Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fall TV Preview 2015: Columbia Broadcasting System

Welcome back to my discussion of the 2015 new Fall TV season. Today we're going to examine the new shows on CBS.


But wait . . .

None of the shows on CBS Sunday night are brand new. 60 Minutes is still starting the night--being delayed by the NFL since your grandfather was raising his children and teaching them to distrust the Kennedys. The other entries for the Tiffany Network at the start of the week include Madam Secretary [returns 10/4 @ 8], The Good Wife [returns 10/4 @ 9], and CSI: Cyber [returns 10/4 @ 10]. All three are dramas, fronted by strong female characters. Perhaps this is CBS' own version of Football Counter-Programming, giving the ladies something that they might want after many weekend hours of football?


The new CBS show on at the beginning of your work week is called Life in Pieces [premieres 9/21 @ 8:30]. It's a family-based sit-com that tells its episodic stories by focusing individually on each family's point of view. I assume that the discrepancies between these POVs is the main source of the comedy of the show. This might get pretty gimmicky pretty fast, but I appreciate the concept. And the acting troupe includes Dianne Wiest, Josh Brolin, and Colin Hanks. So . . . it might work well if the writing is creative and doesn't rely too much on tired tropes.

The returning shows include The Big Bang Theory [returns 9/21 @ 8], Scorpion [returns 9/21 @ 9], and NCIS: Los Angeles [returns 9/21 @ 10]. Did any of you watch Scorpion last year when it was debuting? I never did, so I'm a bit curious about how well it did in its first season. And I am watching TBBT--even though everyone else dismisses it as very ordinary. But I'm invested in the characters and I just want to see how Penny and Leonard handle being married!


Maybe that Monday night serving of NCIS: Los Angeles has made you realize how much you like dramas about criminal investigation units? Well, then you will absolutely LOVE CBS Tuesday nights, because at 8, you can watch NCIS: Original Recipe [returns 9/22 @ 8] and then chase that down with NCIS: New Orleans [returns 9/22 @ 9]

Source:; note: not a link to an actual quiz

But I think that is waaay to much NCIS in my own life, so I have decided to give the new show Limitless [premieres 9/22 @ 10] a try. Yes, this show is based on the Bradley Cooper movie of the same name, and yes, the premise is about a guy that uses boutique pharmaceuticals to unlock more of his brain to grow smarter, more successful, and more in danger from criminals and the like. But Cooper is, I think, a producer on the show and will even appear in the pilot. So the idea must have his Hollywood blessing. I think it might be worth a DVR scheduling.


Now that you've gotten all of that Navy-based criminal investigation out of your system, what else is there to watch midweek?

How do you feel about yet another edition of Survivor? Because CBS is definitely interested in giving it to you [returns . . . again, 9/23 @ 8]. I am still amazed that this show is continuing to go strong--even when we've had this mini-renaissance of super high quality dramatic television in the last decade, stretching--as Alan Sepinwall has demonstrated--from The Shield through to LOST, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and on. But most of those shows were on cable, so I guess the rationale is that mainstream networks still need the cheap costs of reality TV to help maintain the bottom line? I guess? (Or is the show still popular after all these years? And why is IT successful that all the other first year efforts, like FOX's bomb from last year, Utopia, never get any traction? Is it just familiarity and inertia--the same forces that keep Big Bang Theory going?)

But don't accuse CBS of just going with the familiar again and again mindlessly. Its new 10 pm drama--called Code Black [premieres 9/30 @ 10] is described on the Web site as "Doctors and nurses fight to save lives in the country's busiest ER."

Oh, wait . . . really? 

Come on.


Well, just when I was getting annoyed with CBS and my fingers were getting tired of typing . . . it serves up a gimme of a night. Because this night is only slotted with America's favorite past time--besides wondering what color hat Donald Trump will be wearing now . . .

Football, football, Thursday Night Football! All hail the football!

(In early November CBS will start showing actual shows on Thursday night again. Starting 11/5 @ 9 the football diminishes a bit and the shows Mom, Angel from Hell, and Elementary pop up in the schedule. Mom and Elementary are returning shows, but the other title is a new effort--about an advice-giving angel who is trying to help out a frazzled doctor in New York City. Jane Lynch plays the angel and Maggie Lawson plays the doctor.

(I don't know. . . but it feels sort weak to me. The only guardian angel I need in my viewing life is good ole Clarence.)


Well, if you're not in the mood for things you already know a lot about . . . then you're probably not going to be super interested in the end-of-the-week offerings from CBS. It is yet more shows that you've already heard of and for which you definitely already hold an opinion: The Amazing Race, Hawaii Five-O, and Blue Bloods. [All shows returning on 9/25 @ 8, 9, and 10.]

I guess I should be impressed with CBS methodical way of returning tested shows year after year, and seemingly all premiering that new night's worth of shows in a daily block. (Seriously, go check back through the days that I've outlined above and you'll see what I mean.) Charitably, I suppose it demonstrates a well-run network that had built up a good stable of solid programming. CBS is, I guess like the St. Louis Cardinal baseball team: dependable, predictable, and completely boring. But you grudgingly must acknowledge that it gets the job done year after year.



What even is there to talk about on Saturday, on a network that isn't devoted to football? I mean, maybe I should take back that half-hearted praise that I just laid down and instead question everything that CBS stands for. How unAmerican can it be . . . not to have pigskin on the weekend?

Instead, they have something scheduled that is called "Crimetime Saturday" with no explanatory Web link to help me figure out what is being planned. But I'm not too worried, because I'm pretty sure I remember SEC football games leaking into the early evening, dinner hours on Saturday night. So maybe CBS isn't run by a bunch of socialists after all.

(And then there is 48 Hours at 10 pm.)


But . . . really, all of that was just a very long prologue to the most important show CBS is actually premiering on October 26 @ 8:30--Supergirl.

I really hope that this show is going to be a good one. I find it interesting that Marvel has done so well translating their comic characters to the cinema in recent years, while DC (outside of Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale, of course) has "struggled". And I put that struggled in quotes advisedly . . . because the various Superman reboots have been successful, just not gargantuan. And, well, yes. Green Lantern was not well received. And--sure--I've grown disillusioned with a lot of what Gotham did last year. (Maybe more to dome on that later.) And, well, I guess DC is at fault for never getting any good Wonder Woman movies made yet--but then again, look at all the Black Widow problems the MCU just went through this summer. So maybe struggled should come out of quotation marks after all?

BUT . . . my main point is that DC hero properties have done well on the small screen. I like Arrow pretty strongly (though it does get a bit too dark and mopey at times) and The Flash is quite good and a good tonal contrast to Arrow. So . . . expectations for Supergirl are strong. I really hope the show is quality and that the story is engaging.

This new show might be the one I am most interested in--and its on CBS. Who knew? I guess I'm getting older than I think.

(Stay tuned for the next Fall TV Preview post in a few days. Let's continue this superhero vibe and look at The CW.)

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