Wednesday, May 16, 2007
CBS Upfronts: Quick Thoughts
If you're TV's most-watched network, you get to be boring.
That didn't mean that CBS was required to present a boring schedule on Wednesday (May 15) morning, but even with a wacky musical produced by Hugh Jackman, a sitcom based on Kaley Cuoco's breasts and drama about a vampire running a detective agency (an innovative concept in a world in which "Forever Knight" and "Angel" never existed), it mostly looks like business as usual for CBS.
But thank you, CBS, for bringing "How I Met Your Mother" back and thank you for canceling "Jericho," which I probably would have kept at least half-watching as long as it was on.
I'll leave it to the pundits to buzz about the far-reaching implications of the "Shark"/"Without a Trace" swap.
A quick night-by-night review and a glance at the pilots CBS didn't pick up is after the bump, so click on through:
MONDAYS: "How I Met Your Mother," "The Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men," "Rules of Engagement," "CSI: Miami." I haven't seen a single picture from "The Big Bang Theory" that didn't focus exclusively on Kaley Cuoco's cleavage. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Is "HIMYM," as much as I love it, really in any ratings position to serve as a functional lead-in? And boy CBS is probably wishing they could have "King of Queens" back for another few episodes.
TUESDAYS: "NCIS," "The Unit," "Cane." I'm not 100% sure how "Cane" will fit with CBS' testosterone-clogged Tuesday slate, but since I don't have a Tuesday 10 p.m. show of my own, I'll give it a shot. That 10 p.m. slot has been a problem for CBS since the cancellation of "Judging Amy." Otherwise, it's just more of the same.
WEDNESDAYS: "Kid Nation," "Criminal Minds," "CSI: NY." Oooh, the "Jericho" fans won't like this. Cancel their culty drama about plucky Kansans rebuilding after a nuclear attack in exchange for a reality show about plucky kids rebuilding a New Mexico ghost town for 40 days? Ugh. Maybe it'll at least be playful and fun, which is more than you can say for the brooding splatterfests that follow.
THURSDAYS: "Survivor," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Without a Trace." The return of "Without a Trace" will make up for whatever view decline "Survivor" has been experiencing. In addition, it could be enough to totally crush NBC's "E.R."
FRIDAYS: "Ghost Whisperer," "Moonlight," "Numb3rs." Not to nit-pick, but "Close to Home" averaged almost the exact same number of viewers as "Numb3rs" and more viewers than "Ghost Whisperer" and CBS cancels it. This is the kind of thing CBS does -- see "The Guardian" and "Judging Amy." Probably "Moonlight" will prove to be a little more compatible with the "genre" portion of the "Ghost Whisperer" audience, but I would be absolutely astounded if it draws 10.3 million viewers per week, which was what "Close to Home" was doing.
SUNDAYS: "60 Minutes," "Viva Laughlin," "Cold Case," "Shark." I know it's not something TV critics are allowed to say, but I actually didn't like "Viva Blackpool" all that much. I was amused by the premise and entertained for maybe an hour, but -- to use a respected writing professor's favorite phrase -- the game wasn't really worth the candle as far as I was concerned and that was a limited run program in the traditional BBC model. How are they going to stretch it for 13 episodes? Or 22? Or 100? And is the dramatically old-skewing "60 Minutes" audience really the proper lead-in for a show that should, if nothing else, be audacious? Also, the move of "Shark" from Thursday to Sunday would seem to reflect CBS' confidence in ABC's waning Sunday, as if to say "We can boost our Thursday and just put a second-rate procedural on Sunday to hold down the fort."
INTERESTING PILOTS (BASED ON PLOT AND CAST, NOT ANYTHING I'VE SEEN) THAT DIDN'T GET PICKED UP: The obvious miss is "Babylon Fields," a zombie dramedy starring Amber Tamblyn among others. CBS went to the trouble of getting Marisa Tomei for "The Rich Inner Life of Penelope Cloud," Freddie Prize for "Atlanta" and Jay Mohr and Brian Austin Green for some untitled crap from Kohan and Mutchnick, but didn't feel the need to put any of them on air. "Fugly" had a bad title and it was a bad idea, but I liked the idea of Nikki Cox and Marissa Jaret Winokur as twin sisters. Plus, Eric Balfour got himself killed off of "24" to do "Protect and Serve" and then it didn't get picked up. Am I going to have to start a new campaign? Grumble.
And check out our more exhaustive upfronts coverage over at Zap2it.