Guessing the Upfronts: CBS

Since I posted my FOX Upfront guesses yesterday guessing-the-upfronts-first-up-fox, Deadline.com has unleashed their first of many pre upfront stories. This is where they say what’s hot vs. what’s not regarding the new pilots.  These things change all the time until upfronts and obviously Nellie Andreava gets intel from network and studio insiders, but as we have learned all these years, things that are a lock a week before the upfronts get passed over when it counts and vice versa. It’s 4 weeks away and WAY EARLY. Plus as head of scheduling Kelly Kahl from CBS tweeted today: “pilot “what’s hot, what’s not” reports at this point aren’t worth the electronic ink they’re written in” .

So I’m just going to continue making what I deem “educated” guesses about what the net’s fall lineups might look like. As I said yesterday in my disclaimer, I expect to be very wrong on all of these. I will have not seen pilots. I don’t know the financial needs and concerns of each respective net. I am just a spectator and this is just a fun exercise. There are also various variables that are never reported that make their way to the fall sked. Lots of networks alternative shows aren’t reported beforehand and make the schedule. Examples recently would be CBSs Kid Nation and ABCs Opportunity Knocks. So there are many things I am not, nor should be, privy to, that will make the fall sked. With that said, let’s look at CBS.

Bubble Shows:

Honestly there’s just one in my humble opinion:

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior – could go either way. I honestly don’t know.

Mad Love is dead. Shit My Dad Says has been off since February and that tells me it’s dead even though with its numbers and retention from The Big Bang Theory it would be renewed on any other net.

I actually think CSI:NY is coming back, even in a truncated version. CSI:MIAMI’s numbers these last few weeks make it renewal worthy. I could see CBS doing 13 eps of each of these to air on Fridays OR  I could even see them airing back to back on Fridays. I know Gary Sinise’s contract is up but the CSI franchise is still durable and reruns well. Of course this is CBS where numbers that would get a show renewed on another net, don’t get them renewed here, but I still see one more season for all the CSI’s.

Early reports have CBS renewing The Good Wife for two seasons and that makes sense. I just don’t see it on Tuesday at 10p again. But I also don’t see CBS shipping it off to Friday like many assume. It’s still getting over 10 million in total viewers even when its lead in is in reruns. It’s a 2.0 show at 10p regardless of lead in. Plus it’s CBSs most buzzworthy show and network TV’s most acclaimed drama and Emmy nominee/winner. It does get lower demo scores than most CBS procedurals and therefore I could see CBS doing a couple of things with it:

1)  Save it for January  and run it somewhere uninterrupted.  This show does not benefit from breaks and will likely do better in consecutive chucks. It’s a different show than regular CBS fare. But it’s worth remembering that 24 really took off in season 4 when it began running uninterrupted in January. With 10p levels down everywhere, a 2.0 at 10p is still impressive, especially for a very untraditional CBS show.

2) If they don’t hold it until Jan, I could see them possibly moving it to Sunday at 10p after their successful reality combo of The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss.

How I think the Schedule could Shake out:

Sunday:

If CBS doesn’t move The Good Wife to Sunday at 10p, I could see CBS trying a new drama here like the The Doctor. David Nutter directed it, so if it doesn’t get picked up it will be his first pilot ever not to get picked up. Plus it’s a family drama as well and it stars Christine Lahti, Scott Foley and Kyle McLachlan. Sounds like a cross between Grey’s and Brothers & Sisters, two shows that have aired for the last 7 years on Sunday at 10p.

Monday:

CBS is usually the most stable net, but the status of Two And A Half Men has thrown everything in the air. This is the first season in a while I can see CBS making major modifications to every night of the week.

If not for the Charlie Sheen situation I would have expected CBS to expand their comedy lineup on Thurs and move The Big Bang Theory to 9p. Now there’s a big question mark on both Mon and Thu. Do they move TBBT to Monday at 9p (a TBBT rerun airs next Mon at 9p, possibly a tryout?)

I am gonna guess CBS will  pick up at least 3 new comedies and focus on family comedies. I think likely pickups include the untitled Rob Schneider family comedy, Home Team, the Rob Riggle family comedy (they have been trying to make Rob Riggle a star for a few years by signing him to many deals) and The Damon Wayans/Colin Cowherd family comedy. I could also see CBS picking up Vince Uncensored, the Pheof Sutton written/Michael Chiklis starring, family comedy and the Heather Locklear fronted The Assistants for midseason, maybe. But HOW will CBS schedule them?

Mike and Molly will be renewed as it builds of its 2.5 Men rerun lead in, but it’s not ready to anchor at 9p. Do they move How I Met Your Mother to 9p OR do they move back The Big Bang Theory. What do they do with Two and A Half Men., I assume they will cast someone new and continue but do they move the show out of the anchor slot with out its lead? My thoughts could very well change before upfronts but here’s what I am going with for now:

8p- Mike & Molly

8:30 – New sitcom – possibly Rob Schneider and his new Latin Family with great cast including, Ugly Betty’s Tony Plana, My Name Is Earl’s Nadine Velasquez and the wonderful Lupe Ontiveros

9p Two and A Half Men – with new cast member. Whatever happens, the show will get tune in just to see how the show addresses the change, whatever it is. The rest of the cast is quite solid anyway. Jon Cryer is the Emmy winner on this show and the show was so strong, even a diminished 2.5 Men will still be strong. (Remember how we all thought IDOL would be majorly down this year without Simon Cowell)

9:30 How I Met Your Mother –  this is just an insurance policy for CBS to keep this entire hour strong. A hit at 9:30 will make sure that H-50 holds or grows its season 1 numbers

10:00 Hawaii 5-0

If the Charlie Sheen thing hadn’t happened I might have suggested HIMYM to Thu at 8p and TBBT to Thu at 9p with new comedies Monday and Thursday 8:30 and 9:30 but considering the situation this could be a strong second option.

Tuesday

NCIS:LA has proven its worth and could even anchor another night. NCIS is CBS most valuable show and I think CBS will use it this year to launch another drama. Last night a rerun of NCIS:LA got a 2.1 at 10p, roughly the same score as The Good Wife gets in originals. I am gonna guess CBS slides it down an hour and launches a new drama in the middle of an NCIS sandwich. I am guessing the choices could be the Robert Deniro produced Rookies or The JJ Abrams produced Person of Interest starring Michael Emerson and Taraji P Henson. At this point I’ll give the edge to JJ,

Wednesday

Survivor and Criminal Minds have proven to be a great combo. Survivor has yet to go under a 3.0. Amazing for a 10-year-old reality show that airs against American Idol. You can’t do better than that. I say CBS solidifies the night by moving the original CSI to Wed at 10p. The show still gets in the 3.0 area Thu at 9p during a very competitive hour. CSI  is also 10 years old and still does incredibly well. Moving it to 10p, like moving NCIS:LA to 10p makes strong nights even stronger. It will undoubtedly do better than the CM spin-off or The Defenders. Plus outside of Sunday, I don’t see CBS using 10p to launch a new show.

Thursday

Does CBS move The Big Bang Theory to 9p where there are higher viewing levels and it won’t likely face The X Factor (assuming it follows the IDOL pattern). I honestly don’t know. Some might say CBS should move The Mentalist to 9p. After all it gets a 3.0 at 10p, a much less viewed hour. But 9p is very competitive so I will assume CBS keeps TM at 10p and thus continues their streak of strong 10p dramas. That would leave 8:30 and 9p open for their strongest comedy and drama pilots. Maybe the other strong CBS family comedy goes here.  My guess for the sitcom: The Michael Patrick King produced, Whitney Cummings Penned Two Broke Girls. On paper Ringer has an incredible pedigree behind the camera and is the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to TV. It is one of the most acclaimed pilot scripts. But it’s also very non-CBS. It’s serialized. Even The Good Wife, which is a little left of CBS, is not performing like all their crime procedurals. Does CBS roll the dice or do they put a more straight ahead show like Rookies here. If not Ringer, I could see CBS going with much buzzed about, untitled Susannah Grant medical/supernatural pilot. Just playing devils advocate, there is no multi camera show Thu at 9p and The Big Bang Theory would probably be #1 if it wasn’t opposite X Factor. I could see CBS moving TBBT to 9p, new comedy, and The Mentalist which gives CBS a strong 9-11p. What would they do at 8p? New reality show, HIMYM and new comedy? I don’t know. My gut says new drama at 9p but that could be very risky. To be revisited.

Friday

Blue Bloods should remain at 10. Some version of CSI – either NY or MIAMI or both sharing a slot should remain at 9 or do they do Miami at 8, NY at 9, into Blue Bloods? OR is this where The Criminal Minds Spinoff airs at 10 after CSI:something at 8 and Blue Bloods at 9? CBS is the last network that still regularly programs scripted on Fri (Although FOX has Fringe) but I don’t see them launching a new show here. The Defenders and Chaos both flopped and Friday is just too difficult to launch a new show. There is less and less live audience there. I am gonna guess CBS doesn’t try.

So there you have it. I assume I will revise this as it gets closer but for now my guesses are that CBS pick ups 3-4 family comedies  and maybe Two Broke Girls,  4-5 dramas including the Minnie Driver starrer Hail Mary. Some for fall, some for midseason.

UPDATE 4/27/11 – Be sure to check out Wesley Ambrecht’s excellent take on CBS here. http://tvmusingsandthoughts.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/armchair-scheduling-cbs-fall-2011/ Thanks to Wesley,  because he reminded me I completely and accidentally forgot about Rules of Engagement. That will be renewed. I could see CBS using it as a midseason replacement or somewhere on their Monday lineup.

Next Up: ABC

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