By the end of next week we’ll know if I have a future as a network scheduler, or, since I’ve not actually seen any of the new shows up for discussion, as a psychic. Three down, two to go — I’ve boldly (and perhaps foolishly) predicted the schedules for NBC, Fox and ABC, and now it’s time for CBS’ turn in the spotlight. We’ll know next Wednesday if I was right on the money, or way off the mark.
Particularly when compared to the rocky roads of its competitors, CBS has had quite a season, and their success in the Adults 18-49 ratings means, as many others (including Les Moonves) have pointed out, they can no longer be accused of being the old fogey network. The Big Bang Theory is on fire, NCIS is as strong as ever, and they’ve had a relatively small amount of failures (Partners, Made in Jersey, Vegas and Golden Boy). Always the model of stability, the network renewed 19 shows a few weeks ago, taking a lot of the guesswork out of which should would be renewed. And with only two veteran series (CSI: New York and Rules of Engagement) facing early retirement, there are not a lot of holes to fill on the schedule.
What complicates the prognostication efforts, however, are CBS’ well-documented intentions to expand its comedy efforts. They are said to be very pleased with their comedy development, but where will those extra half-hours go? And what kind of ripple effect will it have on the rest of the schedule?
Though conventional wisdom has CBS expanding its Thursday comedy block to two hours, I’m guessing the extra sitcoms will end up on Friday. With the loss of Made in Jersey and CSI: New York (and later Golden Boy and Vegas) from the night, there are two hours to fill leading up to Blue Bloods, and putting a new drama at 8PM feels like a death sentence. Instead, why not start the night with old standby Two and a Half Men, and use it to launch a new multi-camera sitcom — perhaps the Untitled Greg Garcia project? That could lead in to a relocated The Good Wife, whose loyal audience (including me!) will find it wherever it goes, and which would surely benefit from lower ratings expectations than what it experiences on Sunday nights.
Following the domino effect theory, I think CBS might then move Person of Interest, which has actually seen year-over-year ratings growth, into the Sunday at 9PM slot. It could provide a strong centerpiece for Sunday evenings, likely take down whatever soapy drama ABC has planned for the slot, and perhaps even help boost The Mentalist‘s numbers at 10PM.
One step further in this theory has the eye network putting new drama Beverly Hills Cop in Persons of Interest‘s former 9PM slot on Thursday’s. With Eddie Murphy on board it’s bound to have comic elements, and that spot seems like a great showcase for one of the network’s flashiest new shows. Having an evening that starts with the number one show on television (Big Bang Theory), followed by a new comedy (I’m guessing Friends with Better Lives starring James van der Beek and Kevin Connolly), leading into Beverly Hills Cop and finishing with solid (if unspectacular) player Elementary seems like a smart move. Alternatively, maybe Elementary moves to Sunday nights, and Person of Interest closes out Thursday nights. Either way, I think Beverly Hills Cop winds up at 9.
[End of domino theory.]
The easiest call to make is where new comedy Mom, from creator Chuck Lorre and starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney will go — it was tailor made for the 8:30PM slot on Monday’s. Much more difficult is figuring what other new drama CBS will order and likely schedule at 10PM on Tuesdays. The safe choice would obviously be NCIS: Red, but that is so boring I can’t even bring myself to predict it. Backstrom, with The Office star Rainn Wilson, is a possibility, as is Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberger in Intelligence, Jason Isaacs in Surgeon General and Charlie Cox, Hope Davis, Audra McDonald and Jorge Garcia in The Ordained. Though I’d personally choose The Ordained based on the cast, or Surgeon General based on the fact that there is such a scarcity of medical dramas on the air, I’m guessing it will end up being Intelligence. They may not be the old fogey network anymore, but they still make some pretty damn safe choices.
So there it is…my thoughts on CBS’ fall schedule. Of course, the problem with a domino theory is that if you make one wrong move the whole thing falls apart. I guess we’ll see where the dominoes fall next Wednesday!
8:00-8:30 How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9:00 Mom (New Comedy)
9:00-9:30 Two Broke Girls
9:30-10:00 Mike and Molly
10:00-11:00 Hawaii Five-O
9:00-10:00 NCIS Los Angeles
9:00-10:00 Criminal Minds
8:00-8:30 Big Bang Theory
8:30-9:00 Friends with Better Lives (New comedy)
9:00-10:00 Beverly Hills Cop (New drama)
8:00-8:30 Two and a Half Men
8:30-9:00 Untitled Greg Garcia (New comedy)
9:00-10:00 The Good Wife
10:00-11:00 Blue Bloods
8:00-9:00 The Amazing Race
9:00-10:00 Person of Interest
10:00-11:00 The Mentalist