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Upfronts 2011: CBS, Same As It Ever Was

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 18, 2011 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 18, 2011 |

CBS had quite a few flops last year, with the now-canceled “Chaos,” “The Defenders,” “$#*! My Dad Says,” “Mad Love,” and “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” turds one and all (“Medium” was also axed). And yet, it still walks out of the season as the number one network, a title it’s held for 8 of the past 9 years. It’s good to be the king, and when your shit is working, you don’t change it up much. Sure, there are a few schedule changes and a handful of new shows (3 new dramas, two new comedies, and one midseason show). But not a whole lot of surprises with 19 returning shows (and with this scheduling announcement, “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” and “CSI: Miami” got the official renewals we all expected they were going to get) mostly keeping their old timeslots.

(Unlike our earlier Upfronts columns this week, there are no clips here because CBS still hasn’t released clips. Stupid CBS.)

Mondays. “How I Met Your Mother” leads the night off at 8, and CBS will try to use the tired show’s still solid ratings to try to launch the new “2 Broke Girls.” That’ll be followed by the “Ashton Kutcher Show” “Two and a Half Men,” “Mike & Molly” and “Hawaii Five-0.” So aside from trying to launch a new comedy and the Ashton-instead-of-Sheen thing, it’s business as usual on Mondays.

“2 Broke Girls,” the new comedy, stars Kat Dennings. Say no more, say no more, I will absolutely try out a comedy with Kat Dennings. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be good — with Sarah Chalke, Judy Greer and Tyler Labine, “Mad Love” should’ve killed and I honestly don’t think I laughed once during that show’s entire run (and yes, I watched the entire run, so deep is my love for that trio).

Anyway, “2 Broke Girls.” It’s a comedy about … two broke girls. Dennings and Beth Behrs play two waitresses who become unlikely friends and hope to raise start-up money to put together a cupcake company. Doesn’t sound like an Earth-shattering premise, but if it’s funny, who cares. Here’s hoping it’s funny, because I want Dennings on a funny sitcom, damn it. I didn’t know I wanted that until right this moment, but I do. Very much so.

Tuesdays. “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” back to back, because why have one Naval Crime Investigative Service when you can have two? Still haven’t watched a minute of either of these, but here they are. At 10, it’s the new “Unforgettable.”

Poppy Montogmery. That’s a real person’s name. According to her IMDB page, she been in quite a few things (particularly as a regular on “Without a Trace”). And she’s very pretty:


Doesn’t change the fact that she’s got a supremely silly name. A name that one might say is … “Unforgettable.”

Shut up, I’m tired.

Anyway, “Unforgettable” stars Ms. Montgomery as a former-cop-now-cop-consultant who has some type of brain condition that makes her unable to forget anything. A photographic memory complete with smells and emotions and all that, both good and bad. So it’s basically the one of two recipes CBS has for its procedurals — take a person with some quirk that makes them uniquely genius at solving crimes, and have them go solve crimes with normal cop-types. It also stars Dylan Walsh and Kevin Rankin among others and certainly fits right into CBS’ wheelhouse. If it’s competent, it’ll wind up having a good 4-7 year run.

Wednesdays. As it’s been for the last few years, Wednesday night is “Survivor” night (congrats to Boston Rob, by the by — that was a hell of a game he played). Then it’s “Criminal Minds” followed by one of the few surprises on the new CBS schedule, “CSI,” which gets kicked out of its Thursday night home, presumably because its ratings have started to slip.

Thursdays. America loves nerds, so it’s “The Big Bang Theory” kicking things off. Then it’s a new comedy at 8:30, “How to Be a Gentleman,” followed by a new drama, “Person of Interest” at 9. “The Mentalist” caps the evening off.

“How to Be a Gentleman” is based on a book by the same name and stars Dave Foley (good!) and Kevin Dillon (bad!) and David Hornsby (whodat?!). It … does not sound good. It’s like a reverse “Pygmalion,” described thusly by the the press release:

Andrew Carlson (David Hornsby) is an etiquette columnist whose devotion to ideals from a more civilized time has lead to a life detached from modern society. Infectiously optimistic, Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon) is a reformed “bad boy” from Andrew’s past who inherited a fitness center, but can still be rude, loud and sloppy. When Andrew’s editor, Jerry (Dave Foley), tells him to put a modern, sexy twist on his column or be fired, he hires Bert as a life coach in the hopes of learning to be less “gentle man” and more “real man.” … Though Andrew and Bert’s views may be centuries apart, they may find they’re each other’s missing link.


“Person of Interest” is what I would’ve expected to be the other CBS-procedural-by-recipe. A tight-knit investigatory team that has a particular specialty or niche. Instead, it’s something a bit different. It stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson and Taraji P. Henson, which is a pretty solid cast for a procedural. Sorry, CBS calls it a “crime thriller.” So Caviezel plays a former CIA agent who’s presumed dead. He teams up with a software genius billionaire (Emerson) who has a fancy program that is like Minority Report, identifying a “person of interest” before they commit the crime. They then go vigilante-ish, trying to stop the crime before it happens. Henson is a cop who realizes something hinky is going on. J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan are two of the exec producers (CBS says that the show isn’t really a “J.J.” show though, and that it was pitched and created by Nolan). While CBS says it’s the highest testing pilot they’ve had in a decade, that really doesn’t mean anything, but I’m intrigued enough to at least check this out.

Fridays. The last of CBS’ new shows, “A Gifted Man” leads off the evening, followed by “CSI: NY” and “Blue Bloods.”

The only thing that interests me about “A Gifted Man” is that it stars Patrick Wilson. That’s great. The premise, “a drama about a brilliant, charismatic surgeon whose life changes forever when his deceased ex-wife begins teaching him the meaning of life from the ‘hereafter,’” not so great. Actually, I’m also interested by the fact that it also stars Margo Marrtindale, who just killed it on this last season of “Justified.” But it also sounds hokey and terrible and considering it’s CBS at 8 on Friday, I suspect it’s going to have far too much saccharine for my liking.

Saturdays. And here is the last of the CBS’ few surprises — “Rules of Engagement” has been exiled to Saturday at 8, followed by comedy repeats at 8:30, drama repeats at 9, and “48 Hours Mystery” at 10. CBS admits that they have pretty low ratings expectations for “Rules,” and this is really just about syndication rights at this point.

Sundays. You ever wonder how Andy Rooney isn’t dead yet? His body must just live off of dumb and anger at this point. All of which is to say, “60 Minutes” is on at 7, followed by “The Amazing Race” at 8. Then “The Good Wife” gets a new night/time, and “CSI: Miami” closes things out.

Midseason Fillers. CBS only has two commited shows on the shelf for midseason, “Undercover Boss” and the new “The 2-2,” which was formerly called “Rookies” and is produced by De Niro and some other dude. It’s about a bunch of NYPD rookies, and stars Leelee Sobieski and Adam Goldberg among others. I despise Adam Goldberg and have already given him one pass for a cop show (the surprisingly good, but terribly rated “The Unusuals”), so this show can suck it.

And that’s the Eye’s new schedule. If video clips/trailers for the new shows show up later, we’ll try to get them up for you.

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Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.