2012-13 Up-Fronts: CBS (and my usual bullsh*t)

This is the second in my series about the coming network television up-fronts. I rambled pretty good in my first two posts, in which my rambling became a rant against the National Broadcasting Company.

This post won’t approach that length (I don’t think), as today I plow ahead to the Columbia Broadcasting System, otherwise known as CBS. A few years ago, this was the old people’s network, as its demo skewed seriously towards retirees (even after my grandmother essentially lost the ability to speak, she could still say C-B-S).

This has changed in the first decade of the 20th Century. CBS essentially got lucky with a trio of hits, which made the network the No. 1 juggernaut it is today: Survivor, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (or CSI: Las Vegas) and Two and a Half Men.

Survivor was the first on the scene, and essentially became the benchmark from which all modern day reality shows measured themselves.

CSI came shortly thereafter, and completely changed up the crime procedural from the (even then) stagnant Law and Order model by injecting some action and humor into the proceedings. Finally, Two and a Half Men reinvigorated the sit-com-with-laugh-track genre by adding an element of raunch and constantly flirting with (and occasionally ignoring) the FCC’s censorship of television.

None of the shows are what they once were, (though all still air with an astounding 45 combined seasons) but it’s fairly easy to distill CBS’s programming down to three basic categories: reality (Survivor), Crime Procedural (CSI) and sit-com (Two and a Half Men).

I personally don’t watch CBS very much, though that puts me in the minority of television-watching Americans. I can’t stand reality shows, absolutely refuse to watch TV shows with a laugh track (a rule I only broke for Two and a Half Men until it’s demise with @aplusk) and generally find police procedurals boring and tiresome.

I do enjoy Hawaii Five-0, which I watched because of the Exec Producers Kurtzman and Orci, and Person of Interest, which drew my attention thanks to Jonathan Nolan and Michael Emerson. These definitely fall into the police procedural category, but both are very well written and have amazing cast chemistry so they keep my interest.

CBS’ more innovative shows (what people call “Out of the Box”, even though I hate that term) over the years have not done very well and/or CBS has completely mishandled them.

One example: Jericho is one of my favorite shows of all time, and it would still be airing had CBS not completely mishandled it. With something like 12 million viewers (I can’t remember for sure and am too lazy to look it up), CBS had a hit on their hands with Jericho. But it then inexplicably took the show off the air for four months over Christmas, brought it back to ratings that were down 30-40% and wondered what went wrong.

So, CBS continues to coast on the success of three major shows and continues to spit out clones from each of them. And it’s been very successful at it. But one day, the net is going to have to spit out something new, or it will be left behind.

Without further ado, CBS’ breakdown:

2 Broke Girls – Never watched it, but people seem to like it.

48 Hours Mystery – CBS has a long-term history with news shows (not mentioned in my category breakdown above) that goes back to when my grandmother was my age.

60 Minutes – See above.

The Amazing Race – A Survivor descendant, but consistently wins awards for its production.

The Big Bang Theory – Has overtaken Two and a Half Men in CBS’ comedy genre. Also has already been renewed for TWO years.

Big Brother – A summer show that will be back this summer.

Blue Bloods – Police procedural with Tom Selleck. Have heard tell in the past that the ratings aren’t quite up to snuff with this one; but brought back regardless.

Criminal Minds – One of CBS’ three franchise procedural shows. Look for a future spinoff like CSI: Miami and NCIS: Los Angeles.

CSI – Never watched it myself, but supposedly Ted Danson has re-invigorated this show. Good thing too, since Danson’s Bored to Death was cancelled.

The Good Wife – I never understood how, from the pilot/preview, this could last as a show. What I didn’t understand was that it was going to be a legal procedural/soap opera.

Hawaii Five-0 – This is a very good show that has potential to be a great one. Sharp writing, and terrific chemistry between its two leads. If the writing staff can take it up just a notch on the story-side, it’d be unstoppable.

How I Met Your Mother – The definitive CBS laugher with laugh track. Didn’t like it much myself, but at the top of its game right now.

The Mentalist – Anyone noticing a trend in these renewals?

Mike & Molly – I didn’t like this show when I saw the preview. I didn’t like this show when I watched the first four minutes then turned it off. I HATE this show since Melissa McCarthy’s disgusting (yet Oscar nominated) turn in Bridesmaids. But apparently someone likes it.

NCIS – One of the top shows on television.

NCIS: Los Angeles – Caught my first ep of this last week thanks to the Hawaii Five-0 cross-over. Though I tend to shy away from these shows, I might give it another shot. Have always been (why?) a fan of Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J, and the pair have an easy chemistry. Also, wouldn’t be surprised to see another one of these…how about NCIS: New Orleans? Crazy crap happens down that way.

Person of Interest – This show is always getting better. They’ve developed a nice mythology by telling interesting procedural stories while adding bits and pieces to the bigger story each week. Can’t wait to see where this is going.

Survivor – Coming back for Season 25.

The Talk – Not gonna lie, had to look this one up to see what it was.

Undercover Boss – Never seen it. Another reality show.

Two and a Half Men – Wow is this show terrible now, and that’s really sad because it used to be a great comedy. Charlie Sheen is laughing is ass off watching this turd. That said, the titular cast are all about to receive one-year contract extensions. Wouldn’t be surprised if CBS mandated a series finale this year. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I fully expect Sheen to reappear in the series finale.

CSI: Miami – Is the CSI concept wearing thin?

CSI: New York – Looks that way. This show always seems to be on the chopping block.

Rules of Engagement – This show started off on Saturdays, but got moved back to prime time very quickly to replace the god-awful How to Be a Gentleman. Its survival depends completely on CBS’ comedy slate for next year. It’s a filler show; always has been.

A Gifted Man – Previews looked terrible and be honest…how awful was this title?

Rob – Who had this idea, really? Laughable…

Unforgettable – Looks like a lot of people FORGOT to watch this show (okay okay, that was bad).

How to Be a Gentleman – How did this even get out of the pilot stage? Ads looked completely horrid.

(Sources: TV.com primarily, but IMDB and various others as well. Opinions are my own)