Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CBS upfront, take one

The CBS schedule is out, and you can read the full release here. My initial thoughts coming up after the jump...

So, the major changes:
  • "Moonlight" and "Shark" both failed to make the cut among the bubble shows, while "The Unit" did (and is moving to Sundays at 10). When I asked Nina Tassler if the "Jericho" experience had made her gunshy about listening to the, um, vocal fans of fringe shows like that and "Moonlight," she said, "It was a factor, obviously... It was a passionate fanbase, and that's not a bad thing. It's just hard to translate that into numbers."
  • Speaking of "The Unit," Nina said they're going to take the female characters off-base more, and that there won't be quite as much focus on the military missions. Both ideas came from Shawn Ryan and David Mamet, and not from the network, apparently.
  • "How I Met Your Mother" survives and stays where it is; the sense I get is that renewal was never in doubt after the first Britney episode, and that some CBS execs just don't want to announce all their pick-ups ahead of time.
  • "New Adventures of Old Christine" not only survives, but gets to lead off a night, as the network tries, once again, to set up a comedy bloc on Wednesdays. It'll be paired with "Project Gary" (pictured above), with Jay Mohr and the lovely and talented but undeniably show-killing Paula Marshall.
  • "The Ex-List," with Elizabeth Reaser (Jane Doe from "Grey's Anatomy") goes Fridays at 9, which, coincidentally, was the same timeslot (Fridays at 9) for the last show created by Diane Ruggiero, "That's Life." (In between, she was Rob Thomas' lieutenant on "Veronica Mars.") And Simon Baker's new show, "The Mentalist," gets the same timeslot (Tuesdays at 9) as his first CBS show, "The Guardian."
  • Tuesdays at 10 has been a snakebit timeslot ever since "Judging Amy" went away (among its victims was "Smith," featuring Simon Baker and whatever happened to Ray Liotta's face), and so the network's putting old reliable "Without a Trace" there.
  • "Amazing Race" gets two seasons; prepare, once again, for the fall edition to be disrupted a lot by football overruns.
  • "Rules of Engagement" will be back at mid-season.
Beyond that, what strikes me is that, last year at this time, CBS was talking about how they were ready to try new and edgy shows -- a musical! a mob serial! a vampire thriller! a period drama about swingers! -- and this year they've gone back to being CBS. Probably better for everyone; I haven't watched "Swingtown" yet (because of the strike, it won't debut until next month), but "Viva Laughlin," "Cane" and "Moonlight" were all pretty awful.

I'll have a more formalized analysis of all this up hopefully later today. "Reaper" review is going to have to wait, maybe until tomorrow, as I didn't get to see it yet and don't think the computer in our New York office is optimal for streaming video.


Cat Pick said...

Even I, a huge fan of "Moonlight" (well, okay, a huge fan of Alex O'Loughlin) have been very underwhelmed by the post-strike episodes. It fares quite badly compared to the absolute perfection of BSG, I'm afraid. I'm a little sad to see "Moonlight" go because of the eye candy, but I hope this means O'Loughlin (and Jason Dohring and Sophia Myles) gets a vehicle that serves him better.

Cat Pick said...

Oh, and does Paula Marshall get the credit/blame for killing "Shark" with her last couple of guest star appearances?

And does it mean Jay Mohr is leaving "Ghost Whisperer?" He's become just about the only thing worth watching on that show, other than the battling decolletages of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Camryn Manhein, and the fleeting screen moments of David Conrad.

Adam said...


(It's all good. Really. That's all I needed to hear.)

anon said...


Wasn't something called Worst Week also picked up? Or is that a leftover like Swingtown?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Wasn't something called Worst Week also picked up?

Yup. Airing after Two and a Half Men.

Kristen said...

Jane Doe from Grey's is Ave, right? I guess she won't be back?

renton said...

Why can't we get Paula Marshall cast on According to Jim?

It would be like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

Karen said...

Man, I'm with Renton. I would love to see Marshall unleash her show-killing power for good.

Alan, I'm so happy to hear you diss "Moonlight." I've been perplexed by the passion of its fans, since it's so clearly a badly-written and worse-acted show (when even the superb Jason Dohring is laying an egg, it's got to mean problems). Since you have such excellent taste (which means, you know, that you agree with me), it's good to get the affirmation.

Although I'm sorry you couldn't acquire a taste for "Gossip Girl." I still think you could have if you'd read Jacob's TWoP recaps!

Stef said...

I really wanted to like Moonlight. Jason Dohring is awesome, as Karen said above, and I really like vampires. (As a subject matter. Not, you know, for real.) But after giving it a 2-episode try I just couldn't take it. The writing, acting, pacing - all of it just made it unbearable. It's no Buffy, not even an Angel, so I prefer to keep those memories.

Although, I'm not ashamed to admit that I actually really enjoy "The New Adventures of Old Christine." I think JLD is so appealing, and it's good to see her play a neurotic, approachable, very real-seeming character. We're not all perfect, and that's what Christine is all about.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain why Jason Dohring is awesome? I thought his acting on VM was cartoonishly bad. Of course, I hated the show in general, but I could at least see that Kristen Bell was talented. Doring, though? Not so much.

Mo Ryan said...

Why can't we get Paula Marshall cast on According to Jim?

It would be like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

I vote for Renton getting to be in charge of all television.

I've given Moonlight so many chances. Why??? I wanted to find something to like in it but every time I gave it a chance it was Matlock with fangs.

Nicole said...

I've watched a lot of vampire cop shows and Moonlight was the worst of them. It might have had better production values compared to Blood Ties or Forever Knight, but its biggest mistake was that it was making up its vampire rules as it went along, the biggest copout being the one where he could be in the daylight and not get crispy.

I also didn't care about the romance and got confused because I thought the reporter's boyfriend was killed and then he returned as a lawyer, or was replaced by someone who looked just like him.

Anyway, I concur that it paled in comparison when viewed along with BSG. And I was not impressed with JD this time around. I got caught up in the Veronica - Logan stuff, but he couldn't pull off the ancient vampire thing. And I have to admit that learning he was into scientology also decreased my interest in him.

Kendra said...

I am clearly in the minority for Moonlight, but since my Friday nights have been spent homebound, I will admit to getting sucked into it.

The "rules" were very confusing, since I loved Angel and Buffy, it just seemed so wrong!!! But it did give me some entertainment.

Also it is being reported that CW is looking at it for Sunday nights, even though it was bad it still had higher numbers than Gossip Girl.

Here is the link about the possible pick up

It is about half way down the page.

Kendra said...

Whoops forgot to ask the most important question:

Alan, when are you going to start season 1 of the Wire?

I have been holding on to my Netflix for months now.


fuzzydunlop said...

I've given Moonlight so many chances. Why??? I wanted to find something to like in it but every time I gave it a chance it was Matlock with fangs.

If CBS had promoted the show as "Matlock...with fangs!" I would have watched every single episode.

Mo Ryan said...

I think I just insulted Matlock with that comparison.

And I fully admit if I found Alex O'Loughlin appealing I might have been willing to overlook the show's overt reliance on cheese. Couldn't do it.

Mrglass said...

Moonlight was usually like one of the worst episodes of Angel. Never saw the point of that show, or why it was on CBS.

It had exactly one good episode ("Fever") in its run; I don't understand the rabid fanbase.

Adam said...

What ever happened to the Titus Pullo/Amber Tamblyn zombies in Long Island show?

Amanda said...

Shark pretty much totally sucked on all levels except intermittantly the leads' acting but I watched it anyway.

Now we will never find out if that scallywag Trevor breaks Julie's heart. Oh noes!

Gish said...


That was a pilot from last year called Babylon Fields, I believe. Really good pilot, but by the end you could see that it wouldn't hold up long as a series. Way better than the first Moonlight pilot, but I think they made the right choice.

dez said...

I've given Moonlight so many chances. Why??? I wanted to find something to like in it but every time I gave it a chance it was Matlock with fangs.

Now all I can picture is Grampa Simpson with his denture-fangs falling out of his mouth.

@renton--you're a genius :-)

denis said...

Doesn't The Mentalist's premise seem way to close to Psych. I would guess it won't be as light hearted (it'd be tough to more light hearted).

I'll give it a try due to the cast though.

Anonymous said...

Is Marley Shelton being dumped from Eleventh Hour? Her name isn't on the press release.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, It's hard to watch a season of TAR because it ruins whatever else you want to watch. Plus, my DVR always messes up recording it. I usually just skip it and that's a shame b/c I used to love that show. You brought up "Judging Amy"...that show was awesome. If HIMYM was canned....I think I'd have to kill some CBS execs. And I'm 100% serious. I'm still not feeling Old Christine...I think I'm one of those people that can't imagine Seinfeld-alum in anything but Seinfeld. Even 12 yrs after it's been gone, I still watch more Seinfeld than anything else...ya know, TBS reruns, syndication on local nets, and the DVDs. One last thing....If you ever remind me of the time I sat down and watch "Viva Laughlin" again....I may kill myself. I'll never get those 43 minutes back. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Not one person of color in the lead of a major network show.

So, we can have diversity in our Presidential candidates but not on TV.