Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: CBS

The Fall TV Preview is underway for 2014. You can find the other 2014 posts here, along with the other posts I've written on the subject in past years.

In this post, we're going to take a look at CBS.

Wait . . . hold on. Am I reading this right? Are there only three new shows in this Fall season for CBS? Can that possibly be right? If so, then these three new shows are NCIS: New Orleans, The McCarthys, Scorpion, and Stalker. Oh, hold on. That is four shows. That's better . . . I guess? Or am I just not finding the correct listing of shows for CBS?

But why would that be hard? Is the trend for broadcast TV so downward that they can't even be bothered to promote their shows? Or is CBS so confident in their #1 mainstream status that they didn't green light lots of new shows because their old shows are relatively strong?

So many questions.

Well, let's take a look at these discovered new shows and then maybe I can find something else as I dig around.

NCIS: New Orleans (premieres Sept. 23): Police procedurals are the gifts that keep on giving year after year. They are the Swiss Army knife of television shows because they can fit anywhere and you came make them "fresh" by moving them to a new city and throwing together a new cast. This cast is centered around Scott Bacula. I can't think of anything witty to say about this show because it is not interested in being witty or flashy or different. Much like this paragraph, NCIS: New Orleans is content to simply take up space.


The McCarthys (premieres Oct. 30): Now, what do you think this show is about? I haven't done any research on it yet, so I know as much as you might. Let's make some guesses based on the photo that the Web site provided. Obviously . . . the dude standing up is the main focal point of the show. Let's suppose that his name is Ian McCarthy. And from the looks of it he and his dad, his (long-suffering) wife, his boorish (younger?) brother--and his wife, and their . . . um . . . work neighbor that lives nearby? Well, they all like to get together and watch . . . college football every weekend. And judging from the green shamrock (not pictures in the screen cap) to the left on the main page . . . they are Irish? Notre Dame fans? Living in Boston?

Let's see if I got ANY of that remotely close.
Well, I guess wrong about who was the main character and I didn't anticipate the homosexual angle. And I mixed up the mother by identifying her as a wife (I guess I misinterpreted older for long-suffering. AND . . . I got the relationship of the brother and sister wrong by making them husband and wife. BUT I did guess Boston and gathering for sports periodically correct! So . . . 30 imaginary points go to me.

Now . . . I'm not going to watch this show because ethnic humor is usually as tired and stereotypical as the semi-racist humor that was backed-away from in my ABC Preview. But, I'm wondering why this show is not premiering until late October? Is CBS broadcasting the World Series this year and I'm not aware of it? Anyway, let's not spend more time worrying about it.

Scorpion (premieres Sept. 22): Before you really start reading through this write up, click on the link to this show's page and take a hard look at the main photo. I recognize that trying to sum up a brand new show concept in a static image like this is challenging--as was proven by my previous exercise with The McCarthys. But WHAT is that lady in the background doing with the sparking electrical extension cords? Is she an electrician? A magician? WHY would you choose that pose as her defining moment to an unfamiliar public?

As to what the show is about? Well, as the chalkboard full of equations may suggest, the show collects several people of high IQ together to work for the government solving difficult cases. Maybe the government doesn't know how to fix their electrical problems? So, yeah .. . CBS is locking DOWN the police procedural corner of broadcast television.

Stalker (premieres Oct. 1): If you like one-word, S-construction names for you TV shows then CBS is for you! But if you like feel-good shows with uplifting messages this show is most-likely NOT for you, as the main image on the show page is a hoodied figure with no visible face. (Honestly, given the image resonance this has with Trayvon Martin I'm a bit surprised by that. But I guess that was a few years ago. Maybe I'm too sensitive.)

Based on some simple one-line statements on the show site, Stalker seems to be like a watered down version of an Arkham Asylum breakout or an amped up police procedural show. There are detectives (Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q) facing off against criminals. But the criminals seems more elaborate than just the sort of guys that get jailed on Castle each week. There is a definite horror element to the show. Maybe CBS learned something from FOX's Sleepy Hollow success last year?Speaking of learning from other success . . . hey CBS, do you like female-themed political shows?

Madam Secretary (premieres Sept. 21): Tea Leone is not Julia Louis Dreyfus. But Leone has been around the TV block several times like JLD and even has some experience in the television comedy. But I don't get the vibe that Madam Secretary is trying to be funny. If it were, the cover image would show a cast of wacky aides with ties askew, perhaps trying to prevent a tourist from spilling a soft drink on the Declaration of Independence. Rather, Madam Secretary looks more like CBS' version of The West Wing, a character-driven platform to allow the creators to speak about American foreign policy and such. And my supposition is definitely made more solid by the fact that the show is scheduled to be on Sunday nights--America's most serious night of television.

And so, I think that may be it for new Fall Shows. Another smallish bunch. But CBS has lots of solid stuff to keep its numbers up. There is Football on the weekend--both college and professional. And they've got critical favorites like The Good Wife and Revenge and Scandal coming back. And of course they've got The Big Bang Theory chugging along and racking up numbers and nominations every season.

As for me? On this network, I'll be looking forward to the return of Elementary and The Big Bang Theory. But what are your favorite shows on the Tiffany Network? Do any of these new shows look good to you? Do you think Stalker might become some sort of hit mid week? And how do actors like Dylan McDermott keep getting shows like clockwork year after year after year? Let me know down in the comments.

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