusly can say that he liked NCIS before it was cool to like NCIS. On top of that, there's also the key successful freshman drama from this network, the new version of Hawaii Five-0. That's in addition to my mother, who watches The Good Wife as well as NCIS. And there's Blue Bloods as well, and it doesn't take me too much exposure to it to realize the dignity it has for the cops it portrays. As far as younger viewers goes...did I mention NCIS? Because that's CBS' key hit drama, particularly with the 18-49 crowd.

But yeah, the Tiffany network's still quite thriving. Come midseason, you can expect to see the next season of Undercover Boss as well as new drama The 2-2, from executive producer Robert DeNiro.

As far as the fall goes, CBS has its bases loaded with plenty of new shows. Before we start, I think you may notice a pattern with some of these shows. If you watch CBS, you would know why they tend to skew older in viewership. These shows have a pretty clear traditionalist bent, the network in a clear comfort zone that sticks to procedural dramas and multi-camera comedies. They don't really tend to seek out bigger risks among shows, and don't seem to have tried it this season in contrast to the other networks. Perhaps the boldest drama they have is The Good Wife, which does have a legal procedural bent to it as well. At the same time though, it's not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of these more old-fashioned shows are very successful. Two and a Half Men is TV's biggest comedy and I've already spoken for NCIS. And besides, where is it written that standard, comfort-zone shows necessarily had to be bad?

With that said, here we go with the lineup, and commentary on each night. No first impression here either, but that might change if CBS has clips to offer.

8/7c - How I Met Your Mother (Comedy; 7th Season)
8:30/7:30c - 2 BROKE GIRLS (New Comedy; Two waitresses come together under the impression of a potential business partnership)
9/8c - Two and a Half Men (Comedy; 9th Season)
9:30/8:30c - Mike & Molly (Comedy; 2nd Season)
10/9c - Hawaii Five-0 (Drama; 2nd Season)

There's not much to note on this lineup, just the two details that reflect any change. First, you have the new show 2 Broke Girls, and it only figures that it's going to follow How I Met Your Mother while Mike & Molly proves successful under Chuck Lorre's branding and Melissa McCarthy's comedic charm. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about this new comedy, especially since CBS is the only network that still makes the traditional three-camera on a soundstage format work for them (and perhaps that's what's inspiring it's competition to try it). I'll certainly take a look at the trailer, and note the presence of two producers. For one, you've got Sex and the City's Michael Patrick King, and the other producer is Whitney Cummings, also headlining her own NBC show. The other thing of note is Two and a Half Men, and you can't be TV top comedy and have your lead explode out of his job without notice. It just doesn't work that way. There was some idea that Charlie Sheen would manage to return to work for next season after sidelining the show for the remainer of this season. But that was kind of a fool's hope to be honest, his pyschotic breakdown would have been entertaining for a few seconds, but it quickly just got disturbing and sad. Anyway, it's no surprise to see CBS is bringing his show back without him, Ashton Kutcher taking the reins as the lead. That call actually makes perfect sense, who better to replace an actor who fell into a pit of absurd and insane self-promotion than someone who chooses that style purposefully and works it to his own benefit?

8/7c - NCIS (Drama; 9th Season)
9/8c - NCIS: Los Angeles (Drama; 3rd Season)
10/9c - UNFORGETTABLE (New Drama; New procedural drama about a woman with a perfect memory)

CBS has decided to move The Good Wife, a bolder type of procedural show they run off Tuesday nights in an effort to increase viewers from one season to the next. In the mean time, the proven block of NCIS dramas beginning with the megahit series originally spun off of JAG, gets a new procedural to cap off the night. The premise does sound like it would add plenty to the formula that CBS has crafted to its own art, but not really raise the stakes.

8/7c - Survivor (Reality; 12th Year)
9/8c - Criminal Minds (Drama; 7th Season)
10/9c - CSI (Drama; 12th Season; New Night)

On this night, the biggest change this season is the relocation of the network's longest-running drama from it's long-time stead of Thursdays. Mind you, this show has since been dethroned by NCIS as TV's biggest scripted drama. This will either rejuvinate the show to fighting form, or end up serving as it's swan song. Or it could, you know keep it going at a good, steady pace as was proven last season by some of its spinoffs having been shuffled.

8/7c - The Big Bang Theory (Comedy; 5th Season)
8:30/7:30c - HOW TO BE A GENTLEMEN (New Comedy; The lives of an uptight columnist and a crude personal trainer clash)
9/8c - PERSON OF INTEREST (New Drama; Procedural with Jim Caviezel as a former CIA agent teaming up with a benefactor to solve crimes)
10/9c - The Mentalist (Drama; 4th Season)

Here we have not one new show, but two. The sitcom with high expectations leading out of Chuck Lorre's massively successful nerd-culture comedy offers a standard buddy-style humor wherein opposites attract. Replacing CSI on Thursdays is a show that might be similar, but the trailer will clear any suspicious about that up. Otherwise, both the shows staying on the lineup have proven successful, in particular The Big Bang Theory since it moved there from Mondays last year.

8/7c - A GIFTED MAN (New Drama; A doctor has a life-changing experience when he seems to have heard from his wife from beyond the grave)
9/8c - CSI: NY (Drama; 8th Season)
10/9c - Blue Bloods (Drama; 2nd Season)

True to their traditionalist nature, CBS actually sticks to what may be the biggest risk they take -- programming Friday nights with scripted shows. Of course, the block is quite different from where it was two years ago, when it picked by Medium from NBC to go with their own spiritual-communication show Ghost Whisperer. In addition to that, they had another procedural, NUMB3RS with Rob Morrow, David Krumholtz (now on NBC's The Playboy Club) and Judd Hirsch. Of course, these were easier-going shows, trying to appeal to to people who stay home on Fridays, and the current crop of dramas does the same. In the case of CSI: NY, though we get more than one season of a show that's since cooled off in popularity and has settled down to some degree of success on Fridays. Same goes for Blue Bloods, and it's lucky and well-deserving of renewal, even if it's earning it based on relative success on Fridays. There's also the new drama, A Gifted Man. It sounds like a medical procedural from the full description in CBS' press release of this schedule, and it can come off like the short-lived ABC series Eli Stone as equally as it would evoke memories of Medium and Ghost Whisperer.

8/7c - Rules of Engagement (Comedy; 6th Season; New Night)
8:30/7:30c - Comedy Encores
9/8c - Dramatic Encores
10/9c - 48 Hours Mystery (Newsmagazine)

And on the least-watched night of the week, CBS actually blends encore presentations with one original program -- newsmagazine 48 Hours Mystery. Not much to report on here...whoa. WHAT?! Rules of Engagement? That's where it went with its renewal? Is this a fate worse than death for this show, to put it on this far out of the way while still renewing it? Don't get me wrong, I don't care about this show. But it seems pretty extreme. And I thought that FOX cancelling America's Most Wanted was surprising. Jeez.

7/6c - 60 Minutes (Newsmagazine)
8/7c - The Amazing Race (Reality; 11th Year)
9/8c - The Good Wife (Drama; 3rd Season; New Night)
10/9c - CSI: Miami (Drama; 10th Season)

And here's where The Good Wife went. As I reach the last night of the week, it occurs to me that CBS is now confident in shaking up it's status quo in the occasional reorganization of it's dramatic scheduling. (It works for comedy too, as The Big Bang Theory has proven.) Considering that CSI: Miami isn't as hot as it used to be, moving it off of Mondays to make way for Hawaii Five-0 hasn't hurt it that much. In the case of The Good Wife though, CBS is trying to grow the audience for its biggest critical darling, earning such in it's ambition whilst their ratings try to get by.

And in addition to these renewals, the cancelled show are $#*! My Dad Says, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, The Defenders, Mad Love, and Medium. The lattermost is the only show that wasn't a freshman on CBS.

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