Upfront Roundup: CBS

Before beginning, let’s review what I said in my previous post:

  • The No. 1 network can’t be resting on their laurels, but they have so many laurels it’s a problem. There are so many quality/popular series there’s virtually nothing to cancel. “Jericho” and “Ghost Whisperer” are probably the two weakest dramas; “How I Met Your Mother” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” are probably the weakest shows overall but they have to put up with “DonD” and “DwtS”.
  • “Old Christine” did well when it was at 9:30 and not 8:30. “Mother” and “The Class”, however, struggled with ratings in the 5’s and low 6’s, without “DwtS” to worry about and with NBC seeing only a minor drop-off from “DonD” to “Heroes”. What is causing a significant number of viewers of CBS’ comedy lineup to forgo the first hour?
  • The History of the Tuesday at 10 Time Slot This Season: They try “Smith” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. They try “3 Lbs.” for three weeks. It gets cancelled. Now they’re just throwing up whatever will stick. Time to put up a show you have confidence in.
  • Strong nights: Just about every night. Weak nights: Um… does Saturday count even though they win it when football isn’t on? … Friday was weak for a while… a little help here?
  • Quick tip: One word: Midseason. Tell it to all but your very best new shows.

Now, how did CBS carry that out? (All recaps come from CBS’ Flash-animated schedule page.)


Sun

7pm

7:30 pm

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
60 Minutes
Viva Laughlin
Cold Case
Shark


“The Amazing Race” goes absent to allow “60 Minutes” to back up a new show getting strong buzz:

“Hugh Jackman comes to prime time as executive producer (with a recurring guest role) in VIVA LAUGHLIN. This riveting series is based on the British smash “Viva Blackpool.” Part drama, part thriller, part musical, VIVA LAUGHLIN chronicles the story of Ripley Holden, a man who wrestles personally and professionally to open a casino in the desert city of Laughlin, Nevada. Against all odds, Ripley strives to support his family while pursuing his ultimate goal: the American dream.”

It doesn’t tell me a lot about how it’s executed, but it’s probably not going to be much different than “Las Vegas”, though I don’t mean to say anything about the quality there by any means. Certainly you could do a lot worse than “60 Minutes” for a lead-in, especially with “Cold Case” as a lead-out. Sundays, however, are pretty competitive, and “Viva Laughlin” will have to compete for eyeballs with “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”, football, and “The Simpsons”. But it’s not on an hour later, at least, when “Desperate Housewives” is on. The chances for success are decent.


Mon

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Met/Mother
Big Bng Thry
2 1/2 Men
Rules/Engmt.

CSI Miami


CBS’ comedy lineup keeps chugging along, and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (held for midseason, like “Race”) is the casualty of the new show CBS seeks to groom – in a time slot that has been a problem for the Eye this year:

“Meet two brainiacs with a lot to learn. Leonard and Sheldon know their quarks from their quantum physics, but have no clue how women add up. Leave it to their pretty new neighbor, just off a messy breakup, to teach them a thing or two in THE BIG BANG THEORY.”

Doesn’t tell me a whole lot about the show itself, and it’s going up against “DwtS” and leading out of a show that has struggled this year. It’s a rather quirky premise and has the danger of losing audiences with obscure jokes, but it has some potential. I’ve got a feeling that in the likely scenario this show gets cancelled, it’ll be a big loss. (But then, I’m kind of a nerd myself.)


Tue

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
NCIS
The Unit
Cane


The newest show attempting to challenge “SVU” and “Boston Legal” certainly sounds intriguing:

“Emmy winner Jimmy Smits returns to series television as the newly proclaimed heir to the Duque family sugar cane and rum empire. It’s a steamy and seductive drama about bitter rivals and their dangerous battles for love, lust and wealth. Mix with a twist and you have a potent blend for the season’s most sizzling saga.”

Sounds like “Dallas” or “Dynasty”. For that matter, it’s a hop, skip, and jump away from “Dirty Sexy Money” on ABC the next night. If you predicted that the success of “Ugly Betty” would accelerate the already-starting-with-My-Network trend towards “telenovela-style” shows in prime time, take a gold star. Now, the next question: Is CBS condemning the show by putting it in such a troublesome time slot, or trying to save it? Or both?


Wed

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Kid Nation
Criminal Minds
CSI: NY


CBS seems to be leaving “Kid Nation” out to dry by having it lead off a night:

“Forty children, 40 days, no adults. They’re eager to prove they can build a better world for tomorrow in the new reality series KID NATION. Settling in Bonanza City, New Mexico, once a thriving mining town but now deserted, these kids, ages 8 to 15 and from all walks of life, will build their own new world, pioneer-style. They will confront grown-up issues while coping with the classic childhood emotions of homesickness, peer pressure and the urge to break every rule. Episodes end with a town meeting in which the kids award one child a gold star worth $20,000, all leading to the grand finale, with an unimaginable test, the biggest awards and a special surprise for every child.”

“It’s ‘Survivor’… FOR KIDS!” Actually, this could be a very thought-provoking premise, but thought-provoking isn’t what’s popular, sensational exploitation is. “DonD” and whatever Fox puts on will probably be its biggest competition but it’s something of a gamble for the Eye. Certainly it’s the show I’m probably most tempted to watch, but in terms of its overall popularity…


Thu

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Survivor
CSI
W/o a Trace


“Without a Trace” returns to its rightful time slot at 10 pm on Thursdays.


Fri

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Ghost Whisperer
Moonlight
NUMB3RS


Here’s the rundown on “Moonlight”:

“Mick St. John is a private investigator who has truly seen it all after being bitten by his vampire bride on their wedding night 60 years ago. He now lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead while being in love with a mortal woman. St. John must cautiously balance these two lives before thet clash, proving that life’s gravest dangers are found in the moonlight.”

Groan. Even if it’s good it has the stench of “cult following, unceremoniously cancelled”. It doesn’t help that it’s consigned to Friday either.


Sat

8pm

8:30 pm

9 pm

9:30 pm

10 pm

CBS
Crimetime Saturday
Crimetime Saturday
48 Hrs Myst.


CBS maintains its “Crimetime Saturday” lineup. Their page has no separate midseason section so I have to rely on other articles for that info. So, how did CBS do on the points I laid out?

  • The first hour conundrum. Grade: C. CBS shows it has faith in both shows (even though “Christine” is getting an abbreviated order) but putting “Big Bang Theory” in that problematic hour seems to be killing it. But I don’t know what else CBS could do.
  • Tuesday at 10. Grade: B. “Cane”‘s success in a troublesome time slot all depends on the promotion and the quality.
  • Overall grade: B-. “Jericho”, “Close to Home”, and “The Class” are all canned, but they’re really the only canned shows; “Close to Home” is a bit of a surprise. All things considered, I rather like this lineup, but only one show is truly being supported for greatness, and two other shows could be seen as either trying to save moribund time slots or falling victim to them. That nearly caused me to drop CBS all the way to a C+.
  • Nights that improved: Thursday (“Trace” > “Shark”), Tuesday (hopefully). Nights that went down but probably won’t derail: Sunday (not just “Shark” but “Viva Laughlin”, which could save it after all). Nights that look like a train wreck: Friday, if anything, with one of CBS’ weakest shows staying on the schedule and paired with a show that seems destined to be shortlived no matter how good it is. (And trust me, while it’s certainly capable of earning a cult following, it certainly is no “Buffy”.)

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