CBS: Fall 2012
The May Upfronts bring a slew of announcements by the networks. In this installment we focus on the fate of shows you should care about at CBS.
The one CBS drama that I tune into every week does not have the ratings that some of their shows do, nor does it have the cachet of many cable dramas. The Good Wife is in that strange category of procedural with deep and richly drawn characters. It is a show that does not have a cool factor, in that it is about attorneys at a law firm in a major city and also has the ratings knock that (wrongly) comes with a female-led narrative.
I say this all to show that I understand where many people reading this are coming from. It does not seem like a show that fans of genre fiction would be interested in. Let me tell you this though; The Good Wife is one of TV’s closest approximations to the political and social dynamics of a show like Game of Thrones. Suffice it to say, the show’s renewal makes me very happy. The Good Wife will return this fall in its normal Sunday night time slot.
Also coming back are no brainers How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) and The Big Bang Theory (BBT). HIMYM is coming off of its best ratings to date and BBT is the second highest rated comedy (behind Two and a Half Men), so there was almost no possible scenario where these shows did not return. HIMYM and BBT are both returning to their normal time slots, but in a move to dominate the night, CBS has decided to move Two and a Half Men to Thursdays behind BBT. This may factor into NBC’s move of Community into Fridays, and the decision to not add a new series to their Thursday line-up. It seems that programming against this CBS power line-up of the number one and number two scripted comedies is a death wish.
One of the benefits of being the most successful network on television is that normally you don’t have to cancel many shows. This season followed that line of reasoning in that CBS canceled very few shows and none that many of you likely watched. The one notable cancellation the network announced was that of the long running CSI:Miami. The network explained that the cost of the CSI spin-offs (Miami and New York) were ballooning as the shows aged, and that this year they needed to pull the plug on one of them. Miami drew the short straw in that they wanted to move The Mentalist to Sundays and replacing the CSI show in that time slot made more sense than cancelling CSI: New York and shifting CSI: Miami to a new day.
One effect of having few cancellations is that it means there are fewer open spots for new programs. This season CBS ordered six pilots to be shot and picked up five of them. That is a small sample size and a high hit rate for any network. Of those five new series only one them looks to have any promise.
Elementary is the network’s attempt to bring Sherlock Holmes to American television. The series follows Jonny Lee Miller (using his real British accent) as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Watson (I know, I know. Watson is supposed to be a “dude”). There are two reasons I think this show may actually work. First is the fact that Jonny Lee Miller is a great actor. There have been many shows pulled up in quality by a solid performance from their lead actor. The second is that CBS knows procedurals. Like it or not, procedurals sell, and if we can get a show with a competent crime story every week mixed with an evolving character study of someone portayed by a good actor, I’ll call that a win.
Elementary will air Thursdays at 10:00 this fall with ABC’s Scandal and NBC’s news show Rock Center as its only competition in the time slot. If you’re looking for a show to watch at 10:00 then it seems like a no-brainer to me. Check out a teaser/behind-the-scenes look at the show here.