As befits its status as the most-watched television network on the dial, CBS is also the most stable. While its rivals scramble to fill holes and put out fires, CBS prefers to leave the drama on the screen.
With just four time slots to accommodate this fall, CBS has lined up three new dramas and one comedy. (By comparison, the rest of the Big Three have eight new sitcoms prepped for the fall.) Of the three freshman dramas set to bow in September, CBS has slotted two for the 10 p.m. time slot.
Joining CBS’ powerhouse Monday night block is Partners, a workplace/buddy comedy with a weirdly familiar premise: two bros work together in an architecture firm; their friendship is tested when one of them gets engaged. (In 1995, Fox bowed the short-lived Partners, a comedy about two young architects and the woman who comes between them. Jon Cryer and Tate Donovan starred.)
Partners moves into the Monday 8:30 p.m. time slot, bumping sophomore comedy 2 Broke Girls up a half-hour. This in turn sends former 9 p.m. occupant Two and a Half Men gliding off to the Thursday 8:30 p.m. slot, where it will be reunited with The Big Bang Theory.
While returning drama Person of Interest remains in the 9 p.m. Thursday slot, it will no longer lead into The Mentalist. Simon Baker and Co. are off to Sunday nights, where they will close out the 60 Minutes/Amazing Race/The Good Wife block.
In place of The Mentalist comes the new drama Elementary, a 21st-century refresh of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated detective series. Jonny Lee Miller stars as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson in this Manhattan-based procedural.
Perhaps the most promising new drama on the slate is Vegas, a period piece based on the life of Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a fourth-generation rancher charged with the unenviable task of bringing order to Sin City in the 1960s. Nick Pileggi (Casino, Goodfellas) wrote the pilot and is an executive producer of the series, which stars Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis. Vegas fills the Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot left vacant by the canceled Unforgettable.
Having survived the battle of CSI spinoffs, CSI: New York bows in the Friday 8 p.m. slot, where it will lead into the third new CBS drama, Made in Jersey. Starring Janet Montgomery as the street-smart law student Martina Garretti, Made in Jersey is reminiscent of a distaff My Cousin Vinnie. Expect operatic speeches punctuated by exuberant hand gestures.
After renewing 18 series in March and finalizing a deal with Two and a Half Men on Sunday, it’s no surprise that CBS’s fall roster is light on new material. Consistency trumps novelty. With two weeks left to go in the 2011-12 broadcast season, CBS has a stranglehold on reach, averaging 11.8 million viewers to runner-up Fox’s 8.88 million. That said, with an average 3.2 rating among adults 18-to-49, Fox is sure to win the demo crown for the eighth consecutive season, edging CBS (3.0).
CBS officially unveils its 2012-13 lineup at Carnegie Hall this afternoon (Wednesday, May 16 at 4 p.m.). The fall schedule is as follows (new series in bold):
8-8:30 p.m. — How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9 p.m. — Partners
9-9:30 p.m. — 2 Broke Girls
9:30-10 p.m. — Mike & Molly
10-11 p.m. — Hawaii Five-0
8-9 p.m. — NCIS
9-10 p.m. — NCIS: Los Angeles
10-11 p.m. — Vegas
8-9 p.m. — Survivor
9-10 p.m. — Criminal Minds
10-11 p.m. — CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
8-8:30 p.m. — The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9 p.m. — Two and a Half Men
9-10 p.m. — Person of Interest
10-11 p.m. — Elementary
8-9 p.m. — CSI: NY
9-10 p.m. — Made in Jersey
10-11 p.m. — Blue Bloods
8-9 p.m. — Crimetime Saturday
9-10 p.m. — Crimetime Saturday
10-11 p.m. — 48 Hours Mystery
7-8 p.m. — 60 Minutes
8-9 p.m. — The Amazing Race
9-10 p.m. — The Good Wife
10-11 p.m. — The Mentalist