Upfronts Week — CBS's Fall Schedule


It's Upfronts Week, a time when hope springs eternal for all the networks, and their bevy of new shows. Today we turn our gaze to CBS, which remains the No. 1 network in total viewers. That's not to say there aren't some soft spots in the armor. There are. But CBS gets to schedule from a good place, and that's allowing them to swing for the fences some with new shows.

Network: CBS
Best Scheduling Move:
Stability is always the goal, and CBS really has more of it than any other network. Their Thursday night lineup and Wednesday night lineup have some new shows, but they're built around anchors. "The Big Bang Theory" and familiar comedies "Mom" and "Life in Pieces" provide a foundation for "Young Sheldon," a TBBT spin-off, and the new drama "S.W.A.T." And on Wednesdays, new drama "Seal Team" slides in between stalwarts "Survivor" and "Criminal Minds." The CBS Friday night lineup is also intact, making it one of the few networks to offer stability on the night, and they already had the strongest lineup. Again, CBS is scheduling from a place of stability and strength, giving them a chance to run these new shows out and see if they can stick. And last year, four of six new fall offerings did earn a pick up.

Most Curious Scheduling Move:
CBS is again shaking up its Sunday night lineup. "N.C.I.S. Los Angeles" is sliding back to 9 p.m. and "Madame Secretary" is moving to the 10 p.m. slot, marking the second straight season it has changed time slots on Sunday nights. Obviously what CBS had there wasn't working, but will this work better? The new 8 p.m. show that night, "Wisdom of the Crowd," feels like the weakest new offering (more on that below) and doesn't seem to fit. This might be nitpicking a bit, but with CBS that's what we are left to do.

Most Promising New Show:
The easiest layup here is "Young Sheldon," which is a prequel based on the lead character from TV's No. 1 comedy, "The Big Bang Theory." And the first look there seemed promising, and I think this show will likely come with the most built-in ready audience. Launching behind "The Big Bang Theory" on Thursday nights gives it a pretty plum time slot, too. But I'm not about taking the easy way out. The show that grabbed me the most from the CBS lineup is "S.W.A.T.," which is based on a show from the 1970s and a movie from the early 2000s. This is more movie than show, according to CBS, but it also looked pretty good. I liked the cast, especially Shemar Moore in the lead role. The show gets the other Thursday night time slot, at 10 p.m., but actually looks like the kind of series that could thrive there.

Least Promising New Show:
So many choices here. If I'm being honest, I'm not wild about the sitcoms. "Young Sheldon" will be successful, I believe, but didn't look incredible to me. However, it looks really good compared to "9JKL" and "Me, Myself and I," the other two sitcoms. They seem like real stretches, but that's the way it goes sometimes. The one I'm singling out here, though, is the new Sunday night drama "Wisdom of the Crowd." It stars Jeremy Piven, a gifted comedy actor, in a show that looks direly sober and serious. That's the first thing that struck me. It's about a tech billionaire who, after the murder of his daughter, decides to apply his genius to creating tech to solve crimes. Does that sound familiar? It should. It's the premise, give or take a bit, of "APB," the FOX drama that bombed on Monday nights this Spring. Except this time without humor, and thrown out Sundays at 8 p.m. against NFL games. Yeah, I don't think so. Even the trailer nearly put me to sleep. This feels like an odd choice for CBS.

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