Thursday, May 17, 2012

CBS’s 2012-13 Season

cbslogo200CBS announced their new Fall lineup on Tuesday morning. The network, which is dominant in the overall ratings has offered up an interesting mix of new shows and the transfer of two major series to new nights and times. The new line-up manages to near impossible task of being both adventurous and conservative at the same time.

Cancelled: CSI: Miami, A Gifted Man, How To Be A Gentleman, NYC 22, Rob, Unforgettable

Moved: Two And A Half Men, CSI: New York, The Mentalist, 2 Broke Girls

Renewed: How I Met Your Mother, Mike & Molly, Hawaii Five-0, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Survivor, Criminal Minds, CSI, The Big Bang Theory, Person Of Interest, Blue Bloods, Amazing Race, The Good Wife

New: Partners, Vegas, Elementary, Made In New Jersey

Held Until Mid-Season: Golden Boy, Friend Me, Undercover Boss, The Job

Fate Unknown: Rules Of Engagement

Complete Schedule (all times are Eastern; New shows – except CSI and NCIS) in capitals

8:00-8:30 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9:00 p.m.: PARTNERS
9:00-9:30 p.m.: 2 Broke Girls (New Time)
9:30-10:00 p.m.: Mike & Molly
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Hawaii Five-0

8:00-9:00 p.m.: NCIS
9:00-10:00 p.m.: NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00-11:00 p.m.: VEGAS

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

8:00-8:30 p.m.: The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9:00 p.m.: Two And A Half Men (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Person Of Interest
10:00-11:00 p.m.: ELEMENTARY

8:00-9:00 p.m.: CSI: New York (New Time)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: MADE IN NEW JERSEY
10:00-11:00 p.m.: Blue Bloods

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 (New Day)

Partners looks at two lifelong best friends and business partners whose relationship is on the verge of changing. Joe (David Krumholtz) is an accomplished architect who leads with his head not his heart. He’s newly engaged to Ali (Sophia Bush) a beautiful and talented jewelry designer. His partner Louis (Michael Urie) is gay, spontaneous, emotional and prone to exaggerating. Louis is dating Wyatt (Brandon Routh) a vegan nurse who Louis claims is just one promotion shy of being a doctor. The question is how Joe and Louis's business and personal relationship change with the inclusion of these two important new relationships.

CBS enters into period drama with their new series Vegas. A fictionalized version of the career of Ralph Lamb who was Clark County Sheriff from 1961-1979, a time when Las Vegas was experiencing tremendous growth. Lamb (Dennis Quaid) is a fourth generation rancher who just wants to be left alone to run his place. The problem is that the city is expanding and because the city was – at the time – the only place to gamble in the United States, corruption was becoming an issue. When a casino worker is murdered, the mayor of Las Vegas remembers that Lamb commanded a Military Police unit during World War II and appeals to his sense of duty to get him to look into the case. This brings him into conflict with Chicago mobster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) who wants to make Las Vegas his own. Lamb is assisted by two deputies, his diplomatic, even-keeled brother Jack (Jason O’Mara) and his charming, impulsive son Dixon (Taylor Handley), as well as by ambitious Assistant District Attorney Katherine O’Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) who grew up on a ranch next to the Lambs. (The real Ralph Lamb is still alive at age 85. In fact, when he learned that the show had been picked up he called a friend of his who was in Italy – Dennis Quaid.)

Elementary is an American take on modernizing the Sherlock Holmes character. The following is from the official CBS press release (although I am adding the actor names) simply because I’m afraid I might get satirical. “Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu). A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance. However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients. He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he's devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs. But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock's police contact, Capt. Tobias "Toby" Gregson (Aidan Quinn), knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team. With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crimes, it's simple deduction that he's going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it's elementary that it's a job for Watson.”

Janet Montgomery plays Martina Garretti in the new series Made In Jersey. Martina comes from a working class New Jersey family and at first glance wouldn’t seem to fit in with the Ivy League educated lawyers at the prestigious New York law firm where she works. However what she lacks in the prestige of her education she more than makes up for with her tenacity and blue collar insight. These qualities plus her ingenuity and resourcefulness get her noticed by the firm’s founder Donavon Stark (Kyle MacLachlin) as well as by her secretary Cyndi Vega (Toni Trucks). With the support of her family including her sister Bonnie (Erin Cummings) she’s able to maintain her New Jersey roots even in the intimidating environment of her New York law firm.

Golden Boy is the saga of the rise of an ambitious young cop to become the youngest Police Commissioner in New York history. While being interviewed about his rise to the top job Walter William Clark Jr. (Theo James) flashes back to his early days on the job. After just three years on the job Clark is able to be promoted to Detective on the Homicide Squad. He’s disappointed to be teamed with veteran Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride) who is just two years shy of retirement. He’d rather be teamed with the “alpha dog” on the squad, Detective First Grade Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro), a cop who is just as ambitious as Walter but without a moral center. Also on the squad are Arroyo’s partner Detective Deborah McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville) a third generation cop who is also the only woman on the squad, and Detective Joe Diacco (Holt McCallany) who is well-connected with tremendous resources. Walter is determined to succeed as quickly as possible and bases his career decisions on that need. In fact the only distraction from this goal is his role as the sole caregiver and support of his sister Agnes (Stella Maeve), a teenager exhibiting increasingly dangerous behaviour.

Friend Me looks at friendship in the age of instant communications. Rob (Nicholas Braun) and Evan (Christopher Mintz-Plass) are two twenty-something guys from Indiana who move to Los Angeles to start cool new jobs. Evan is content to stay at home, web chatting and playing poker online, with his Indiana friends Mike (Darveesh Cheena), Sully (Tim Robinson), and Farhad (Dan Ahdoot) just a mouse click away. Rob however wants to meet people who aren’t just staring down at their smart phones and laptops and so, despite Evan’s warnings that nothing good can come of it, puts up a flyer seeking new friends at a local coffee shop. Some of the replies have potential while others are just disturbing. Suddenly Rob and the reluctant Evan are embarking on a series of the most epic adventures and disasters of their lives.

The Job is the latest reality series from Mark Burnett. Each week new candidates are chosen from across the country for the chance to win their dream job at one of America’s leading company. Lisa Ling hosts and leads the prospects through a number of challenges, from a spot quiz to assess their knowledge of the company to deadline driven tasks while they spend time on the job. In addition there is a rival company waiting to steal any of the contenders with a job offer. When that happens the contender must decide immediately whether or not to take the offer from the rival company or to stay on and try for their once in a lifetime job.

CBS is in the amazing position where there are few shows that they really needed to cancel. The biggest example of this was probably Unforgettable. If that series had been on any of the three major networks it would still be on the air. After all it won its timeslot handily most weeks. On CBS it was expendable, along with a long-in-the-tooth series with a sometime problem star (CSI: Miami and David Caruso) and a couple of legitimate failures (A Gifted Man, How To Be A Gentleman). They can afford to move not one but two of their biggest shows to shore up weak spots.

For me the new CBS series are a bit of a mixed bag. I think Partners is right in the network’s wheelhouse when it comes to comedies, and should slide in between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls like it was built for the timeslot. Similarly I like how when they decided to do a period series it wasn’t about an airline in 1963 or a nightclub with an iconic name, it is a procedural. Vegas is another show that fits what the network has been doing for years. My only quibble is whether it should be on Tuesday night or should have been saved for Thursdays. Finally Made In Jersey fits the CBS approach to Friday like a glove. They have always gone for at least one show that has the potential to draw a female audience. A Gifted Man may have failed but it follows in a line that included Ghost Whisperer, Joan of Arcadia, Close To Home and Moonlight (a show that wouldn’t have been cancelled if anyone at CBS had foreseen the “Vampire” fad that has emerged in the past few years, but that’s irrelevant now).

Not that I think it’s all perfect at CBS. I have great concerns over Sherlock. Admittedly I’m a bit of a “Holmes purist,” but the description from the network gives me the willies…and not in a good way. It seems too “flip” and irreverent. I want to be wrong, but in this case I’m not sure if viewers are going to buy into this in the long run.I’m afraid that in audience terms it might turn out to be more like a previous occupant of the third hour on Thursday nights, The Eleventh Hour, a show that I really liked personally but which didn’t take off with the mass audience. I also have some concerns, although not as grave, about the mid-season show Golden Boy. It will probably work, but the description comes off a bit like a standard procedural wrapped with the gimmick from How I Met Your Mother; a weir mix to say the least.

This is exactly the sort of line-up I expect from CBS. They’re building on their strengths, and when they take chances the chances they take aren’t too radical. And of course this is because they don’t have to take radical chances. As the man said, it is good to be king.


Linda said...

Heh! When they advertised they were doing an American version of Sherlock I said, "I bet Watson is a woman." Bingo! Of course this isn't a new concept; They Might Be Giants and The Return of the World's Greatest Detective both used the idea. And wasn't there a children's book takeoff on Holmes where the main boy character's "Watson" was a girl?

Brent McKee said...

It's a typical American "fix" of something that's not broken. It's the networks way of avoiding charges of a homoerotic relationship from ignorant people who have never read the Holmes stories and see two unrelated men living together and automatically assume they're Gay. Not only does CBS avoid the "homoerotic" charge but they get the "unresolved sexual tension" card to play.

Once I get done with the my Upfront posts (I've still got The CW, a day to day comparison, and a trailer clip post to do) and recover from my exhaustion in doing this, I'm thinking of bringing together all of the comments I've gotten for the Upfronts (except the spam comment for The Hopper PVR that I got for the ABC post) and answer them in a post.

Todd Mason said...

Well, of course, today in the Real US and environs, increasingly we see extended-period same-gender roommates...and, increasingly among the young, less worry about homosexuality. (Hell, I live platonically with a woman who owns the house.)

Even going back to the '60s, Keith Robertson's YA novels about Henry Reed and Midge Glass employed a male-female Holmes/Watson dynamic (and essentially a platonic one), even though Reed and Glass were more evenly matched (as has also been the post-Doyle very least, the latter-day Watson tends to be the one to pull the Holmes's iron out of some fires he's too unconventional/unconcerned to care about).