It’s 4 weeks to the upfronts and this is the week I have been offering my assessments of the big 4 the last 2 years, and guessing how they might shake up their schedules. Here’s my yearly disclaimer: I will get lots of this wrong. The only people who really know how things will go down for sure are those select few in the screening rooms and at the scheduling board (as it should be). Plus, things that sound like sure shots on paper sometimes look less impressive as a full pilot and vice versa. But, I will attempt to look at the strengths of each network, big moves each network should make and likely candidates for pickup.
First up is CBS. Interestingly enough, I actually wrote about how CBS fall might look back in January. I have some newer thoughts. One thing I wouldn’t change and I have been suggesting for the better part of 2 years is that CBS should expand their Thu lineup to 4 comedies. It’s certainly possible, once again, that they don’t do it. There are a few reasons, however, why I think they finally will:
1) The Big Bang Theory is one of the rare monsters of TV. It gets gargantuan ratings. Even with Daylight Savings hurting 8p shows, it got a 5.2 its last original. (This past Thu it got a 3.0 for a rerun. That is a higher number than what a new episode of every comedy on the other 3 networks get except for Modern Family. Astounding.) The only thing on broadcast that has recently come close is The Voice, but there is no scripted approaching that. After 3 days of DVR viewing, it’s regularly garnering 20 million viewers. It will most likely do even better at 9p and have a halo affect on their entire Thu lineup.
2)Despite that aforementioned mega 5.2 from a few weeks ago, the same night, ABC beat them in the demo from 9-11. 9 year old Greys beat Person of Interest by .1 same day (and way more when DVR is factored in) and Scandal beat Elementary by .5. I am sure CBS will want to try to better that. If they move TBBT to 9p they will own that hour and while 8p will likely be less than it currently is, it still should be enough to win. Their 10p drama could get a bigger boost as well with a much stronger 9p. Hence a bigger, more dominant Thu, overall.
3) Most importantly,How I Met Your Mother is ending next year and 2 Broke Girls is not the mega hit it looked like it was early last year, so I think CBS will try to launch a number of new comedies behind its established hits now in hopes of replenishing. I’m sure they don’t want to lose their Mon comedy block, so more new comedies gives them more shots at finding a new Monday anchor for the following season.
I think Two and Half Men will be the Thu 8p lead and TBBT will be 9p and that CBS will likely launch 3 new sitcoms in the fall with 2 of them in the : 30 slots on Thu. Why do I think Thu (as opposed to Mon) will get 2 new sitcoms? Quite simply because TBBT is so huge a new show leading into it and leading out probably have the best shot at being sampled. Plus it’s so strong, it’s not likely to get hurt if one of the new sitcoms crash (unlike Mon).
By all accounts CBS is happy with their crop of sitcoms in development this year (unlike last). They have more single cams in development than ever before and while we’ve heard they were definitely gonna pick one up last year, they ultimately didn’t. I think this year they finally might, but I wonder if they might pick up 2 and pair them together at midseason once they see where their holes are. Unless Crazy Ones is terrible (not likely) the star power of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar makes me think it will get a pick up. But remember, this is still CBS and their last single cam, Worst Week, didn’t even make it a full season despite the best slot on their schedule for a comedy. My gut says they will go with 3 multi cams in the fall, possibly launching 2 single cams (or 1) at midseason.
The obvious show making the cut is Chuck Lorre’s Mom. I am going to assume it will get the post TBBT 9:30 slot on Thu. I am also going to guess CBS puts something really strong Mon at 8:30 in between HIMYM and 2BG in hopes it is Monday’s 8p show next season. Friends with Better Lives seems to be the best fit in that it’s about young people, in various stages of life and coupledom, like HIMYM. It has James Van Der Beek coming off a very funny turn in Don’t Trust The B. But ultimately, if it’s not good, it won’t make the cut just because it fits. CBS needs new comedy hits and they’ll go with the best shows with the most potential to break out. I think Thu at 8:30 could possibly go to the Greg Garcia project that has attracted Will Arnett and Margo Martindale. Greg’s past 2 shows have been critical favorites and returning to the multi cam format he last did on CBS with Yes, Dear might give him a bona fide hit as well. It’s also possible that something like Super Clyde which sounds unique and different is so good that even despite it being a single cam, CBS will pair it with TBBT or put it Mon at 8:30. I guess I just think CBS is still somewhat gun shy with single cams and will schedule them more safely, but I could definitely be wrong. I think CBS might pick up another multi cam for midseason and a strong possibility might be the Tad Quill Project that has attracted huge names like Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth.
In terms of dramas, CBS seems to have one of the more interesting crops of dramas. 3 stand out immediately and I could see 2 of them being on in the fall.
Beverly Hills Cop – it’s a pre sold title with a great cast and Eddie Murphy! coming to TV and reprising his movie role on a recurring basis. It’s also from one of TVs most creative and best showrunners currently, Shawn Ryan. It’s a unique show for CBS in that while having a case of the week, it will clearly have more elements of comedy than most CBS procedurals. That could be a big hook.
Intelligence – I think the casting of Josh Holloway in the lead was the casting coup of the season. This guy should be a mega star and since LOST you know that every network has been trying to sign him up. He’s a leading man who will get both men and women turning in. It has a great cast including the return of Marg Helgenberger to CBS. It was written by feature writer Michael Seitzman, and directed by David Semel. It has a unique premise (that sounds a bit like Chuck, but I don’t expect it to resemble that show, especially in tone). It sounds a bit more action adventure than your typical CBS drama
Backstrom – Based on a series of books, but I think Hart Hanson is the major reason why this show gets extra attention from CBS. No doubt having the man who created a 9 year running procedural on FOX adds some extra cachet. Rainn Wilson’s casting as a lead probably also makes it more intriguing for some.
Then there’s NCIS: Red the 2nd spinoff from the mega drama hit. There’s some talk that longtime fans didn’t love the 2 part backdoor pilot, but lots of those undergo revisions by the time they hit the air as a fully formed show. Having another show with NCIS in the title makes me think it’s the surest of locks. The question is, do they lead with it in fall or midseason. They held the Criminal Minds spinoff for midseason but that show while big, isn’t NCIS big. I guess it comes down to how much CBS loves their drama development. I waver on this, but at the moment I am definitely assuming CBS puts it on the fall sked, especially if they plan to shake up Thu. It gives them a show that requires less promotion.
(CBS has some interesting sounding dramas with great actors like Jason Isaacs in The Surgeon General and Toni Collette is Jerry Bruckeimer’s Hostages and it’s quite possible those are among the CBS drama pickups. I just went with my gut here, but it’s more than possible these 2 or others get the nod from CBS).
So how do they all get scheduled? Back in January I pegged Beverly Hills Cop as a 10p Monday show with their Monday comedies, but the more I think about it, I wonder if CBS schedules it on Sunday. I didn’t think CBS would schedule any new shows on Sunday because of NFL overruns, But I wonder if the lack of a strong 9p drama currently on broadcast and with that huge NFL lead until almost 8p on the East Coast some weeks, makes CBS give it a whirl. BHC will likely draw in many males and there’s no better promo showcase then the NFL for that. Plus on the west coast it will start on time. I could see a CBS Sunday lineup of: 60 Minutes- The Amazing Race- Beverly Hills Cop – Hawaii 5-0. A high octane, male skewing lineup that meshes perfectly with the NFL.
As I said in Jan, I would have thought CBS had finally found their perfect Tue 10p show in Person Of Interest. One of the Thu dramas will have to move to another night as a result of 4 comedies on Thu. PoI would be a perfect match with the NCIS twins, but the spinoff makes that tough, so I am going to suggest CBS move it to Mon. After 7 days of DVR, both Elementary and PoI are very close in ratings and my guess is CBS leaves the newer Elementary on Thu which I’m sure they would hope gets a boost with TBBT at 9. So right now that has me thinking Person Of Interest goes to Monday at 10p. Sp Monday could possibly look like this: HIMYM/Friends With Better Lives/2BG/Mike and Molly/PoI – The 8:30 comedy whatever it is, should be one of their best, if, not their best new comedy.
UPDATE: 5/6/2012 Starting to think that 2 Broke Girls should follow HIMYM and the strongest new comedy should be their Monday 9p anchor. 2BG has fallen ratings wise and many weeks is behind HIMYM. The 8p show that’s leaving in May shouldn’t be their biggest hit of the night. Airing 2BG is 8:30 could protect it and possibly strengthen so it can serve in one of the Mon anchor positions better for the ’14-’15 season.
With changes to Sun, Mon and Thu I’m going to guess CBS tries to keep the other nights as steady as possible. So I’ll guess Tue might look like this: NCIS/NCIS:Red/NCIS:LA. If CBS feels a little iffy about Red I could see them just putting it at 10.
If they do hold off the NCIS spinoff, I think they might use the NCIS lead to lead into Intelligence followed by NCIS:LA at 10. I guess it all depends on how it comes out. If they love it and it feels like a hit, there’s no better way to launch that show which should pair well with NCIS. (One could make the argument that Tue 9p would be a great place for Beverly Hills Cop, too).
With all the changes I am proposing, I am going to assume CBS launches the NCIS spinoff in fall and launches Intelligence (or another new drama) at midseason, But I waver hourly. More complicated dramas need more time to find themselves. Midseason would afford them that. An NCIS spinoff already has a head start and there is a template in place.
I don’t think CBS will or should touch Wed at all. The 9-11 showsare beyond solid. 13 year old CSI wins at 10. Criminal Minds gets a 3.0 and lately. a big 1.5 DVR boost some weeks. I thought maybe they would just use one version of Survivor in midseason and move the other one to summer next year, but with all the changes, I think they start off with it in the fall. It still got a 2.6 last week, not far off from Idol. It’s incredibly resilient, but if it trends down lower in the fall and CBS has developed some new hits, I could see them moving the spring version to summer and trying something new midseason Wed at 8p. For the fall I am going to assume its there and Wed looks exactly as it does now.
Thu could look like this: Two and Half Men/Untitled Greg Garcia/TBBT/Mom/Elementary
I think CBS will finally stop trying to launch new shows on Fri and I don’t think they need to. With Undercover Boss and Blue Bloods doing well, 2 thirds of the night are solid. I think either The Good Wife or The Mentalist migrates to Friday with the other held for midseason. I don’t know how CBS will schedule The Good Wife. I recently proposed a new way of scheduling it. But it’s a prestige drama for them and maybe they want it on in fall. If it does move to Fri I could see them moving Blue Bloods to 9p and airing it at 10p. It’s also possible that they hold The Mentalist for midseason and that’s the kind of show that could run originals straight into summer. (Though the same could be said for The Good Wife). It could go either way (Or you know, CBS could also leave one or both on Sun).
For right now I am going to guess that Friday will look like this: Undercover Boss/The Mentalist/Blue Bloods
This schedule would leave 2 new dramas for midseason. My on paper picks are Intelligence and Backstrom. On this fantasy sked that could also possibly leave Crazy Ones/Super Clyde and Untitled Tad Quill for midseason as well. (Single camera, family comedy, The McCarthys, starring recent Oscar nom Jacki Weaver, also sounds like a potential CBS show.)
For all I know, CBS won’t make Thu a 4 comedy night (and therefore won’t pick up 4-6 new ones) and won’t schedule a new drama on Sun. But I think a schedule like this makes them aggressive (some would say too aggressive), gives them opportunity to launch potential new hits but it also keeps them pretty stable as well, with the major hits and tentoples of each night in place. Look at each night, the only big move is TBBT to 9p which is hardly a big leap and one that could potentially make it and their Thu night even bigger.