Every year, the upfront presentations have a different theme. Ok, so that's not always the case, but it would be pretty cool if it was, right? This year, however, there definitely seems to be a theme emerging. NBC's presentation in April, which seemed to be heralding in an era of change, proved to be a red herring. As this week has shown us, the theme this year is not change. It is stability.
For CBS, leader in overall viewers for the past several seasons (although it is being challenged by Fox in that category this year), sticking with the status quo makes sense. Due to that fact, there was very little up in the air prior to this year's upfront presentation. The big questions going into yesterday were: which CBS bubble sitcoms would find a home on the network's designated comedy block on Monday nights, and would cult favorite "Moonlight
" live to see the light of day (or night, rather) for another year?
Answers to those questions (and several more) were provided in full yesterday. Probably the biggest news, if it could really be called news, is that CBS has decided to expand its roster of sitcoms. In the fall, they will be adding an hour of funny stuff on Wednesday to compliment the previously designated Monday night comedy block. This is good news for fans of the best sitcom on network TV ("How I Met Your Mother
"), and the two lesser comedies that were also on the bubble (mediocre "Rules of Engagement
" and below average "New Adventures of Old Christine
"). All will be back.
Unfortunately for fans of "Moonlight," it will not. The vampire/private investigator series, which was never able to live up to the two shows that it ripped off ("Angel
" and "Forever Knight"), is nevertheless fiercely beloved by a small but passionate fanbase. CBS execs better watch out if fans decide to stage a follow up to last years "Jericho
" Peanut Offensive. With blood as the protest object of choice, things could get a bit messy.
Monday Nights will be almost unchanged next season. The two hour comedy block will kick off with "The Big Bang Theory
" and "How I Met Your Mother" (once again, can we get a hallelujah), followed by television's #1 rated sitcom, "Two and a Half Men
." The sole change on the night will be in the 9:30 slot, where new comedy "Worst Week" will take up residence. The relationship comedy looks unimpressive and dull, with its sole saving grace being that Kurtwood Smith
is a member of the cast. It's been a long two years since Kurty was last seen in a regular role on the small screen - two years too long. David Caruso
and his sunglasses still hang out at 10 as "CSI: Miami
" will continue to anchor the night.
Tuesday nights will be the place for older skewing, tedious procedural dramas, same as always. "NCIS
" will lead off the night, followed by new series "The Mentalist." It's about a detective who solves crimes using the power of his mind! He'll be the new role model that parents use when trying to get their kids to eat their leafy greens. "Little Davey, if you don't eat your spinach, then you will never become a mentalist like the guy on that boring new CBS show." That's exactly what parents everywhere will be saying, just wait. Ten o'clock will belong to the transplanted hit series "Without a Trace
," which has shown the ability to thrive pretty much anywhere.
An hour of comedy will greet viewers on Wednesday. Previously mentioned "New Adventures of Old Christine" will be paired with a new family sitcom called "Project Gary," starring Jay Mohr
. When will the networks learn that no one wants to see a show starring Jay Mohr? Hopefully after this one gets canceled. Hit procedurals "Criminal Minds
" and "CSI: NY
" will retain their respective Wednesday night timeslots.
Thursday nights will once more be home to "Survivor
," still the best reality show on TV, and "CSI
," still going strong heading into its ninth season. CBS all but reclaimed Thursday nights this season from ABC and will hope to continue that dominance next year. Which show receives the plum post-"CSI" slot in 08-09? That would be "Eleventh Hour," a procedural focusing on crimes of a scientific nature. Honestly though, it doesn't matter what the show is about. Even Jay Mohr could succeed in that timeslot.
Friday night staples "Ghost Whisperer
" and "Numb3rs
" will return at 8 and 10, respectively. Sandwiched in between them is new series "The Ex List," about a woman looking for her soulmate. Doesn't exactly mesh with the other two shows on the night, but like with the post-"CSI" slot, content doesn't matter. Only difference is that shows in the Friday 9pm slot don't thrive, they wither and die.
Saturday night isn't even worth discussing, so we won't waste anymore time on it.
Sunday leads off with "60 Minutes," followed by "The Amazing Race
" and "Cold Case
." Nothing new there. The 10 p.m. hour will be the new home to "The Unit
," which was thought to be a goner. Guess what, it's not! Dennis Haysbert
More of the Same
CBS, as expected, didn't change a whole lot. That makes a great deal of sense given the network's recent dominance Still, The Eye is an older skewing network, and they didn't do a whole lot to get younger. More tepid procedurals certainly aren't the answer to that problem, but then again tepid procedurals are CBS' trademark. Quite a catch-22, eh? It would have been nice to see them take a few chances, but their reluctance to do so is understandable.
It will be interesting to see how long this current model continues to work for CBS. The nature of the industry is changing, whether old school execs like it or not, and eventually they will have to change with it. Seems like CBS staved off any growth for another year. Guess only time will tell how that decision will work out.
Overall Grade: B+ (Major bonus points received for giving a full season order to "How I Met Your Mother," although it shouldn't have been considered a bubble show in the first place!)
Happy with the new CBS schedule? Upset with the cancellations of "Moonlight" and "Shark
?" Enjoy any of CBS' procedurals and want to defend them? Leave a comment!
-CW Announces Schedule for 2009-09 Season
-ABC Stresses Stability, Not Ingenuity, With 2008-09 Schedule
-NBC Takes A Chance With 2009-09 Schedule, Year-Round Programming
Story by Derek Krebs
Starpulse contributing writer