Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fall Lineup Frenzy Part III: CBS

CBS is the big dog of the broadcast networks at the moment. It has lead all networks in total viewers for the past few years and it looks like it will take the lead again for the 2005-2006 season. Also, not only does CBS have the number one drama on TV with CSI, it also has a whopping six shows returning for their second seasons. With so much going for CBS right now, what tweaks will be made to ensure its dominance in the 2006-2007 season?

(All times are Eastern. New shows are in bold.)


8-8:30 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9 p.m.: The Class
9-9:30 p.m.: Two And A Half Men
9:30-10 p.m. The New Adventures Of Old Christine
10-11 p.m.: CSI: Miami

From CBS's Press Release:

THE CLASS (Monday, 8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT), from Emmy Award winner David Crane ("Friends") and Emmy Award nominee Jeffrey Klarik ("Mad About You"), is a comedy about the lives of a group of 20-somethings who are inextricably bound together having shared the same third grade class. Now face to face at an impromptu reunion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day they met, they wonder if they'll have anything in common besides vague memories of playground kisses and underwear sightings on the monkey bars. Turns out they do. After two decades apart for most of them, some are eager to show off, some want to rekindle old crushes and others just want to satisfy their curiosity. Whatever the case, their lives will intersect from this point forward, sharing childhood memories and dealing with adult issues -- career, relationships and the general direction or misdirection life will take them. Jason Ritter ("Joan of Arcadia"), Heather Goldenhersh ("The Merchant of Venice"), Lizzy Caplan ("Related"), Jon Bernthal ("Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman"), Sean Maguire ("Eve"), Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Putnam County Spelling Bee"), Lucy Punch ("Ella Enchanted") and Andrea Anders ("Joey") also star. Multiple Emmy Award winner James Burrows directs. Crane, Klarik and Burrows are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television.

My Thoughts: Monday sees one comedy getting moved to a new time (How I Met Your Mother) and the network's only new comedy series (The Class). This is a strong night for CBS and The Class seems like a good fit for How I Met Your Mother since both shows deal with younger characters and relationships. There is some very big talent behind the scenes of The Class, but big talent behind-the-scenes doesn't always translate into a good show. However, by being sandwiched right between How I Met Your Mother and Two And A Half Men, it, at the very least, has a good chance of becoming a hit show.


8-9 p.m.: NCIS
9-10 p.m.: The Unit
10-11 p.m. Smith

From CBS's Press Release:

SMITH (Tuesday, 10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) stars Emmy Award winner Ray Liotta ("ER," "Goodfellas,") as a criminal mastermind in a drama about a close-knit crew of career criminals who plot and execute intricate and ingenious high-stakes heists across the country. Though Bobby Stevens (Liotta) appears to be a regular family man with a nine-to-five job, he's actually an expert thief who is seeking just two or three more big jobs so he can finally leave the business for a comfortable, lawful lifestyle with his wife, Hope (Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"). Bobby's second family, his core band of partners, each bring their own areas of expertise to pulling off the biggest and most sophisticated armed robberies. The FBI is determined to catch the team but is most interested in capturing "Smith," the crew's mysterious leader and the brains behind the entire operation. It remains to be seen whether Bobby will be able to extricate himself in time from the scores that give him such a rush, or if his retirement will be a forced one -- behind bars. Jonny Lee Miller ("Trainspotting"), Franky G ("Saw II"), Simon Baker ("The Guardian") and Amy Smart ("Felicity") also star. Emmy Award winner John Wells ("ER," "The West Wing") is the executive producer for Warner Bros. Television.

My Thoughts: Tuesday night is certainly bolstered by Smith, one of CBS's three new dramas. This show will certainly be a high-profile show for CBS with Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen as leads and John Wells (of The West Wing and ER) producing. The premise is a familiar one (career thief wants to get out of the game) but if it can live up to the hype that will undoubtedly come in the next couple of months, it will have a home on CBS for a while.


8-9 p.m.: Jericho
9-10 p.m.: Criminal Minds
10-11 p.m.: CSI: NY

From CBS's Press Release:

JERICHO (Wednesday, 8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) is a drama about what happens when a nuclear mushroom cloud suddenly appears on the horizon, plunging the residents of a small, peaceful Kansas town into chaos, leaving them completely isolated and wondering if they're the only Americans left alive. Fear of the unknown propels Jericho into social, psychological and physical mayhem when all communication and power is shut down. The town starts to come apart at the seams as terror, anger and confusion bring out the very worst in some residents. But in this time of crisis, as sensible people become paranoid, personal agendas take over and well-kept secrets threaten to be revealed, some people will find an inner strength they never knew they had and the most unlikely heroes will emerge. Skeet Ulrich ("Scream"), Gerald McRaney ("Ike: Countdown to D-Day"), Ashley Scott ("Dark Angel"), Pamela Reed ("Proof of Life"), Kenneth Mitchell ("The Recruit"), Lennie James ("Sahara"), Sprague Grayden ("Six Feet Under"), Michael Gaston ("Prison Break") and Erik Knudsen ("Saw II") star. Jon Turteltaub ("National Treasure"), Stephen Chbosky ("Rent") and Carol Barbee ("Judging Amy") are executive producers for CBS Paramount Network Television, in association with Junction Entertainment.

My Thoughts: CBS's attempt at sci-fi, Threshold, did not make it very long last season. Now, CBS seems to be trying its hand at a Lost-style psychological drama with Jericho. Jericho airs an hour before ABC's popular show, so it may be able to attract some of the same viewers. I like the show's premise (it reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode or two) and if things don't get too convoluted, it could be pretty good. My only concern is how well it will work with the shows that are following it, both of which are crime dramas. It's entirely possible that viewers will skip Jericho to catch the shows they already enjoy.


8-9 p.m.: Survivor
9-10 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
10-11 p.m.: Shark

From CBS's Press Release:

SHARK (Thursday, 10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) stars multiple Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner James Woods ("Ghosts of Mississippi," "ER") as Sebastian Stark, a charismatic, supremely self-confident defense attorney who, after a shocking outcome in one of his cases and a personal epiphany, brings his cutthroat tactics to the prosecutor's office. As the head of the Los Angeles District Attorney's High Profile Crime Unit, Stark works for Jessica Devlin, (Jeri Ryan, "The O.C."), the ambitious and accomplished D.A. who despises his ruthless strategies. Devlin teams him with a group of young prosecutors who are about to have the learning experience of a lifetime because, though Stark is seeking to redeem himself, he has no intention of cooling his underhanded approach to cases just because he's now working for the "good guys." Sam Page ("American Dreams"), Alexis Cruz ("American Family"), Sarah Carter ("Numb3rs"), Danielle Panabaker ("Mom at Sixteen"), Romy Rosemont ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation") and Sophina Brown ("Without a Trace") also star. Academy Award nominee Spike Lee directs. Academy Award winner Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind," "24"), David Nevins ("Arrested Development"), Ian Biederman ("Crossing Jordan") and Ed Redlich ("Without A Trace") are executive producers for Imagine Entertainment, in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television.

My Thoughts: Just like the other networks, Thursday is CBS's marquee night. The network's final new drama airs in the enviable post-CSI spot. Any new show that airs there is going to have to be of high quality and CBS may have a winner in Shark. In a lot of respects, Shark is just another legal show but the key to its potential success is James Woods. I like James Woods as an actor and this show looks like it will fit him perfectly. With Spike Lee, fresh off Inside Man, setting the feel of the show with the pilot, and Brian Grazer producing, Shark could be one of the better new dramas to premiere this fall. It would probably be a severe disappointment if this show doesn't perform well.


8-9 p.m.: Ghost Whisperer
9-10 p.m.: Close To Home
10-11 p.m.: Numb3rs

My Thoughts: This lineup is doing pretty well, so CBS decided not to tinker with it. I've heard so many good things about Numb3rs that maybe next season will be the time to finally check it out.


8-9 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
9-10 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
10:00-11:00 p.m.: 48 Hours: Mystery

My Thoughts: The Crimetime Saturday lineup is pretty popular considering. I wonder if ABC's Saturday Night College Football will put a dent in its ratings.


7-8 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8-9 p.m.: The Amazing Race
9-10 p.m.: Cold Case
10-11 p.m.: Without A Trace

My Thoughts: Sunday is the only night that CBS really made some changes to. CBS has decided to end its 20-year-old tradition of showing movies on Sunday nights. More and more, it seems like Sunday is the new Thursday for TV viewing. CBS is putting three of its more popular shows together to combat ABC's powerhouse lineup, NBC's football, and the comedies of FOX. If the gamble works, it could further cement CBS's overall dominance. I can't wait to see what the ratings look like for Sundays this fall.

Overall: With CBS leading all networks in adults 25-54 and in overall viewers, not much really needed to be done. In adding only four new shows, the network is keeping things pretty stable. For the most part, the new shows fit in with CBS's current direction and emphasize respected talent in front of and behind the cameras. CBS's lineup isn't the flashiest or even the most creative but it is consistent and for CBS's viewers, quality and consistency is what keeps them watching.

Coming Up Next: FOX

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