Network Upfronts by John Keegan

2013 Network Upfronts: CBS

2013 Network Upfronts: CBS

In many ways, CBS is the least exciting network during upfronts week.  Why?  Because CBS is pretty much sticking to what has worked incredible well for them, and just shuffling the deck with new comedies to attempt a few in-roads here and there.  Even so, there are a couple surprises, so it’s not as if the schedule isn’t changing at all!


8-8:30PM How I Met Your Mother (Returning)
This is the final season for the legen-waitforit-dary sitcom, and for some, the end couldn’t come soon enough.  I’ve mentioned before that comedies have a half-life, and How I Met Your Mother is definitely on the downhill slope to the close.  At least the writers know that it will be the last season, and can stage things accordingly.

8:30-9PM We Are Men (NEW)
Single men in an apartment complex discuss and debate the foibles of their love lives.  Not exactly ground-breaking.

9-9:30PM 2 Broke Girls (Returning)
I’ve given this show a chance now and then, if only because I generally find the two leads mildly attractive.  It’s too bad that the writing is so terrible.

9:30-10PM Mom (NEW)
The latest Chuck Lorre comedy has an amazing cast list, but I’m not sure that it’s going to be enough to get me past a somewhat tired premise.

10-11PM Hostages (NEW)
A “high-octane” thriller from Jerry Bruckheimer starring Toni Colette, and the only new drama premiering in the fall.  It’s supposedly all about a conspiracy theory, which makes me wonder just how long the audience is going to be patient with all the unbelievable twists and turns.  This is a serialized limited series, however, so that might mean better, tighter plotting.


8-9PM NCIS (Returning)
This would be one of those reliable mainstays for CBS.  It’s shocking how strong this show remains in the ratings.  I was an early fan, but over the many seasons, I became tired of the apparent lack of character development.  But clearly a lot of people are still invested in the show.

9-10PM NCIS: Los Angeles (Returning)
Not surprisingly, the NCIS spinoff is also getting fine numbers, and thus the Tuesday night block isn’t going anywhere.  But there is a surprising change in the wind…

10-11PM Person of Interest (Returning)
Person of Interest gets ridiculously good and very stable ratings, so while it may be like putting all the good eggs in one basket, CBS is set to crush the competition on Tuesdays.  (Agents of SHIELD notwithstanding.)  This is one of my favorite network shows right now, with an excellent cast and solid writing and production values, and the fact that it is clearly a genre show doesn’t seem to be holding it back.  Those still looking for the next Abrams hit may have overlooked this gem.


8-9PM Survivor (Returning)
It’s hardly fresh, and the rating have dropped over the years, but one of the first reality hits of the century continues to churn along as a reliable part of CBS’ portfolio.  For me, it reaffirms my hope that CW continues with its Arrow/Supernatural block.

9-10PM Criminal Minds (Returning)
I dislike this show quite a bit, because its early years went for shock value over substance, blending excessive gore with outright misogyny to lure in viewers.  I have no idea if those trends have continued, but the promos make it seem that way.

10-11PM CSI (Returning)
Another of the CBS staples.  The spinoffs may have come and gone, but the original never seems to die, even if just about everyone finally acknowledges that the “science” is complete nonsense.  My understanding is that the writers finally started to add some character development to the mix, but what little I’ve seen of CSI gave me little reason to come back.


8-8:30PM Big Bang Theory (Returning)
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this show, and the whole “comedy half-life” thing certainly also applies here.  I have no idea how much longer they can keep going with this show, and it bothers me when they have supposed uber-geeks outwardly admit that they are lame or otherwise deserving of ridicule.

8:30-9PM “The Millers” (NEW)
I’m not even going to try to figure out how to explain the premise without referring to a million other sitcoms over the years, but suffice to say, it’s a Will Arnett vehicle.  If you enjoy his brand of humor, you might like this.

9-9:30PM The Crazy Ones (NEW)
Robin Williams.  Sarah Michelle Gellar.  David E. Kelley.  This could either be a work of brilliance or the most epic train wreck in recent sitcom history.

9:30-10PM Two and a Half Men (Returning)
Is this the final season?  Can it finally be the final season?

10-11PM Elementary (Returning)
If Person of Interest is the big winner of the scheduling shuffle, capping off an already powerful night with a solid lead-in, Elementary got the short end of the deal.  After all that nurturing and creative improvement this season, why in the world would they shove this at the end of an attempted comedy block?


8-9PM Undercover Boss (Returning)
The dearth of Friday night material means that I occasionally tune in to this show.  I still can’t decide if it’s the most blatant pro-CEO propaganda campaign ever conceived, or a genuine but misguided attempt at crossing the worker/executive divide.  What I do wonder is how the co-workers of those who benefit feel when they learn what they might have gained, had they been lucky enough.  (I suspect, based on how reality TV works, that the employees are hand-picked beforehand, even if they are unaware of it.)

9-10PM Hawaii-Five-O (Returning)
Ouch.  I know the ratings haven’t been nearly as good as in previous seasons, but did they really earn the Friday Night Death Slot?

10-11PM Blue Bloods (Returning)
I assume that this show survives because older viewers that no longer go out on Friday nights tune in for Tom Selleck and the “old school” nature of the show.  What little I’ve seen in passing has never drawn me in.


8-9PM The Amazing Race (Returning)
Easily the best reality show on the major networks, from my perspective, because even when it slides into typical team conflict, it’s all balanced out with amazing visuals from around the world, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the cluelessness of many Americans when it comes to geography, and inventive challenges.

9-10PM The Good Wife (Returning)
Yet another powerhouse in the CBS stable, this is a genuinely good show (most of the time, anyway).  I’m not at all surprised to see Sunday night’s lineup exactly where we left it.

10-11PM The Mentalist (Returning)
I have no idea what the ratings are like for this show, but I’m impressed that it survived the move to late Sunday, especially when it’s a time of night when a lot of folks are checking their DVRs for all the cable shows that just ended or just started.


“Intelligence” (Mondays)
Hitting the air after Hostages is done its run, this is a Josh Holloway vehicle about a spy with a microprocessor chip in his brain, allowing him access to the Internet and networked resources at all times.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I really want to know how he continues to operate with all those cat pictures and free porn running around his head…

“Reckless” (Unscheduled)
Billed as a “sultry legal drama”, a hot Yankee lawyer teams up with an experienced Old South attorney in Charleston.  I can’t imagine how this will end well.

“Friends with Better Lives” (Unscheduled)
A rom-com with a fairly interesting cast, including a few genre veterans of yesteryear, exploring the differences between married, divorced, engaged, and single folk.  Sounds rather familiar.


Mike and Molly was apparently renewed, but isn’t on the schedule; it’s simply listed as “mid-season”, which makes me think that it’s on deck, pending the potential flame-out of one of the new comedies.  After all, there’s always that one show, every season, that either never makes it to air or runs one episode before offending the entire universe or gaining record low ratings.

Some were wondering if Rules of Engagement would continue to survive, regardless of how terrible its ratings had become, given that CBS still ran new episodes, even on Saturday nights!  The reason for bringing this up is that it has given CBS a strategy for failing comedies; they actually have reserved Saturday nights for “showcasing” comedies, which can serve a number of purposes: encores, pre-emption rescheduling, or burnoffs.


CBS didn’t shake things up too much, but what they did do could have two very different outcomes for their former Thursday night genre block.  Person of Interest will likely continue to dominate, and might even gain viewers sticking around from the NCIS block.  Elementary, on the other hand, has a lot to overcome, as it loses its ultra-popular lead-in and has to depend on a questionable comedy block.  Otherwise, beyond a couple of high-concept limited series, CBS is staying their tried and true course.

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 - 5/15/2013 8:06 PM420 views


5/15/2013 8:10 PM

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I really have to catch up with HIMYM.

As for TBBT, I like it despite the hatred it tends to get.

And I'm still wondering how in hell Two and Half Men is still going on after Charlie's departure.
5/16/2013 6:00 AM

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Not only that, but as of next season the "half man" is released from his contract and will only be a recurring guest star instead of a series regular.
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