It’s Groundhog Day at CBS, as the top-rated broadcast network has booked a return ticket for 18 of its original series—the same number it renewed a year ago.
Among the programs that will appear on CBS’ 2013-14 roster are four comedies (2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly and the previously announced How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory) and eight dramas. Along with NCIS, which was renewed in February, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (March 20), CBS’ returning dramas are NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mentalist, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods and Person of Interest.
Only one of the network’s six freshman series was given a new lease on life. Starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, the New York-based Sherlock Holmes refresh Elementary is one of a handful of successful broadcast newcomers. After bowing in the Thursday 10 p.m. time slot to 13.4 million viewers and a 4.0 in the adults 25-54 demo, Elementary has been a rock, averaging 11 million viewers and a 3.3 in the target demo.
A special post-Super Bowl installment of Elementary scared up 20.8 million viewers and an 8.3 rating, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data.
Not numbered among the living was the first-year drama Vegas, which in February was bumped from its Tuesday night perch by the midseason cop show Golden Boy. Following a six-week hiatus, Vegas returns to the lineup April 5, in the Friday 9 p.m. slot.
Despite leading out of the powerhouse NCIS-NCIS: Los Angeles battery, Vegas’ demos have not kept pace with its reach. In the course of 15 episodes, the period drama has averaged 10.2 million viewers and a 2.6 in the target demo.
While CBS isn’t likely to make an official announcement about Vegas, the fact that the show has been remanded to the HUT-level obscurity of Friday nights suggests that it will take its place alongside the previously canceled Partners, Made in Jersey and The Job. Golden Boy and the veteran comedy Rules of Engagement are also expected to meet the reaper at the end of the season. (The Rules cast members are all in the final year of their respective contracts, and most have signed on to do pilots for the 2013-14 campaign.)
Also left off the list were the procedural Criminal Minds (now in its eighth season), CSI: New York and the comedy Two and a Half Men. CBS continues to negotiate with Warner Bros. Television for an 11th season of Men.
Of course, even an official cancelation needn’t always spell doom for a CBS series. A month after announcing it would not be renewing the Poppy Montgomery series Unforgettable, CBS reversed course, ordering a 13-episode second season. Unforgettable returns on Sunday, July 28.
With 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Survivor and Undercover Boss all secured for another season, there aren’t many holes CBS needs to plug in its prime-time lineup. The network must find one viable sitcom for its two-hour Monday comedy block, and Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. appear to be up for grabs as well. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have been left intact, which leaves a two-hour chunk on Friday night to be filled.
CBS has 12 comedy pilots and an equal number of dramas from which to choose its newest series. Among the most buzzworthy projects in development are Sam Baum’s medical/political drama The Surgeon General; the single-camera comedy Super Clyde, which stars Harry Potter alum Rupert Grint; Chuck Lorre’s multi-camera family comedy Mom; and a Beverly Hills Cop adaptation from Shawn Ryan (The Shield).
One sure thing is Under the Dome, a 13-episode serialized drama based on the novel by Stephen King and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. CBS earlier this year announced it would slot the sci-fi drama as a summer series; the launch date is Monday, June 24.
Another apparent shoe-in arrives in the form of a second NCIS spin-off. On successive Tuesdays (March 19 and 26), CBS aired a two-part backdoor pilot for NCIS: Red, which is being positioned as a potential second heir to the franchise. The first hour of Red drew CBS’ highest ratings in the NCIS: Los Angeles time slot, averaging 16.8 million viewers and a 4.3 in the 25-54 demo.
CBS will reveal its entire 2013-14 broadcast schedule during its May 15 upfront presentation.
Through the first 26 weeks of the season, CBS is ranked first among total viewers (12.2 million) and the two major demos. Among adults 25-54, CBS is averaging a 3.9 rating, giving it a one-point advantage over Fox and NBC, while the 3.0 average it is maintaining among the 18-49 set is four-tenths of a ratings point higher than Fox’s 2.6.