By Jordan Walker
CBS shocks the television industry by changing the schedule for five nights of programming this fall.
CBS made the biggest splash so far at the 2010 upfront presentations. Between the seven veteran shows that were cancelled just days ago and the shaking up its solid schedule, CBS gave advertisers a taste of what TV’s No. 1 network feels it has to do next season to continue its reign as No. 1.
CBS scheduling chief, Kelly Kahl, called the move “Aggressive stability.” Step one of CBS’ “aggressive stability:” to clean out the house by cancelling seven shows. Sitcoms “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Gary Unmarried,” and “Accidently on Purpose” got walking papers, in addition to dramas “Ghost Whisperer,” “Numb3rs,” “Miami Medical,” and “Cold Case.” There have been talks that “Ghost Whisperer” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” could move to ABC, although it is looking more likely that only “Ghost Whisperer” will be saved (especially since part of the show is owned by ABC).
Step two: to reallocate established hits to new nights, and hope they can maintain their good ratings. This fall will be the first time that a “CSI” is moved from its longtime timeslot. “CSI: Miami” will move from Mondays at 10 p.m. to Sundays at 10 p.m. to make room for the 1970’s reboot of “Hawaii 5-0,” starring Alex O’Loughlin and “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim. “CSI: NY” will move to Fridays at 9 p.m. and serve as a lead in to the new Jim Belushi drama series (yes, drama!) “Blue Bloods.” Another move that is making waves is the separation of “Survivor” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on Thursdays. The two have been paired together for the last nine years, and have been one of the longest (and most successful) hour long shows pairs in television history. “Survivor” will move to Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
The most surprising change on CBS’ fall schedule is the move of “The Big Bang Theory” to Thursdays at 8 p.m., which establishes a comedy night on Thursdays, something CBS hasn’t had since 1986. “The Big Bang Theory” is one of CBS’ hits in the ratings, so it seem the network wants the show to leave the shadow of “Two and a Half Men” and stand as a strong lead in to the new, promising comedy, “$#*! My Dad Says” (pronounced Bleep). Based off of the Twitter page of the same name, the new 8:30 p.m. sitcom will star Emmy winner William Shatner as a father who has no censor on his mouth. This show is looking out to be one of the biggest comedy hits on TV of the upcoming season.
Technology is allowing CBS executives to sit comfortably with the bit changes. According to Entertainment President Nina Tassler, “Our viewers all know how to use DVR’s. All these shows have loyal fan bases, so the audience will follow the shows wherever. And if one something goes wrong, it’s not like the moves are irreversible.”
“How I Met Your Mother” and “Rules of Engagement” will return to their respective 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. slots. “Rules of Engagement” has been picked up for 22-24 episodes, a first for the series, which will be entering its fifth season this fall. Other scoops from the upfront presentation included the news that CBS has made a deal with Charlie Sheen for him to return to TV’s No. 1 rated sitcom, “Two and a Half Men,” for two more seasons. This news is great for CBS because it can continue to use the show as a launching pad for other comedies. “Mike & Mollie,” a new comedy produced by Chuck Lorre starring Billy Gardell (My Name is Earl) as Mike and Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls) as Molly, will air after the 9 p.m. “Two and a Half Men” at 9:30 p.m. on Mondays.
Tuesdays will remain the same with the very reliable trio of “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and “The Good Wife” from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. respectively.
Joining “Survivor” (8 p.m.) and “Criminal Minds” (9 p.m.) on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. is the new legal drama “Defenders,” starring veteran TV star Tom Selleck.
“The Big Bang Theory” and “$#*! My Dad Says” will kick off the Thursday night lineup at 8 pm., followed by “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” at 9 p.m. and “The Mentalist” at 10.
Sundays will see some re-shuffling, but no new series. “60 Minutes” lead off as always at 7 p.m. “The Amazing Race” and the reality hit of this past season, “Undercover Boss,” will swap time slots, with “The Amazing Race” now at 8 p.m. and “Undercover Boss” now at 9 p.m. “CSI: Miami will round out the night at 10 p.m.
CBS doesn’t have much on deck for midseason shows since it is very confident that its fall offerings will open strong, but we can expect the “Criminal Minds” spinoff, starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, to debut sometime midseason, along with the new Brett Ratner-produced drama “Chaos.”
One thing CBS knows how to do is take risks with scheduling, and it has always paid off with lasting success. Even though the network hasn’t made drastic changes to its schedule like this in over a decade, one can surely bet that this will be another one of CBS’ successful strategies.