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Upfronts 2012: CBS Thinks It's Elementary that the BBC/PBS "Sherlock" Is Too Smart for Mainstream America

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 16, 2012 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 16, 2012 |

( … Sadly, CBS is probably right.)

According to a recent story in the Hollywood Reporter: “CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves, ever the optimist, noted during a May 1 earnings call that the network is looking to win the season among total viewers by the biggest margin since the dawn of the modern ratings system 25 years ago.” It’s good to have modest goals! Of course, it helps that CBS is a ratings machine at this point. Just look at all the renewals:

Renewed. “2 Broke Girls,” “48 Hours Mystery,” “60 Minutes,” “The Amazing Race,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Blue Bloods,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: New York,” “The Good Wife,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Mentalist,” “Mike & Molly,” “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA,” “Person of Interest,” “Survivor,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Undercover Boss.”

Meanwhile, only a handful of shows had to be given their walking papers:

Cancelled. “CSI: Miami,” “A Gifted Man,” “How to be a Gentleman,” “NYC 22,” “Rob” and “Unforgettable.” You may have heard that Patrick Wilson, star of “A Gifted Man,” took to the twitters after finding out about the cancellation via e-mail. First he tweeted: “So…shocking to no one: #agiftedman is done.Found out via email…and not from the network.Stay classy.Thanks to AGM fans! Great cast/crew!” And he followed that with: “Thanks for the AGM love…but now that it’s ‘official,’ I couldn’t be happier. As good as it was(sometimes) it was not what I signed on for.” I’m guessing we won’t be seeing Wilson on another CBS show anytime soon. As for the cancellation of “CSI: Miami,” well I guess you could say that it’s just a matter of … shit, I got no Caruso-ism to end that with, damn it. YEAH!

(Commentors, don’t let me down — give us some good Caruso lines to speak to the cancellation of “CSI: Miami.”)

Despite so many renewals and so few cancellations, CBS still picked up seven new shows. And the fate of “Rules of Engagement” remained undecided. Yes, that show is still on the air. Or at least, it was. Is it still? Let’s see.

Mondays. Mondays start off with the stale “How I Met Your Mother,” which leads into the new “Partners.” At 9, it’s a new home and timeslot for the atrocious “2 Broke Girls,” followed by “Mike & Molly.” And then at 10, it’s “Hawaii Five-0.” Did you know that “Hawaii Five-0” is the top-rated drama out of the various dramas that air at 10 p.m.? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, the new “Partners” is CBS’ lone new fall comedy and stars David Krumholtz, which is a good thing. It’s about two architects, one who’s gay (Michael Urie, “Ugly Betty”) and one who’s straight (Krumholtz). The straight one “leads with his head and not his heart” while the gay one “is spontaneous, emotional and prone to exaggeration.” It sounds like the perfectly awful comedy to lead in to “2 Broke Girls,” right? CBS will defend any claims that the show plays into stereotypes with the argument that it’s based on the lives of its two creators, who created “Will and Grace,” so the stereotypes are ok. That’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t make the worth a damn. Nor does the fact that it also stars Brandon Routh and Sophia Bush.

So yeah, there’s that.

Tuesdays. From 8 to 10, the schedule remains the same with “NCIS” leading in to “NCIS: Los Angeles.” At 10, CBS launches the new “Vegas,” which stars Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, which is a pretty good start for any show. As an aside, I have a buddy from back home whose only care about the fact that I live in LA is that I should meet Chiklis and tell him how much my buddy loves him — it hasn’t happened yet, but if it ever does, it’s going to be awkward. Consider yourself warned, Mr. Chiklis. Anyway, “Vegas” is set in the 1960s in Portland, Oregon.

That’s be awesome, wouldn’t it? Yeah, no, it’s set in Vegas and is about a former cowboy/rancher who’s become the local sheriff. That sounds like a role right in Quaid’s wheelhouse, so good thing he’s playing Sherff Ralph Lamb. Because it’s in the 60’s, it’s all about the corruption and gangsters that have been taking over Vegas, said takeover being led by Vincent Savino (Chiklis), a Chicago gangster. The show also stars Jason O’Mara and Carrie-Anne Moss, and color me fucking intrigued.

I’m a little less intrigued, and definitely skeptical, but I’m gonna give it an open-minded shot anyways.

Wednesdays. Wednesdays offer no change whatsoever. “Survivor” leads in to “Criminal Minds” leads in to “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Nothing new here, nothing to see, move on.

Thursdays. Thursdays still lead off with “The Big Bang Theory.” Did you notice that “Two and Half Men” isn’t on Monday anymore? That’s cause it’s on Thursday at 8:30,” leading in to “Person of Interest” at 9. Finally, at 10, it’s the new “Elementary.” You’ve all surely heard about “Elementary,” which is the other modernization of Sherlock Holmes, with Jonny Lee Miller playing Holmes and Lucy Liu playing Joan Watson. It’s set in New York, and why a Scotland Yard consultant works with the NYPD? I dunno — let’s see if Benedict Cumberbatch can solve that riddle. If it wasn’t for the outstanding “Sherlock” (which ends its second season here in the states on Sunday with a fantastic episode), I’d be down for this show, especially because I love Miller. But now, I now we’re just going to be getting a typical CBS procedural with the shell of Sherlock Holmes around it, and Miller and Liu are no Cumberbatch and Freeman. So phooey.

Oh, and the press release gives us this line in summation: “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.” So double phooey.

So yeah. It doesn’t look terrible but still, it sits in the shadow of the BBC version. Let’s look at the real modern-day Sherlock Holmes, shall we, in this preview for the upcoming final Series 2 episode, “The Reichenbach Fall.”

Much better. Seriously, go catch up with the first season (it’s only three episodes, so it’s like three great little movies), which I believe is on Netflix, and then go catch up with the current season on PBS’ website. Get on board. (And some people seem to dislike this version of Moriarty, but I love him.)

Fridays. CBS has moved the aging “CSI: NY” over to Friday, hoping that it will be a good lead in for the new “Made In Jersey” and that, with “Blue Bloods” at 9, CBS can claim Friday ratings all for itself, for whatever the Friday ratings are worth. The new “Made in Jersey,” the last of CBS’ new fall dramas, is. yet. another. fucking law show. This one stars Janet Montgomery, who at least is very attractive and a pretty solid actress (I know her best from an episode of the UK “Skins,” but she was also in the mucked-up second season of “Human Target” and had a run in “Entourage”). Montgomery is a Jersey-born blue collar type who didn’t go to an Ivy League school, but is now working at a fancy New York law firm run by Kyle MacLachlan and blah blah blah fuck. This show may be good. It may be great (unlikely, but still). But I’ll never know because, working in a big fancy law firm, I have zero desire to watch this show.

Bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurgh. This feels like it will fit right in with CBS’ schedule. By which I mean, bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurgh.

Saturdays. Two hours of CBS’ “crimetime” programming (i.e., reruns of its crime procedurals) lead in to “48 Hours Mystery” at 10. Lovely.

Sundays. After lovely, lovely football, which always throws off the time of CBS’ shows on the East Coast, it’s “60 Minutes” at 7ish, “The Amazing Race” at 8ish, “The Good Wife” at 9ish, and “The Mentalist” in its new home at 10ish.

Midseason Filler. CBS has three shows in its midseason coffers, a comedy, a drama and a reality show. The comedy … ugh. “Friend Me” features Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who I’ve been done with since about 2008. The premise? Rob (Mintz-Plasse) and buddy Evan (Nicholas Braun) move from Indiana to LA to start working for Groupon. Yup, that doesn’t do a god damned thing to get me over my done-ness with Mintz-Plasse. And CBS didn’t release any video, so that’s all we have to go on. No thanks.

As for the drama, “Golden Boy” is about a young man’s quick ascent from a 26-year-old uniformed cop to a 34-year-old police commissioner. Aside from the fact that it co-stars the awesome Chi McBride, stuff this show. And again, no video. Ditto for CBS’ midseason reality show, “The Job.” Mark Burnett is one of the producers of this show, where “talented candidates are chosen from across the country for a chance to win their dream job at one of America’s most prestigious companies.” Meh.

Finally, remember how we said the only unresolved question was the fate of “Rules of Engagement?” Well, it remains unresolved. head of CBS entertainment, Nina Tassler, claims that “we’re still discussing, haven’t made a decision yet.” I kinda think the non-decision is a decision, right? Right.

I’ll leave you with this video I found while looking for a clip of “Sherlock,” just because. (All the clips come from Series 1, so no spoilers for the upcoming Season 2 finale.)

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

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