Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"They will cook their own meals, clean their own outhouses, haul their own water and even run their own businesses.": CBS 2007-08 Schedule Analysis

Sorry for the delay, though does this schedule really need THAT much analysis? Most networks nowadays have a schedule that's only 50% decent, the other 50% of which is in meh-to-crappy shape. CBS, meanwhile, has a schedule that, outside of a few sour spots (Tuesdays at 10, Wednesdays at 8), is programmed about as well as it can get, to the point that 10 million viewers on Friday is enough to get canceled, an amount all the other networks would die for on that night (Sorry, Close to Home).

Still, CBS is trying once again to shake things up. Last season they tried shaking things up, but the only show that survived was the pedestrian Shark, while Smith, The Class and Jericho all disappointed and got canceled. Here you have a "mystery drama with music" (their wording) in between the eternal 60 Minutes and crime drama Cold Case, a family soap (called "epic drama" in the press release) about a family-run rum and sugar business after The Unit in that deadly Tuesdays @ 10 slot, and a thriller about a P.I. vampire on Fridays after Jennifer Love Hewitt's Boobs. They also have a reality show with kids trying to reform a ghost town (exhilarating!) and the second comedy this season about a group of geeks. Those dramas are certainly daring for the network, and unfortunately for CBS, daring rarely pays off for them (again, only Shark survived this season). (Much of this may have to do with the fact that CBS routinely takes daring concepts and sands off all the rough edges -- in short, it CBSes them. But that's for another time. -- ed.)

But in between all of this uniqueness you have clumps of schedule untouched, from Mondays (Only Big Bang Theory is new) Tuesdays 8-10, Wednesdays 9-11 and Thursdays 8-10 (With Without a Trace returning after a mostly uneventful move to Sundays).

All right. I tried making this sound interesting, but I just can't. At least NBC's nuttiness was somewhat fascinating.


7 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8 p.m.: Viva Laughlin! (new show)
9 p.m.: Cold Case
10 p.m.: Shark (new night)

60 Minutes continues its run as longest-standing show in a single timeslot, while Cold Case stays put. Viva Laughlin! reminds me of Smith, only with a better time and smaller cast. Shark did decently after CSI, and I think it can hold enough of that audience (I actually know a few people that are fans of it) and Cold Case's audience.

Predictions: 60 Minutes and Cold Case do their thing, Shark thrives and Viva Laughlin! ... I could see it going either way: swift cancellation or dragging along for a season due to failure of the rest of the new shows and critical acclaim (assuming it comes). I'll lean towards the latter.

8 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother
8:30 p.m.: Big Bang Theory (new show)
9 p.m.: Two-and-a-Half Men
9:30 p.m.: Rules of Engagement
10 p.m.: CSI: Miami

After a cancellation scare, HIMYM survives to see another season despite mediocre ratings (At CBS, 8 million viewers is like 5 million to all other networks, with the exception of The CW, where it would be 1.5 million). The Big Bang Theory's success depends on critical reaction, and it doesn't seem like the kind of show that sets the critical world on fire. The other shows aren't too shocking.

Predictions: Maybe it's optimism, but I think airing after 2.5 Men over the summer should help HIMYM (hopefully) stay in the 9 million viewers range, decent up against Dancing with the Stars (and getting the series on iTunes would help too, CBS -- ed.). Big Bang Theory doesn't seem like the kind of show that'll set the actual world on fire either, so I think a cancellation and replacement with Old Christine is in order. 2.5 Men continues to be Television's Biggest Comedy (Ho hum), Rules of Engagement continues to be fed by 2.5 Men's success, and with NBC and ABC not doing much with Mondays at 10, CSI: Miami should continue its reign as the World's Biggest Show.

8 p.m.: NCIS
9 p.m.: The Unit
10 p.m.: Cane (new show)

While NCIS and The Unit were eroding viewers this season, they still have an enviable consistency and jive pretty well together, hence their sticking around. Cane meanwhile is probably hoping to catch Latino viewers, because I can't think of another reason they would find a drama about a family-run rum and sugar business to be a good idea.

Predictions: NCIS and The Unit continue to do their thing, while Cane dies before sweeps and gets replaced by CSI repeats. Again.

8 p.m.: Kid Nation (new show)
9 p.m.: Criminal Minds
10 p.m.: CSI: NY

Criminal Minds and CSI: NY is expected, but Kid Nation is not. It's a fascinating concept, but I don't see it appealing to anyone outside of Parents Television Council members. (I've learned to never underestimate the appeal of oddball reality TV. -- ed.)

Predictions: Kids Nation will probably get not-bad enough numbers to live out its run, but I doubt a second season will materialize. Criminal Minds and CSI: NY continue to do their thing.

8pm Survivor
9pm CSI
10pm Without a Trace (new night)

I guess CBS has decided that fixing something that didn't really need fixing was a bad idea (even though Shark was performing far better than WAT in its first season, though ER was actually a threat when WAT premiered), so they're trying to put it back together.

Predictions: Survivor will continue to go down, but anything above 13 million should be okay to CBS. CSI had the advantage this season over Grey's overall thanks to repeats, but ABC's move to eliminate repeats could put that in jeopardy. And with ER dying and Big Shots looking like an unlikely fit for Grey's, WAT should should post numbers higher than Shark and what it did on Sundays.

8 p.m.: Ghost Whisperer
9 p.m.: Moonlight*
10 p.m.: Numb3rs

While a VAMPIRE P.I. sounds pretty awesome (oh you crazy kids and your "I've never seen Angel!" attitudes -- ed.), it just doesn't seem like the kind of show that fits with the family-appealing Ghost Whisperer (assuming the PTC is still pushing it, are they?) and older-appealing Numb3rs.

Predictions: Moonlight doesn't survive the season, GW/Numb3rs do their thing. Ho hum.

Geez, success is DULL.

Coming up: Photos and videos.

Tomorrow: David takes on Fox and The CW, finds out if he's smarter than a fifth-grader and angrily rails against the success of One Tree Hill (I'm just assuming here).

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