Upfronts Analysis: CBS 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

UpfrontsCBS

CBS 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

May 20th, 2009

If you’re looking for surprises, why the heck are you watching CBS?

It’s the question we face all the time, really, and I’m sure advertisers feel the same way: CBS never really gives them any reason NOT to buy ads on their shows, considering that they are by far the most consistent network, but at the same time they make so few changes every year that it’s hard for the ad buyers (or us as critics) to really get excited about what they have to offer.

Their new shows are really the only thing of much interest usually, but admittedly I think that their schedule changes this year are quite perplexing and worthy of some analysis. CBS is a network that is trying to maintain their existing image while building new hits, but two decisions in particular are quite strange and indicate a sign that CBS is trying to look further into the future than it might seem like at first.

Full schedule and analysis after the jump.

The Comedy Switchup

In a rather strange decision, CBS is breaking up its comedy block in a way that you wouldn’t expect: moving How I Met Your Mother to 8pm and using it as the launching pad for Jenna Elfman sitcom Accidentally on Purpose is only really strange in the decision to put The Big Bang Theory behind Two and a Half Men. It’s bizarre primarily because one would have expected it to work the other way around: it’s one thing to use HIMYM at the front of the night, but it’s another to use the less powerful HIMYM lead-in for a new series as opposed to the much larger Two and a Half Men lead-in.

The logic, I presume, is that they want to turn Big Bang Theory into another Two and a Half Men – with both shows renewed through to next season (with Two and a Half Men extended for another beyond that), they are thinking about the future in allowing Big Bang to break out somewhat further. However, it will be interesting to see if they end up reversing this decision and switching things back around to where they are now if Accidentally on Purpose, facing off with House and Heroes at 8pm, needs a more comfortable launching pad.

Wait…is that backwards?

Late this season, The Mentalist was actually outdrawing CSI, the flagship CBS series, in the key demographic. So, there’s something quite backwards about placing the sophomore series starring Simon Baker in the 10pm timeslot after CSI on Thursdays: if anything, The Mentalist seems like the kind of show which could offer Grey’s Anatomy some new competition in the hour, and it would be a way to protect CSI by having only one real competitor (we’re not counting Leno) in the 10pm slot.

However, even with increased competition from Fringe, the network is deciding to play it safe and try to use Mentalist to challenge to win the night. I don’t think The Mentalist is going to do as well at 10pm as it was doing at 9 on Tuesdays, so there will definitely be some lowered expectations, but if it allows them to win the night in the demo it would be considered a victory for them. Still, one wonders if The Mentalist wasn’t strong enough to even build a new show, ushering in a new breed of CBS series.

The New Series

Instead, it seems as if CBS wants to use The Mentalist’s strategy for launching new shows, putting the new NCIS spinoff (NCIS: Los Angeles, starring Chris O’Donnell and L.L. Cool J) into the 9pm Tuesday timeslot leading into The Good Wife, a legal drama starring Julianna Margulies. Placing a new show at 10pm is a good idea with Jay Leno on NBC, and I have a feeling that the two NCIS shows will lead into each other well considering how strong a performer the veteran series has quite silently been on the night.

The only other new drama on the schedule is Three Rivers, an organ transplant drama starring Moonlight’s Alex O’Laughlin, which slots into Sundays at 9pm following the Amazing Race and leading into Cold Case, which earned the one renewal out of CBS’ bubble procedurals. The other quasi-new series on the schedule, meanwhile, is former NBC series Medium, which CBS owns and quickly paired with Ghost Whisperer on Friday nights at 9pm, a thematic choice that will continue the network’s dominance on the night.

The Canceled Series

With the other networks, the canceled shows weren’t of much interest: the writing had been on the wall for most of them, and it wasn’t really something to get too caught up on. However, with CBS, they’ve eliminated two shows that weren’t struggling creatively or in the ratings, realistically speaking: The Unit, on Sundays at 10, and Without a Trace, Tuesdays at 10, were both performing well in their time slots, but ended up being cut (just as Close to Home was a few years ago) simply because they weren’t drawing much buzz and were growing more and more expensive as they continued. In this economic climate, and with as much success as they have, CBS doesn’t really have hang onto series if they don’t want to.

For fans of the shows, this is certainly a tough pill to swallow: there was nothing wrong with the shows, and they were rated higher than a lot of shows which were renewed on other networks. But, this has happened before, and it will happen again: Cold Case barely made the cut, and is likely in danger next year. The Eleventh Hour was a less surprising cancellation, the same going for Harper’s Island (which was unlikely to get renewed as a short order series), but those two will definitely sting for the network.

And everything else is pretty much the same: CBS is a network that tends to do more tinkering during the year (testing out comedies after Two and a Half Men, trying out shows following CSI, etc.) than during the offseason, so it will be interesting to see their potential backup plans as the year goes on. In the meantime, here’s the full schedule.

Monday
8 p.m. – “How I Met Your Mother”
8:30 p.m. – “Accidentally on Purpose” (new comedy)
9 p.m. – “Two and a Half Men”
9:30 p.m. – “The Big Bang Theory”
10 p.m. – “CSI: Miami”

Tuesday
8 p.m. – “NCIS”
9 p.m. – “NCIS: Los Angeles” (new drama)
10 p.m. – “The Good Wife” (new drama)

Wednesday
8 p.m. – “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
8:30 p.m. – “Gary Unmarried”
9 p.m. – “Criminal Minds”
10 p.m. – “CSI: NY”

Thursday
8 p.m. – “Survivor”
9 p.m. – “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
10 p.m. – “The Mentalist”

Friday
8 p.m. – “Ghost Whisperer”
9 p.m. – “Medium”
10 p.m. – “Numbers”

Saturday
8 p.m. – Drama repeats
9 p.m. – Drama repeats
10 p.m. – “48 Hours Investigations”

Sunday
7 p.m. – “60 Minutes”
8 p.m. – “The Amazing Race”
9 p.m. – “Three Rivers” (new drama)
10 p.m. – “Cold Case”

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8 Comments

Filed under Upfronts

8 responses to “Upfronts Analysis: CBS 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

  1. Lynn

    Has “Flashpoint” been renewed for the 2009-2010 season as I do not see it on the CBS schedule.

  2. Kellie

    The “writing might have been on the wall” for Eleventh Hour prior to its cancellation, but it does not make any more sense to me or the 12 million or so other fans who consistently watched it. As a result, many of us have decided to take a stand with this show and appeal to other networks everywhere to put it back on the air where it belongs. If you love Eleventh Hour, please check out this site:

    http://planet-hood.net/campaign

  3. Connie

    I believe that CBS was very hasty with 11th Hour. Yes the writing was not up to par but the character of Jacob Hood was wonderful and the show improved over time. CBS should have moved that show to a weekend time slot if they felt uncomfortable with the Thursday time slot. Cancelling a show that showed steady improvement and losing a fine actor in the process is silly. I am not sure if CBS has the ability to admit error but they should and make some provision to return the show. It had an audience.

  4. I think whether or not the cancellation of Eleventh Hour was a surprise… depends on who you ask.

    If you ask one of the 12 million people that consistantly watched it every week, or one of the thousands of people that sent letters to CBS daily telling them what a great show EH was and to please renew, or one of the people that assumed it would safely return due to the fact that it won its time slot nearly every Thursday night…. I think the answer would be a resounding YES… it was a most definitely a surprize.

    CBS totally ignored their audience on this one which was a bad move in my opinion.

    I really hope another network is smart and grabs Eleventh Hour!

  5. kygal

    really believe cbs made a mistake by not renewing eleventh hour. intelligent show with great potential for growth. great actors/characters. many fans miss the show and would love to see it back.

  6. Hey Eleventh Hour fans,

    Just wanted to let you know that while I didn’t watch the show myself, I have passed on the Planet Hood website to my Twitter followers in case any of them are interested in joining your cause.

    It’s a definite long shot, but best of luck with your efforts!

    Myles

  7. Kellie

    Myles,

    That was amazingly kind and thoughtful of you! We all appreciate it very much.

    Kellie

  8. ellie

    I live in UK and Eleventh Hour is being aired at the moment. CBS have lost out big time cancelling such a brilliant and thought provoking show. I have joined the campaign to bring EH back to our screens via another network because this show deserves much better than it got. And, as others have said, 12 million viewers each week cannot be wrong. Not enough is ever said regarding these errors that have happened in the past when fantastic, worthwhile shows are done away with; it’s time to really make a stand and let the networks know that people are sick and tired of being treated so badly and ‘spoon fed’ drivel.
    Eleventh Hour must return.

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