Saturday, May 10, 2014

Prelude to Upfronts: Cancellations and Pick-ups

Before I started this blog, the whole business of “Network Upfronts” was as foreign as the Greek language to me. All I knew is that sometime in May the US networks would announce their new shows and cancel the unsuccessful ones from the previous year, and then the Canadian networks would pick them over to find the “best of the lot” for us, and conveniently forget that half of the shows that they considered the “best of the lot” were either cancelled by the end of the season.

Upfronts used to be the day when a Network President and his (and they were all men for a long time) would stand in front of the assembled masses of advertisers and the ink-stained wretches from the entertainment media and announce which shows have been cancelled and which have been picked up, and what next season’s TV schedule would look like. The advertisers would then – over the next few weeks – decide what shows they’d make their media buys on, and how much they’d be willing to pay. Meanwhile the entertainment media would, wittingly or not, promote the new shows with information even thought they’d basically only seen the few clips provided by the network at the Upfronts. The key point was that the networks announced all of their changes at their Upfront day.

In recent years things have changed. Networks announce their renewals and their cancellations before the Upfronts – days and sometimes even weeks before – and they’ve taken to announcing shows they’ve picked up in advance as well. In the past I’ve held off from reporting or commenting on these announcements, preferring to wait until a network’s upfront day. I’m not sure that that approach is practical anymore. So what I’ve decided to do is to list the cancellations and the pickups before the upfronts, and comment on the percentage of available time that the proposed new shows will be taking up on each network.

ABC
Cancellations: The Assets, Back In The Game, Killer Women, Lucky 7, Mind Games, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Mixology, Trophy Wife, Betrayal, The Neighbors, Super Fun Night, Suburgatory,
Status Unknown: The Taste, Black Box
Picked Up: Dramas  American Crime, The Astronauts Wives Club,The Club, Forever, How To Get Away With Murder, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Secrets & Lies, The Whispers
Comedies – Black-ish, Galavant, Manhattan Love Story, Selfie
Update: Two comedies that I missed: Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat  which were announced at the same time as the renewal of Last Man Standing.

Comments: Eight hours of Dramas, four half-hours of Comedies. I was saddened but not surprised by the cancellation of Trophy Wife. The kids, and in particular Burt, were great and it was fun to see Bradley Whitford playing straight man both to the kids and the women in his life. If this show had a better time slot – like between The Middle and Modern Family instead of after another newcomer, The Goldbergs – I think it could have worked.

CBS

Cancellations: How I Met Your Mother, We Are Men, Bad Teacher, The Crazy Ones, Friends With Better Lives, Hostages, Intelligence
Picked Up: Dramas – Battle Creek, CSI: Cyber, Madam Secretary, NCIS: New Orleans, Scorpion, Stalker
Comedies – The McCarthys, The Odd Couple

Comments: Six hours of Dramas, two half-hours of Comedies. Only two survivors of the new shows, Mom and The Millers. I think that the limited series nature of Hostages was a bad choice to go against Castle, and Intelligence was just pretty bad. Disappointed that the cut The Crazy Ones, a series with a stand-out cast that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately stand-out cast equals expensive cast, which was probably as much a cause of the show’s demise as the ratings.

FOX

Cancellations: American Dad (moving to TBS), The Cleveland Show, Raising Hope, The X-Factor, Almost Human, Dads, Enlisted, Surviving Jack, Rake
Picked Up: Dramas – Backstrom, Empire, Gotham, Hieroglyph, Red Band Society
Comedies – Last Man On Earth, Mulaney, Weird Loners

Comments: Five hours of Dramas, three half-hours of Comedies. All of the professional TV critics are mourning the loss of Enlisted but I never saw the show (because the premise sounded dumb to me) so I can’t comment. I really liked Almost Human, the “cop and robot” buddy show set in a not totally dystopian future. It wasn’t great but I liked it better than THe Following. So sue me.

NBC

Cancellations: Ironside, Sean Saves The World, Welcome To The Family, The Michael J. Fox Show, Believe, Community, Crisis, Dracula, Revolution, Growing Up Fisher
Status Unknown: Parenthood
Picked Up: Dramas – Allegiance, Constantine, Emerald City, The Mysteries of Laura, Odyssey, Shades Of Blue, State of Affairs
Comedies – A to Z, Bad Judge, Marry Me, Mission Control, Mr. Robinson, One Big Happy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Comments: Seven hours of Dramas, seven half-hours of Comedy. It is a mark of how far NBC has fallen that I can’t think of one show that they cancelled that I am really going to miss. I know the professional critics and a devoted fan base loved Community with a love that burned like the Sun, but I never watched it, being totally turned off by the presence of Chevy Chase. BTW, there apparently hasn't been a decision on Parenthood because of negotiations over the number of episodes stars of the show will appear in. The network weasels want the leads to do nine episodes of the total of thirteen planned, and they're balking at that idea
Update: While the renewal of Parenthood has not been announced officially, the cast have apparently agreed to a deal which would see them each participate in a reduced number of episodes within a 13 episode season, thus allowing the series to have a resolution.

The CW
Cancellations: Nikita, The Carrie Diaries, The Tomorrow People, Star Crossed
Picked Up: The Flash, iZombie, Jane The Virgin, The Messengers

Comments: Four hours of new series, all Dramas. Yawn. The only show I watch on The CW is Arrow. I suppose I’m sort of surprised that a show about 16th century royalty and religious wars (Reign) got renewed, and I suppose that The 100 is the sort of show I generally like but really, I’ve got nothing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Late Night Turnover

craig-fergusonSo Craig Ferguson has announced that he’ll be leaving the Late Late Show in December of 2014. This the the fourth of the broadcast network late night talk shows to either replace their hosts or announce that their hosts will be leaving within a year. First Leno hands off The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon, which necessitates Fallon handing off Late Night to Seth Meyers. Then you had David Letterman quitting The Late Show With David Letterman and being replaced with Stephen Colbert – the comedian, not the character he plays on The Colbert Report – and now Craig Ferguson is going away. Only Jimmy Kimmel remains from last year’s hosts.

Which brings us to the question of who will replace Ferguson? Of the three replacements – Fallon, Meyers and Colbert – only one was a sure thing before the replacement took place and that was Fallon. His deal to replace Leno was in place for quite some time. For the others, there was a lot of speculation about who would, or should get the job. In fact I was working on a piece for this long dormant blog of mine about who should replace Letterman when they announced Colbert. I can’t remember now who I was coming out in favour of, but it wasn’t Colbert.

At the same time that I was trying to figure out who should replace Letterman, some people were being quite vocal about putting someone “different” from the basic “Straight White Guy” in the host’s chair, and they seemed to pick on The Late Show as a place to start “the revolution.” To a degree they have a valid point. Of the late night talk show hosts out there, and this includes syndication and cable shows as well as the broadcast networks, the only ones who aren’t “Straight White Guys” are Chelsea Handler on E! Network’s Chelsea Lately, and Arsenio Hall on the syndicated Arsenio Hall Show. And Handler is leaving her show this Fall when her contract with E! comes to an end… which led to speculation that she was a candidate for the Late Show job and is a candidate for the Late Late Show position, rumours that have been denied by both CBS and Handler herself.

Current speculation – and I don’t know who is doing the speculating , I just got this stuff from Mark Evanier’s blog – is that John Oliver from The Daily Show or Neil Patrick Harris (formerly from How I Met Your Mother) are leading candidates. However Oliver (Straight White Guy) has a two year contract with HBO to do a late night talk show satirizing current events called Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which probably knocks him out of the running. Harris (Gay White Guy) has had experience both as a comedic actor and as an awards show host on numerous occasions so he’s a good candidate. However he and his family have recently moved to New York, and after many years of their being no late night talk shows in New York except Letterman, three of the five are now New York based. I think CBS would probably prefer to have at least one Los Angeles based host. So maybe the field is open to a different prospect.

Even though the people who wanted someone who was not a “Straight White Guy” for the Late Show had a point about the lack of diversity among late night talk show hosts, the Late Show was probably the wrong venue for that fight. The network’s big late night show is not a proper venue for someone coming new to the game of hosting a talk show. That’s one of the reasons why many people would not have been upset to see Ferguson take over for Letterman; it would have seemed like a natural progression (it wasn’t going to happen though because Craig had apparently made up his mind to leave well before Dave announced his departure). On the other hand the slot after the late night show is a logical place give potential new hosts a chance to show their stuff. Think of it as a farm team for the major leagues. Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson were all people who had track records in comedy, either as writers (O’Brien) or actors and/or stand-ups (Ferguson, Fallon and even Letterman) but no experience hosting talk shows before they got the show after The Show. Leno didn’t go that route, but he was the regular replacement host for Johnny Carson which was probably the next best thing. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Craig Kilborn, who hosted The Late Late Show for five years between Tom Snyder and Craig Ferguson, hated the experience and seems to have pretty much left the entertainment business. Conan’s time at The Tonight Show was a disaster, although that was probably because Leno didn’t want to go that time. But Letterman was a success, and so far Fallon seems to be succeeding, and I doubt that would have been the case had NBC announced that Seth Meyers was going directly from Saturday Night Live to The Tonight Show. So the opportunity exists for someone who is a “Not Straight White Guy” to get this job.

Do I have a candidate? Well as a matter of fact yes. I’m not sure that this person wants the job and I’m doubting that this person is on the top of anyone else’s list but my candidate is………

aisha-tyler
Aisha Tyler
I think that Tyler has great qualifications beyond being a Straight Black Woman. She’s well known as an actress (Ghost Whisperer, Friends), stand-up comedian, host (the current incarnation of Whose Line Is It Anyway on The CW), podcast host (the Girl on Guy podcast) and daytime talk show co-host (The Talk) on CBS. And Les Moonves knows her because one of the other co-hosts on The Talk is Moonves’s wife Julie Chen. As I’ve said, I doubt that she’ll get the job, but I think she’d be a great choice.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First Comedy Cancelled No Surprise

We are menIt’s We Are Men.

And I’m not kidding that it wasn’t a surprise. There are so many reasons why this show was going to fail that would be apparent to anyone who isn’t a network TV executive that it really is a shock to me that any network would pick it up. Let’s go through them shall we.

1. The central plot device – guys coming together and bonding.
Without resorting to notes I can tell you of two previous series where this central plot device: CBS’s Welcome To The Commodore and ABC’s Carpoolers. The former featured a young man moving into a historic hotel and being taken under the collective wings of the people living there, including the supposedly wiser older man (played in that case by Jeffrey Tambor; in this show it was Tony Shaloub). For the latter I’m going to have to hit IMDb and Wikipedia because memories for failed TV shows isn’t encyclopaedic and this one was gone and forgotten so fast that it would make your head spin. Oh wait, it wasn’t; it lasted 13 episodes. It was just forgotten so fast that it would make your head spin. It was about four guys who carpool together, each with different problems at home. Even reading the descriptions in the Wikipedia article makes me want to turn off my monitor. Suffice it to say that this sort of group of men getting together comedy doesn’t fly very well in the ratings.

2. The other part of the central plot device – Guys trying to regain their masculinity:
If I’m not mistaken we went through a recent spate of comedies that looked at how men were trying to regain their lost masculinity. It was back in the 2011-2012 season, and only one of those shows is still in the line-up. That was the season of such gems as How To Be A Gentleman (the first comedy cancelled that season), Man Up! (which, from looking at the description, is also one of the shows with the first problem – I forgot that this one even existed, lucky me), and the too horrible for words Work It! The only show to survive that trend was Last Man Standing which is still on and is Tim Allen reviving his old Home Improvement series with daughters instead of sons and apparently a lot other similarities that showed up after I gave up on watching this show…about three weeks after it debuted.

3. Show killer Jerry O’Connell: That’s right, I’m labelling Jerry O’Connell a show killer. Take a look at the record. Since Sliders, O’Connell has been a regular on Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers, Do Not Disturb, and The Defenders. Of those series, only Crossing Jordan lasted more than 18 episodes, and that is largely due to the fact that O’Connell’s part wasn’t the lead or even the co-lead. Crossing Jordan was very much Jill Hennessy’s show while O’Connell was the detective who usually worked with her and occasionally expressed romantic feelings towards her. Of the other three series, Carpoolers lasted 13 episodes with O’Connell as one of the four title characters, Do Not Disturb aired 3 episodes (two or three others were made but mercifully never aired), and The Defenders (where he was equally billed with Jim Belushi and was in a semi-dramatic role for the first time since Crossing Jordan), last 18 episodes.

4. A guy in a Speedo: In this case it was Jerry O’Connell, which makes it worse, but really pretty much any guy who isn’t an Olympic swimmer wearing a Speedo is going to make a show a failure. I’m fine with nudity and near nudity on TV – I actually applauded the producers of NYPD Blue for having Dennis Franz bare his butt – but there are some boundaries that just shouldn’t be crossed and a guy in a Speedo - aka a Banana Hammock – is one of them.

We Are Men will be replaced at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) by 2 Broke Girls which had been at 9 p.m. Reruns of The Big Bang Theory will air in the 9 p.m. time slot for the next three weeks. Mike and Molly will return to that time slot on November 4.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The First Series Cancelled Is…

Lucky_7_logoThe ironically named Lucky 7 after two episodes. The second episode of the ABC Tuesday night drama had a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic (which we know are the only people whose buying habits count).

The show had ton of problems. It was part of an all-new Tuesday line-up and aired an hour after the heavily touted blockbuster Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The lead-in for Lucky 7 was the new comedy Trophy Wife. Neither Trophy Wife nor Lucky 7 were given a heavy promotional push by the network before the start of the season. It had a cast of unknows.

There’s one other thing, and I’m not sure it’s accurate but I think it leads into something that is accurate. More than one writer has claimed that people don’t like shows about lottery winners. Of course it’s not exactly easy to find shows in the past about lottery winners, but let’s let that slide.A bigger problem for the show as far as I can see is that it’s an ensemble drama where we have very little investment in what the characters are doing. There is a very long history of shows with that sort of premise dying quickly on the vine. Successful ensemble dramas – shows like Lost or The West Wing grab you with dramatic stories and make you want to be involved with the characters. It isn’t easy to do; for all the Losts and West Wings there are shows like Reunion, Six Degrees Of Separation, and The Nine that are dismal failures. An ensemble drama can work if it delivers a cohesive group dynamic with people we like and can identify with quickly, and dramatic situations that people can relate to. Lucky 7 clearly didn’t do this.

ABC’s immediate plan for the time slot is to have reruns of their hit Thursday night series Scandal fill the slot, opposite new episodes of Person of Interest on CBS and Chicago Fire on NBC.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I’m Ba-ack

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be back reviewing this season’s new shows in the next day or two.

Who am, you ask? I’m Brent McKee the proprietor of this little corner of the Internet that is forever England. No, wait, that’s something else. Oh right; that is forever maintained for the ramblings of a Canadian who is outside the preferred demographic for the TV audience about American TV. That’s a triple irrelevant score. First, because I’m Canadian my opinions or viewership of TV shows doesn’t matter to US network executives. Secondly, because I’m outside the 18-49 demographic I might as well dry up and go away since the networks are convinced that people such as me aren’t effected by advertising and they make their money on advertising. Finally, writing criticism about TV shows might be the most irrelevant thing ever. People may make their choices of the movies they watch based on what a movie critic says (although this certainly doesn’t explain the success of things like the Transformers movies) but when it comes to TV they watch what they watch and don’t give a damn what professional TV watchers say. Want proof?
  • Exhibit A: Two And A Half Men is starting its 10th season and has won two Emmys for acting, while Firefly only had 14 episodes shot, and John Noble was never nominated for an Emmy for playing Walter Bishop on Fringe.
  • Exhibit B: The fact that the ratings for the series finale of Battlestar Galactica were less than a quarter of the ratings for most episodes of the current season of Duck Dynasty (and I like Duck Dynasty, but still…).
  • Exhibit C: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. ‘Nuff said.

Despite the irrelevance of what I’m doing, and despite the fact that I don’t have the various premium services that will deliver unto me what is supposed to be the “new Golden Age” of Television, I am back to tilt at critical windmills again. I think that over the past couple of years I’ve become increasingly burned out by the process, and maybe by some of the frustrations that I just vented about. In the past I’ve tried to write through the sense of being burned out, but this summer I took the opposite approach. Except for some forum comments (mostly at the soccer management game site Hattrick.org, I haven’t written a damned thing since May. We’ll see how that works won’t we.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The CW’s 2013-14 Schedule

the_cwThe CW has its own standards of success that aren’t necessarily the standards of other networks. It explains why shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 lasted as long as they did. What is of interest is that the legitimate successes that The CW has had – shows like Supernatural and Smallville – have had a broader base that transcended the 15-34 female demographic that the network has traditionally aimed for. The network’s most recent success, Arrow (which even Marc Berman has described as a “winner”) has a significant appeal to people who pee standing up. This season’s line-up from The CW looks to continue this trend with it’s new line-up.

Cancelled
90210, Emily Owens M.D., Gossip Girl, Cult

Renewed
Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, America’s Next Top Model

Moved
Hart of Dixie, Beauty And The Beast, Supernatural, The Carrie Diaries 

New Shows
The Originals, The Tomorrow People, Reign

Held Until Mid-Season
Nikita, Star Crossed, The 100, Famous In 12


Complete Schedule (All times Eastern, New Shows in Capitals)


Monday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: Hart of Dixie (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Beauty And The Beast (New Day) 

Tuesday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: THE ORIGINALS
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Supernatural (New Day)  

Wednesday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: Arrow
9:00-10:00 p.m.: THE TOMORROW PEOPLE 

Thursday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Vampire Diaries
9:00-10:00 p.m.: REIGN
 
Friday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Carrie Diaries (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: America’s Next Top Model

The Originals is a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is a member of the Original Family of vampires and is the original vampire-werewolf hybrid. He returns to the supernatural melting pot of New Orleans when he hears rumours of a plot against him. In the city he encounters his former protégé Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) who wields control over human and supernatural inhabitants of the city. Determined not to answer to Marcel, Klaus together with his brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) are determined to reclaim power in the city that their family helped create. Tensions within the supernatural factions of the city are nearing a breaking point, and Klaus and Elijah make an uneasy alliance with witches lead by the powerful Sophie (Daniella Pineda).

According to some The Tomorrow People are mankind’s next evolutionary step: people with paranormal powers. Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) was an ordinary teen until a year ago. Then he started developing strange abilities like hearing voices and teleporting in his sleep. Listening to one of the voices, he encounters John (Luke Mitchell), Cara (Peyton List) and Russell (Aaron Yoo), the Tomorrow People. Opposing them is Ultra, a paramilitary group of scientists led by Dt. Jedikah Price (Mark Pellegrino) who see the Tomorrow People as a threat to humanity. Determined not to turn his back on humanity or abandon the world of the Tomorrow People, Stephen is determined to find his own way.

Reign is the (very) fictionalized tale of the teenaged Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) and her engagement to Prince Francis of France (Toby Regbo). Arriving in France with four ladies-in-waiting Mary (who had been Queen of Scotland since she was six days old) Mary wants to finalize the strategic alliance between France and Scotland with the arranged marriage between her and Francis (which had been arranged when she was five and he was four). Religion, court intrigue and secret agendas threaten the agreements. Francis is unsure about the Scottish Alliance and has a history with a lady in the French court, and there is Francis’s illegitimate half-brother Bash (Torrance Coombs) who has caught Mary’s eye. And of course there’s Francis’s mother Catherine de Medici (Megan Follows) who has her own agenda.

When an alien spaceship crash landed a fierce battle erupted. In the course of the fighting a six year old Atrian child named Roman hid in a shed where a six year old human girl named Emery protected him and became his friend. That’s the beginning of Star-Crossed. Despite Emery’s efforts Roman is captured and sent to a heavily guarded camp known as The Sector where the Atrians are imprisoned. Now, ten years after the Atrians arrived on Earth a group of Atrian teenagers will be attending a suburban high school, including the now grown Roman (Matt Lanter). One of the human students at the school is a teenaged Emery (Aimee Teegarden) who thought Roman had been killed by the authorities. Their relationship quickly restarts but can it work in a world where both sides have small minded attitudes?

The 100 is a science fiction series with a youth twist. Following nuclear Armageddon on earth the only survivors of humanity are the 400 people on twelve international space stations in orbit at the time. Bringing the stations together they form The Ark. Now 97 years after the original disaster The Ark is ruled with draconian methods including capital punishment and strict population control. One hundred juvenile prisoners are ordered exiled to Earth’s surface to determine whether or not the planet is now habitable. The exiles include Clarke (Eliza Taylor) the daughter of Abby (Paige Turco), The Ark’s Chief Medical Officer, Wells (Eli Goree) who is the son of The Ark’s Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington), daredevil Finn (Thomas McDonnell), and the illegal siblings Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos). The Earth they find is at once magical and deadly, and they must overcome their differences to forge a new path; the fate of the human race depends on them succeeding.

The only real way for me to describe Famous In 12 is to quote from the CW’s press release. “There is a family in the U.S. that has what it takes to become famous - the question is: Can they pull it off in 12 weeks? That's the challenge in the new unscripted series Famous In 12 , a unique social experiment that tracks the lives of one determined family as they move to the entertainment capital of the world - Los Angeles - and seek fame in a 12-week time frame. Members of the family will all have unique and varied talents, and they will each get a series of challenges to create a public profile fit for a Kardashian. The family will be guided by the TMZ machine, which will create a series of opportunities for them. TMZ and Harvey Levin will help, but it is up to the family to pull it off. When they succeed at their challenges, they will appear on the TMZ TV show and TMZ.com, which will raise their profile. Family members will exploit all forms of social media to wage a campaign of fame. In addition to the challenges, the family will circulate day to day... at the gym, restaurants, bars, parties and other places where celebs hang and opportunities call.”

Comments
Say what you want about The CW, they are going outside of what had been their comfort zone. The network was famous for catering to the young female market is making a sharpish turn towards Genre Programming, albeit with a youthful orientation. The Originals is an extension of a successful brand for The CW, being a spin-off of the popular Vampire Diaries series. This would seem to be a natural success for the network…at least by CW standards. Then again Secret Circle had at least tenuous ties to Vampire Diaries and it was cancelled after one season.

The Tomorrow People is an attempt at a second “comic book” show alongside Arrow, although it is vaguely closer to Smallville in that it deals with people with super powers. Actually the closest comparison – and this has the potential to cause some troubles for the producers and the network – is with The X-Men in which you had a group of teens with mutant abilities called by some “homo superior.” Beware if a leader in a wheelchair comes to the fore. Star-Crossed on the other hand has a very obvious progenitor in the works of a writer whose work is long ago in public domain. The show is so obviously using Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as a starting point that even The CW’s own press release is mentioning it. Then too it uses motifs reminiscent of the the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and the Little Rock school integration crisis.

The two shows that interest me the most are The 100 and Reign for entirely different reasons. The 100 is an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic society and the reclaiming of a depopulated Earth. Something similar is being done with the new Will and Jaden Smith movie After Earth. This might have potential or it might sink to the depths of a Terra Nova. Much depends on the approach that is taken by the writers and producers. As for Reign, I have to ask why anyone thought that this was a good idea? I mean admittedly it has the elements of a teen romance novel, but I’m betting that the producers are going to gloss over the facts, namely that Mary was married at 16 and widowed at 18, and that Francis was 14 when they married and was sickly, abnormally short, and stuttered (and was probably incapable of fathering children). One needs dashing figures for this sort of historical romance, while the censors would probably turn a dim eye to a story about a 16 year-old girl bedding a 14 year-old boy. By all rights, I think that The 100 should work (at least by CW standards), and Reign should be an abject failure by anybody’s standards.

Friday, May 17, 2013

CBS’s 2013-14 Schedule

cbslogo200CBS is a network that has the luxury of doing things that other networks wouldn’t do, like cancelling shows that win their time periods because they didn’t win in the “right” way. Which is to say that shows didn’t retain a high enough percentage of the previous show’s audience. Or that the show didn’t draw as big an audience this year as the show in the same time slot did last year…and oh yes CBS cancelled that show last year (in that example I am thinking about the third hour of Tuesday where CBS cancelled Unforgettable last year and then cancelled Golden Boy this year because it didn’t draw as big an audience as Unforgettable did a year ago). As is the case most years, CBS is programming the lowest number of new shows and apparently think that they’re programming the best new shows.

Cancelled
CSI: New York, Golden Boy, Made In Jersey, Jobs, Partners, Rules of Engagement, Vegas

Renewed
How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Survivor, Criminal Minds, CSI, The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men, Elementary, Undercover Boss, Blue Bloods, 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, The Good Wife, The Mentalist

Moved
Person Of Interest, Hawaii Five-0

New Shows
We Are Men, Mom, Hostages, The Millers, The Crazy Ones,

Held Until Mid-Season
Mike & Molly, Reckless, Friends With Better Lives, Intelligence

Complete Schedule (All times Eastern, New Shows in Capitals, except the CSI and NCIS shows)

Monday
8:00-8:30 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9:00 p.m.: WE ARE MEN
9:00-9:30 p.m.: 2 Broke Girls
9:30-10:00 p.m.:  MOM
10:00-11:00 p.m.:  HOSTAGES/ INTELLIGENCE

Tuesday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: NCIS
9:00-10:00 p.m.: NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Person Of Interest (New Day and Time)

Wednesday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: Survivor
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Criminal Minds
10:00-11:00 p.m.: CSI

Thursday
8:00-8:30 p.m.: The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9:00 p.m.: THE MILLERS
9:00-9:30 p.m. THE CRAZY ONES
9:30-10:00 p.m.: Two And A Half Men (New Time)
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Elementary

Friday
8:00-9:00 p.m.: Undercover Boss
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Hawaii Five-0 (New Daw and Time)
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Blue Bloods 

Sunday
7:00-8:00 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8:00-9:00 p.m.: The Amazing Race
9:00-10:00 p.m.: The Good Wife
10:00-11:00 p.m.: The Mentalist

We Are Men is about four guys living in a short term apartment complex. Carter (Chris Smith) is the youngest of the group. He was left at the altar in the middle of the ceremony and is eager to re-enter the dating game. He finds “advice” from the other three men in the group. Frank Russo (Tony Shaloub) is a successful clothing manufacturer…and a four-time divorcee who still considers himself a lady’s man. Gil Bartis (Kal Pen) is a small business owner who was caught having the world’s worst affair. Stuart Strickland (Jerry O’Connell) is an OB/GYN who is hiding assets while waiting for his second divorce to be completed. Jill (Rebecca Breeds) is Frank’s daughter, and the only good thing from his failed relationships.

Mom is the latest series from Chuck Lorre. Anna Faris plays Christy, a newly sober single mom with two kids who works as a waitress at a posh Napa Valley restaurant. She’s four months sober but her efforts to overcome her history of bad choices and be a good mother to her kids is complicated when her mom Bonnie (Allison Janney), herself a recovering alcoholic re-enters her life, full of passive-aggressive insights into all of Christy’s mistakes. She’s just another member of Christy’s dubious support circle, which includes her “16 going on 25 year-old” daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano), her overly honest son Roscoe (Blake Garrett Rosenthal), Christy’s irresponsible ex-husband (and Roscoe’s father) Baxter (Matt Jones), her married boss – and lover – Gabriel (Nate Cordry) and the restaurant’s hot-tempered chef Rudy (French Stewart).

In The Millers Will Arnett is roving news reporter Nathan Miller. Newly divorced he’s looking forward to living the single life, but fate intervenes. After he finally tells his parents about the divorce his father Tom (Beau Bridges) is inspired to leave his wife of 43 years. Nathan’s life is turned upside down when his mother Carol (Margo Martindale) decides to move in with him. Meanwhile absent-minded Tom imposes on Nathan’s sister Debbie, her husband Adam and their daughter Mykayla (Eve Moon). Even Nathan’s cameraman Ray (JB Smoove), who was looking forward to being Nathan’s wingman finds his style cramped by Carol. Nathan and Debbie are left to wonder how long the awkward adjustment phase is going to last, and how to deal with their impossible parents in the meantime.

The Crazy Ones marks Robin Williams’s return to series TV, in a show produced by David E. Kelly. Williams plays Simon Roberts, the head of a powerful ad agency that woks with some of the biggest brands in the world. His biggest thing for him though is that his partner is his daughter Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar). The two are polar opposites; while Simon is unpredictable and given to unorthodox methods, Sydney is focused, organized and eager to make a name for herself. All while parenting her father.

The latest Jerry Bruckheimer series to come to CBS is Hostages. Rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) takes surgeon Ellen Sanders (Toni Collete) and her family captive in their home. Carlisle orders Ellen to kill the President of the United States (James Naughton) when she operates on him in order to save her overbearing husband Brian (Tate Donavon), secretive daughter Morgan (Quinn Shepherd) and not so innocent son Jake (Mateus Ward). Working with Duncan are his brother-in-law Kramer (Rhys Coiro) whose loyalties will be tested, intimidating ex-military man Archer (Billy Brown) and the mysterious last minute replacement Sandrine (Sandrine Holt).

In Intelligence, Gabriel (Josh Hollaway) is the first human to be directly connected to the electronic grid through a super computer chip implanted in his head. he has access to the Internet, wi-fi, telephone and satellite data. He’s an operative of Cybercom, a government agency headed by Director Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger) a straightforward and efficient boss who oversees the unit’s mission. Secret Service agent Riley Neal (Meghan Ory) is assigned to protect Gabriel, not just from foreign threats but from his own appetite for reckless unpredictable behaviour. The designer of the chip is Dr. Shenandoah Cassidy (John Billingsley) whose son Nelson (PJ Byrne) is jealous of the prominent place Gabriel has in his father’s life.

A Southern lawyer from Charleston and a litigator from Chicago must hide their simmering attraction when a police sex scandal threatens to overtake the city in Reckless. Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood) is the cool confident and street-smart Chicago  defense attorney while Roy Rader (Cam Gigandet) is the Charleston-born City Attorney who owes his position to his influential former father-in-law Dec Fortnum (Gregory Harrison). When disgraced former cop Lee Ann Marcus (Georgina Haig) comes to Jamie to ask her to represent her in a lawsuit against the police department, Jamie and Roy soon discover that the case will uncover a sinister case within the police department. The department is headed by Deputy Chief Holland Knox (Michael Gladis) a family man who exudes integrity. But is he what he seems, and are the people around him, including Jamie’s boyfriend Preston Cruz (Adam Rodriguez) implicated in the corruption that is about to come out?

Friends With Better Lives is a new comedy about a group of six friends at various stages of their lives who, while outwardly happy, can’t help but wonder if maybe their friends have it better than they do. Andi (Majandra Delfino) and Bobby (Kevin Conolly) are happily married with two kids…but at time long for the days when they had more fun and less responsibility. Will (James Van Der Beek) is recently divorced and preaching the bachelor lifestyle…but still yearns for his ex-wife. Jules (Brooklyn Decker) and Lowell (Rick Donald) are high on their newly engaged status. Kate (Zoe Lister Jones) is single and has a successful career, but is not going to react well when she discovers that her one remaining single friend, Jules, is engaged.

Comments
The schedule that CBS announced is quite a departure for the network which has generally ignored the ongoing story type series for shows with self-contained episodes. And I think it can be argued that part of the reason for the network’s success in recent years is that model, which allows shows to be repeated, often out of sequence, which has allowed those shows to build audience where shows that have a tight sequential storyline can be repeated as readily. Two of the three dramas that CBS will be debuting this year have that sequential storyline as a key aspect. Admittedly Hostages appears to have been set up as a limited run series – I’m not sure what they can do for an encore after the series completes its run in January or February – but it seems to be a poor way to program a network if one of your big series can’t build on any success it might have. The description of Reckless at least holds a bit of promise beyond the initial storyline of the series. As for Intelligence, it is probably the most self-contained and therefore repeatable of the three dramas, but because of the subject matter it might be difficult to sell to the public who already isn’t in love with midseason series.

The comedies seem to be a mixed bag, which is a bit of a problem since CBS is making a big comedy push this season. The plot summary of We Are Men reminds me of a number of shows including Carpoolers, Welcome To The Captain, and Happy Hour. The common thread is that they were all dreary and they all died quickly. The Millers boasts an incredible cast, in Beau Bridges, Will Arnett and Margo Martindale and because of that it may have a shot but the premise of divorcing parents making their adult kids’ lives hell isn’t necessarily appealing (but remember I’m a guy who at best is lukewarm about comedies). Similarly Mom from Chuck Lorre goes to a pretty dark place and I’m not convinced that the great cast can do anything to make that more appealing. Friends With Better Lives just sounds like a tired concept that we’ve seen done before with a group of friends who are envious of what the others have. The one comedy that I’m interested in is The Crazy Ones, and that is mainly because I’m interested in seeing how Sarah Michelle Gellar will do playing off of Robin Williams. It could be a train wreck – which is what a lot of people commenting about the preview clip on YouTube seem to expect – or it could be great. I’m hoping for great because I think CBS could use some great with this line-up.