As I continue my coverage from way beyond the sidelines, I take on the CBS schedule, which was revealed last week at the annual “upfronts”, the first presentation of the networks fall schedules to advertisers. Here’s what CBS has got going on in 2006-2007.
As much TV as I watch, and umm, it’s a lot, I don’t really get into much of the CBS lineup. Over the past few years CBS has dyed some of its grey hair and with the help of CSI and reality-hits like The Amazing Race and Survivor, has started to reach a younger, more lucrative, demographic. With so many shows performing well, they aren’t looking to make all that many changes to their schedule, only premiering 3 new dramas and 1 comedy at the start of the regular season. The fact that CBS is only putting one true procedural on the air (at least it’s a law show, and not another CSI – damn you William Peterson and your exemplary crime scene investigation skills!) is proof that the risks they are taking are existent, yet measured. Kind of like when a senior citizen changes their Metamucil flavor. Since only four new shows are premiering, a lot of last year’s schedule remains intact: CBS wisely put Yes, Dear and Still Standing out of their (our) misery (although be careful, we’ve thought these shows had been gone before, and they’ve come back from the grave to haunt us at mid-season); Both Out of Practice and the mid-season Courting Alex were dumped once they moved out of the cushy post-Two and a Half-Menand 300 Hollywood Hookers timeslot and bombed on Wednesday nights. The only quality shows that didn’t make it were the underperforming Sci-Fi Threshold (someone please make Carla Gugino a star already) and the too-little too-late fan favorite, Love Monkey. And don’t worry, all you Kevin James/Stacey Carosi fans out there: The King of Queens will be back at midseason after a last minute deal was made with the stars that I’m assuming gave Kevin James more money and time off for his movie career, and, one can only imagine, the sacrifice of a holy virgin to appease the Scientology Gods for Leah Remini. Let’s see what else is in store for us next season on the least cool network on television.
DAMN YOU ANDERSON COOPER STOP STARING THROUGH MY SOUL
I don’t know how long it’s been on, but at 7:00 pm will be yet another season of 60 Minutes. Seems like pretty standard stuff, but there’s actually a mini-shake up with the retirement of Mike Wallace and the hiring of news’ very own silver fox (no, not Taylor Hicks), Anderson Cooper, for a few segments over the course of the season. The Amazing Race (which with House over at FOX is my most regrettable wish-I-watch-it show on television) is in its third time slot in as many years, anchoring the night at 8:00 pm. Cold Case sticks around at 9:00 pm and will continue to be Television’s least buzzed about hit show. In one of it’s boldest schedule moves, CBS moves the second highest rated drama on television, Without a Trace to Sundays at 10:00 pm, which might be a pretty smart move with the relocation of Grey’s Anatomy to Thursdays on ABC. Without a Trace has really hit its stride this year, and it’s fun to watch because all of the FBI agents are just oh so pretty. Well, except for the unfortunate Marianne Jean-Baptiste whom no amount of new hairstyles and makeup can fix. As a matter of fact, half the pleasure of the show happens whenever there is an interrogation. You can tell the person on the other side of the table thinks they have been arrested by two “FBI Agents” for excessive naughtiness and are going to be treated to a striptease and a spanking. Honestly, what federal agents look like Poppy Montgomery?! Or maybe that’s just what I’m thinking about while watching…
COOLEST CAST ON TELEVISION? TRUST ME I DIDN’T SEE IT COMING EITHER.
Moving to 8:00 pm is my biggest surprise from last year, How I Met Your Mother. As I mentioned in my FOX recap, I’m contractually bound by Joss Whedon to watch anything involving a Buffy/Angel cast member, in this case the Sapphic Sorceress herself, Willow Rosenberg, a.k.a. Alyson Hannigan. What I was not expecting was to fall so hard and so quickly in DVR–season pass–level adoration with this show. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s definitely worth a look. It can get a little too romantic comedy-ish (says the guy who just wrote the word adoration), but it more than makes up for it in the laughs department. Neil Patrick Harris erases all memories of Doogie Howser and channels the Neil Patrick Harris many of us fell in love with not in Clara’s Heart, but rather in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. AND to top off its cool quotient (even though it’s on the CBS), Nick/Eric from Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared is in it! What more do you need? After a great season finale (Marshall and Lily- NOOO Ted & Robyn YAY), if any show is poised to break out in its sophomore season, I’ve got to think this is the one.
Premiering at 8:30 is The Class, which was one of the first pilots picked up by any network this season (after a pretty intense bidding war), which I imagine bodes pretty well. The show is about a group of twentysomethings (are there any other kind of groups on television?) who were friends in third grade and are reunited 20 years later. Cutesy for sure, but Jason Ritter has turned into quite a likable and effective comedian à la his late pop, John. He heads the cast along with uber-likable Joey refugee Andrea Anders and Mean Girl-hater Janice Ian (Lizzy Caplan). I have enough goodwill left over from HIMYM to give this show a whirl. Sticking around at 9:00 is the inexplicably number one rated comedy on television Two and a Half Men. I just don’t get the appeal of this show, and I find it hard to watch, mostly because the tabloid circus that is Charlie Sheen is far more entreating. Furthermore, it’s hard to watch the poor chubby kid playing the half man from the title. With all the debauchery going on around him, he’s only about 5 seasons away from a starring role on Child Stars: Where Are They Now, saying something like: “Then I lost my virginity to a coke whore in Uncle Charlie’s trailer… and that’s when I realized I had hit bottom.” Shudder. Bringing up the end of the comedy-block is Seinfeld curse disparager Julia-Louis Dreyfuss’ midseason hit, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Don’t let the cumbersome title fool you: this show is actually quite funny, thanks in no small part to Ms. Dreyfuss’ excessive charm. 10:00 pm is CSI: Miami which despite the inclusion of David Caruso continues to perform exceptionally. I heard that this show ended with a … wait for it… wait for it… bang this season, but I just couldn’t care less.
CBS will again go with NCIS at 8:00 pm; so my parents and grandmother will still have something to watch on Tuesdays. Actually, based on the big numbers this show puts up, chances are most people’s parents are tuning in to see how Mark Harmon went from Summer School to lame navy procedural. Sticking around at 9:00 pm is midseason’s The Unit, a show I actually wanted to catch if only because it comes from the cerebral mind of playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glenross). When he’s not being assassinated on 24 or scaring me into buying Allstate car insurance, Dennis Haysbert shows up to star in this show with Felicity/Jennifer Garner castoff. Scott Foley. Alas, this show has no shot with me again this season as it is up against the luminous/sublime/genius Veronica Mars and better shows I’m interested in checking out (right now, NBC’s new show Kidnapped and FOX’s House are the frontrunners for the coveted DVR slot). At 10:00 pm is the premiere of Shark about a (tell me if you’ve heard this one before) former high-power attorney (stop it) who decides to quit his job (I’m listening…) and become a prosecutor (no way) and mentor a bunch of young, inexperienced, and I’m willing to bet attractive, Assistant District Attorneys (shut your mouth!). Jeri Ryan is around to add some spice, and you’re interest in this show will be in direct proportion to how high your James Woods threshold is. My James Woods-ometer maxes out at 4, so chances are I’ll be catching up on my DVR at this point in the night.
LOOK YOU PUT THIS GUY ON CRIMINAL MINDS AND MAYBE I’LL CHECK IT OUT.
The lead off slot belongs to the new show, Jericho, starring Skeet Ulrich. No, it’s not a show about obnoxious people living on Long Island, NY, but rather a small town that is cut off from the rest of the world after a mysterious nuclear explosion. The show looks pretty intriguing — I just hope it learned a lesson from the slow-burning Invasion on ABC. That show took way too long to get really good and was thus cancelled, but if Jericho gets the ball rolling quickly, it might have a shot. Unfortunately, early word suggests that Jericho does not take my advice. At 9:00 pm CBS is keeping the surprise hit Criminal Minds put since it was able to more than hold its own again Lost and American Idol in its premiere season. Again, not a show I ever got into, which is surprising because there was a time I thought I would follow Inigo Montoya to the ends of the earth to find out who killed his father. Alas, the ends of the earth was CBS’ lineup that had Inigo letting his dominant personality, Mandy Patinkin, overtake him and charge him with solving dastardly crimes that Stabler does a better job of working out over on Law & Order: SVU. CSI: NY closes the night. I wonder if this show has gotten any better in the last two years? Since Melina Kanakaredes is still sniffing around I’m going to guess, no.
Reality staple Survivor will be premiering it’s next band of merry masochists after a low-buzz season. They are going to need to kick it up a notch this season since the 8:00 pm timeslot is going to be tougher than last year (with NBC moving it’s two very buzzed about sitcoms My Name Is Earl and The Office back to the Must-See TV leadoff spots). At 9:00 pm is the number one rated drama, CSI, which is going to face it’s first real competition (sorry Mr. Trump) when the seemingly unstoppable Grey’s Anatomy shows up on ABC in this timeslot. My guess? Both shows will take a hit and both shows will be fine. Taking the place of Without a Trace (which made a move to Sundays at 10:00) will be the new series Smith, headlined by Ray Liotta, which centers around his character, a high-stakes thief who, along with his team of crooks, pulls off Ocean’s Eleven-style heists, only a little darker and with a lot less quipping. CBS gave it one of the best timeslots on television, so hopes are running high. With a cast that includes Virginia Madsen, Amy Smart (finally realizing that she’s never going to be a movie star), Simon Baker and Angelina’s ex, Jonny Lee Miller, the producers will have to try pretty hard to mess this one up.
THIS WAY, IF ONE OF THE GHOSTS TRIES BASHING IN HER HEAD, SHE HAS THAT HELMET TO PROTECT HER. DUH.
Friday. Or as I like to call it, the least interesting night on television. Ghost Whisperer comes back (supposedly) without it’s best asset: Aisha Tyler (or will we hear from her from the beyyyyond). At 9:00 pm, the transplanted hit, Close to Home, tries it’s second season without husband Christian Kane (Lindsey on Angel) to bog down Annabeth on her crusade for safety in the ‘burbs. I caught this show a few times last season, and it actually wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t so good either. It’s okay on a Friday night if you are staying in. And you’re all caught up on your DVR. And there’s nothing on DVD you want to watch. Lastly is Numb3ers, a show about Rob Morrow (huh?) solving crimes (what?) using math (say that again). Inexplicably, this show is a hit, despite Navi Rawat (Theresa, The O.C.’s resident life ruiner and, now that Marissa is dead, Ryan’s potential true love). It’s also hard to watch a show that so blatantly wastes the talents of David Krumholtz as the math-loving brother mentioned above.
Crimetime Saturday from 8 – 10 – umm, I have no idea what that means, but I think this is where you’ll be able to catch those coveted NCIS reruns, followed by 48 Hours: Mystery.