Network Upfronts by John Keegan

2014 Network Upfronts: CBS

2014 Network Upfronts: CBS

CBS is one of the most dependable of the networks, at least in terms of content. They tend towards procedurals and fairly safe comedies that keep their viewer base nice and happy. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t gems in the mix, just that there’s very little change season to season.


8-8:30PM “Big Bang Theory/2 Broke Girls” (Returning)

This seems like a bit of a risk, considering that everyone remembers Big Bang Theory as a Thursday staple. But I can understand trying to gain on a new night against reality TV. Later in the fall, 2 Broke Girls returns in the slot, which seems to match well with its lead-out.

8-8:30PM “Mom” (Returning)

I don’t remember hearing good things about this one, but I suppose it did well enough to return.

9-10PM “Scorpion” (NEW)

I’m a bit wary of this one, but it has an interesting production pedigree, and it actually seems like a good fit with Big Bang Theory, given that it is essentially “Big Bang Theory meets Person of Interest”. Which means it is a 50/50 proposition to make it past the fall.

10-11PM “NCIS: Los Angeles” (Returning)

The surprising CBS schedule shuffling continues as this portion of the NCIS franchise moves into a traditionally difficult slot. Will this series continue to hit high numbers, without its parental lead-in?


8-9PM “NCIS” (Returning)

This series has become the cornerstone of the night for CBS, and shows no signs of slowing down. Which is probably why they follow it with…

9-10PM “NCIS: New Orleans” (NEW)

The latest addition to the NCIS franchise, led by Scott Bakula, which ought to bring a few eyeballs on his own. This strikes me as the CSI: Miami of the franchise, in terms of the likelihood of edgier, sexier content given the location.

10-11PM “Person of Interest” (Returning)

Person of Interest proved to be the perfect closer for Tuesday nights, even if the ratings have dipped slightly after the move from Thursdays. The quality of storytelling and acting remains ridiculously high, and that third season finale was a whopper of a twist!


8-9PM “Survivor” (Returning)

This is one example of how a calcified schedule isn’t the best of options, because as much as Survivor continues to perform to some degree, it is also long past its expiration date as a pop culture phenomenon.

9-10PM “Criminal Minds” (Returning)

The network’s worst blend of extreme violence and misogyny returns. I have never understood the appeal of this show.

10-11PM “Stalker” (NEW)

Maggie Q follows up her stint on Nikita with this psychological thriller from Kevin Williamson. If anyone remembers the short-lived FOX series The Inside, this sounds a bit like that, only without the super-recognizable ensemble.


8-8:30PM “Big Bang Theory” (Returning)

Once NBC’s Thursday Night Football run is completed, Big Bang Theory will be returning to its regular slot. This could be interesting if non-sportsball fans have already decided to move on to other networks by late October, and don’t feel like changing habits.

8:30-9PM “The Millers” (Returning)

I know nothing about this comedy, but it was apparently one of the highest rated new comedies in the demographics that count.

9-9:30PM “Two and a Half Men” (Returning)

Supposedly the final run. I remain convinced that should have happened years ago.

9:30-10PM “The McCarthys” (NEW)

I was terrified that this would be yet another Jenny McCarthy vehicle. Instead, it’s a fairly conventional-sounding sitcom about a sports-crazed family Boston family. This ought to play well in the NYC metro area.

10-11PM “Elementary” (Returning)

Elementary managed to survive fine without its high-powered former lead-in, so I doubt any uncertainty about The McCarthys will matter much in terms of performance.


8-9PM “The Amazing Race” (Returning)

I’m a bit surprised by this one. Sunday night isn’t the most reliable of timeslots, with the content sports-caused delays and such, but I can’t imagine that this reality TV series is underperforming. Will the audience follow it to Friday nights?

9-10PM “Hawaii Five-O” (Returning)

I could have sworn this show was on life support at one point. Some shows that perform badly for a Monday night are solid performers on Fridays.

10-11PM “Blue Bloods” (Returning)

Another solid Friday performer for CBS. It’s this “if it ain’t broke” type of thinking that makes some of the schedule shuffling so unusual for CBS.


7-8PM “60 Minutes” (Returning)

Probably running 60 minutes behind schedule due to football and/or golf.

8-9PM “Madam Secretary” (NEW)

A “stately” drama starring Tea Leoni as Secretary of State. Think The Good Wife meets The West Wing, I suppose, with hopefully as little injection of Hillary-esque-ness as possible.

9-10PM “The Good Wife” (Returning)

This series was critically revitalized this past season, so it will be interesting to see if it will continue to catch its second wind.

10-11PM “CSI” (Returning)

CBS is banking on the nostalgia of better seasons to keep this afloat in this timeslot long enough for viewers to be comfortable and sample its mid-season follow-up, CSI: Cyber.


“Battle Creek” (Unscheduled Drama)

A Vince Gilligan drama about an FBI field office in Michigan. Sounds simple, but knowing Gilligan, probably full of unexpected character turns.

“The Odd Couple” (Unscheduled Comedy)

Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon try to make this remake of the classic comedy happen. This could easily bomb.

“CSI: Cyber” (Unscheduled Drama)

I’ll be honest: I thought that the cancellation of the previous CSI spinoffs was an indication that this franchise had run its course. But there are a few shows following in the general footsteps of Person of Interest, so why not? That said, faking tech-savvy is not as easy as faking forensics.


The Mentalist, Undercover Boss, and Mike and Molly were all renewed, but aren’t on the schedule. CBS is pushing the fact that they are advancing the year-round strategy, so how many of those shows end up in a spring/summer slot remains to be seen. As does the fate of summer returner Under the Dome, which was a surprisingly strong entry last summer season. The real shock might be the absence of How I Met Your Dad, which a lot of people saw as a given.

Otherwise, CBS renewed so much of its schedule that the cancellations were somewhat obvious based on ratings performance: Hostages, Intelligence, and a smattering of failed comedies. A few were surprised that The Crazy Ones didn’t make it, but I was more shocked that it ran a whole season.


For genre fans, CBS is all about Person of Interest. I’m vaguely intrigued by Scorpion, but Mondays are dominated by already-reliable fare from FOX and Syfy. Fans of the NCIS juggernaut have to be rather pleased by the fall schedule, and Sundays look to be good for fans of shows like The Good Wife.

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Network Upfronts by - 5/16/2014 8:08 AM429 views


5/16/2014 8:34 AM

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I am shocked CBS has shaken up their Monday comedy block. I read somewhere that they've had a 2-hour comedy block on Mondays since 1986 and they haven't run a non-comedy program on CBS at 9PM since the 50's. No pressure, Scorpion!

I was also surprised they dropped How I Met Your Dad but I wonder if it had to do with how poorly the finale of HIMYM was received. Apparently CBS didn't want to drop it out right, but asked for a reshoot of the pilot. The creators were offended and are now shopping it to other networks, which just sounds completely odd.

I didn't realize the Thursday Night football thing was such a limited run. I know having prime-time football is supposed to be a big deal, but is it worth throwing an 8-week monkey wrench in your schedule? Though I'm sure if any show can handle being shifted around, it's Big Bang Theory.
5/17/2014 4:18 PM

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The pilot was shot well before the finale for HIMYM, so I don't think one had to do with the other. The understanding I have is that the cast chemistry was non-existent, so it was hard for the test audiences to like the lead character when no one on the show seemed to! Some were also upset, it seems, that the main character was divorced.
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