Monday, December 11, 2006

How CBS missed its big chance

Today's column, expanding on my love of "How I Met Your Mother" and my feeling that CBS should have given it, and not "Criminal Minds," the post-Super Bowl slot:
A week ago, CBS announced that an episode of "Criminal Minds" would get the primo post-Super Bowl time period. And why not? "Criminal Minds," in spite of reviews that compare it (sometimes unfavorably) to a snuff film, has been the season's biggest growth story, edging perilously close to timeslot rival "Lost" in the 18-49 demographic and occasionally passing it in total viewers. It's become such a force that ABC will actually move "Lost" back an hour to 10 o'clock Wednesdays when it returns in February.

Here's why not: Because "How I Met Your Mother" -- the best traditional sitcom left on TV, and the first true heir to "Friends" -- is also on the CBS schedule, just waiting for this kind of showcase.

What's the upside on "Criminal Minds," especially when "American Idol" will be moving into the time period just as "Lost" is moving out? True, nobody expected it to do as well as it already has this year. And there's a chance it could follow the pattern of last year's post-pigskin show, "Grey's Anatomy," which was already rising up the charts before the game and is now the most popular show on television.

But at the end of the day, as people in the TV business like to say, how much higher can "Criminal Minds" go on a network that's in the double figures on crime dramas? If you want to watch a procedural police show, chances are you're more than familiar with CBS' line-up, even if you haven't checked them all out. Maybe the Super Bowl exposure nudges this show ahead a little, but a "Grey's"-like explosion? Nah.

"How I Met Your Mother," on the other hand, is the exact kind of show that can take advantage of the borrowed Super Bowl audience. The story of five New York friends in their late 20s looking for love and having silly adventures, it's not remotely what people expect to find on CBS. If it were airing on NBC Thursdays at 8:30 four or five years ago, it would be a sensation; on CBS in 2006, it's a solidly-performing afterthought.

To read the rest, click here.


R.A. Porter said...

Maybe Les Moonves is lactose-intolerant?

Kim Cosmopolitan said...

Alan, you and I are in complete agreement on this. A post-Super Bowl HIMYM would have been perfection. (Just to mix my references, of course, since you already used the legendary.) A crime procedural in that slot just doesn't make any sense, unless CBS just wants to have The Show That Unseated Lost.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your continued support of HIMYM, Alan. In addition to being underpromoted, I think it's somewhat underappreciated critically -- much more ink gets spilled on NBC's comedies. I agree that not putting HIMYM in the post-Super Bowl slot was a wasted opportunity, but as long as there's no threat of cancellation (and there doesn't seem to be) I'll be happy!

keith said...

Why you watch all the same shows that I do.

I dont get it either. This show should be more popular. I am basically the same age of the people who are in the show. SO, I can relate.

But most my friends never even heard about the show.

Blankity-Blank said...

I'm obviously not going to win the argument over How I Met Your Mother being completely unfunny here, but as fas as the post Super Bowl slot, CBS has clearly made the right, if safe, decision.

Besides the fact that Criminal Minds far surpasses the other crime dramas that saturate its network, it's in exactly the position to get catapulted into a perennial top ten show with this plan. Certainly the chances are tremendously better than an hour of that totally charismatic Ted guy accomplishing the same.