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TCA: CBS Panel In Depth

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Mediaweek's Marc Berman takes us through the CBS panel and fall schedule from TCA. Take a look at in-depth analysis of all the additions and scheduling changes that will accompany CBS' fall schedule. Also, tune in to Mediaweek TV for video coverage from TCA.

Click below for a video analyzing the CBS panel and schedule (with Mediaweek correspondent Alan Frutkin):




On the CBS Panel Front:
Mike & Molly, Hawaii Five-O, The Defenders, Blue Bloods, $#*! My Dad Says

Mike & Molly
Monday 9:30 p.m.

-The Premise:
A couple (Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell) meet in a support group for overeaters in this multi-camera sitcom from Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre.  

-Lead-in: Two and a Half Men
-Competition: Dancing With the Stars (ABC), The Event (NBC), Lonestar (Fox), Gossip Girl (CW)

-Who Was on the Panel:
Billy Gardell, Melissa McCarthy, Reno Wilson, Katy Mixon, Swoosie Kurtz and executive producers Chuck Lorre and Mark Roberts.
 
-The Scoop:
Mike & Molly according to Mark Roberts:

“Well, I didn’t set out to write a show about Overeaters Anonymous. I wanted to write a show about two people at the beginning of a relationship, and that was the part of it that intrigued me the most. It’s just a show about people with problems, which is usually what comedy is built around. So, most of the stuff on TV seems pretty unrealistic to me. People dress really nice, and their apartments are really nice. And I don’t buy any of their problems.”

And according to Chuck Lorre:

“These people want to make a change in their lives. I think that speaks to a lot of people who are not satisfied with the status quo in their lives and they’re taking, you know, real actions to improve their lives in one way or another, either through something like a 12-step group or education or exercise, diet, whatever it is. These are people who are alive, and they’re in process. They’re not at the end of the journey. They’re in the journey, and that’s something we can write about forever.”
 
-The Reality:
While you can’t blame CBS for relying on the talent of current sitcom king Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory), the endless fat jokes in the pilot were monotonous and there was nothing overtly edgy or interesting about the characters of Mike and Molly.  While no one expects a new sitcom to match the levels of former occupant The Big Bang Theory (which always built from Two and a Half Men among adults 18-49), erosion of an expected more than 30 percent could be fatal.  

-Chance of Survival for Mike & Molly (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
5-1

-Did You Know?:
The last sitcom that focused on the issue of weight was NBC’s short-lived The Dumplings, which aired in first quarter 1976 and featured James Coco and Geraldine Brooks as a hefty married couple who ran a lunch counter in a Manhattan based office building.   

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Hawaii Five-O
Monday 10 p.m.

-The Premise:
The day to day operations of the fictional Hawaiian State Police department are the focus of this revival of the classic 1968-80 crime drama.  Alex O’Loughlin steps in for Jack Lord as Det. Steve McGarrett, with Scott Caan as Danny Williams and Lost star Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly.  

-Lead-in: Mike & Molly
-Competition: Castle (ABC), Chase (NBC)

-Who Was on the Panel:
Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan; and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Peter Lenkov.
 
-The Scoop:
Alex O’Loughlin on finding his first hit series:

“I don't want to take anything away from the other shows I've done.  I've worked with some incredible people and some wonderful show-runners.  But the thing is there's a reason things either work or don't work in television.  And I don't know what the answer is.  I just sort of keep blundering along to the next thing and hoping.  But the team behind this, I mean, the two men here who are at the helm of this show, Peter and Alex, and the writing staff that we have -- everyone feels so capable.  I read the pilot, I did the pilot, and I saw what they did with it.  And there's something special about it.  So, if this one doesn't go, I'm completely bewildered.  I have no idea how television works at all.

-The Reality:
Based on the recent track record (think Melrose Place, Knight Rider and Bionic Woman; and no, returning 90210 is not a hit), you might think the odds are stacked against a new version of classic Hawaii 5-0.  Factor in unproven lead-in Mike and Molly and growing Castle on ABC, and this new Hawaii Five-O could face an uphill battle.  But viewers still crave crime solvers, the format seems comfortably familiar, and there is just something about that still wildly popular TV theme song.  While I personally am not a fan of revivals, this new version stands a good chance of succeeding.

-Chance of Survival for Hawaii Five-O (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
3-1

-Did You Know?:
The original version of Hawaii Five-O ran on CBS from 1968-80, making it the longest running crime drama in the history of television (one month longer that ABC’s NYPD Blue).

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The Defenders
Wednesday 10 p.m.

-The Premise:
Jerry O’Connell and former According to Jim star Jim Belushi play two outspoken Las Vegas attorneys who do whatever it takes to defend their clients.   

-Lead-in: Criminal Minds
-Competition: The Whole Truth (ABC), Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC)

-Who Was on the Panel:
Jim Belushi, Jerry O’Connell, Jurnee Smollett, Tanya Fischer; executive producers Carol Mendelsohn, Harry Gantz and Joe Gants; executive producer/creator/writer Kevin Kennedy and Niels Muller; and executive producer/show-runner Greg Walker.  
 
 -The Scoop:
Jim Belushi on the difference between The Defenders and According to Jim:

“It’s just a different style of performing, you know, a different style of acting. I’ve been making films, been on stage since 1980. So I’ve done all of this before, dramas, comedy.  But I guess, because of According to Jim, people think that that’s the persona that I am. But I have played characters like this before in movies with Oliver Stone and Michael Mann. So the only challenging thing is the endurance of an hour episodic series. They shoot all the time, all year. And sitcoms, you are rewriting every day. The first script on Monday is not the script you are shooting on Friday. It’s a different — the math is different. Everything is about comic rhythms and timing, and this is about story, relationships. So I’m really excited about it. It’s really terrific. But, again, the challenge is the hours.”
 
-The Reality:
Opposite new drama entries The Whole Truth on ABC and Law & Order: Los Angeles, nothing is proven in the Wednesday 10 p.m. hour.  So, this could be beneficial to any of the three new series.  And based on lead-in, The Defenders has the best chance of succeeding.  But the pilot was a bore, Jim Belushi is thought of as a bad sitcom actor, and the built in familiarity of the new competing Law & Order gives that hour the advantage.  While there could be initial sampling, the biggest case The Defenders might have is to explain is the expected lackluster ratings.  

-Chance of Survival for The Defenders (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
8-1

-Did You Know?:
There was a crime drama of the same name that aired on CBS from 1961-65.  E.G. Marshall played a knowledgeable, seasoned attorney with more than 20 years experience, and future Brady Bunch Dad Robert Reed his also lawyer son.  While the name may be the same, this version of The Defenders is not what you would call a revival.  

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Blue Bloods
Friday 10 p.m.

-The Premise:
A multigenerational family of New York based cops is the focus of this crime solver.  The ensemble cast includes Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Flex Alexander, Len Cariou, Will Estes and Dylan Moore.  

-Lead-in: CSI: NY
-Competition: 20/20 (ABC), Outlaw (NBC)

-Who Was on the Panel:
Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg; and executive producers Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green.
 
-The Scoop:
What sets Blue Bloods apart from other typical TV crime dramas, according to Robin Green:

“When we heard about this show - Leonard Goldberg pitched it to us, and he said, “It’s a police procedural that’s also a family show.” And we said, “Why hasn’t anybody done this before?” And maybe they have, but I can’t remember. I don’t know of it. So that’s what intrigued us. Of course, you know that we’re family-show writers. I think that’s what makes it unique, that you really get to live the police life with these people.”

If you are fan of the ongoing Jesse Stone made-for TV movies, meanwhile, Tom Selleck assured the audience the franchise will continue.

“Number seven is ready to go,” said Selleck.  “It’s called “Innocents Lost.”  And I made it real clear that I wasn’t going give up Jesse, so we’re writing number eight.”

-The Reality:
The inherent disadvantage of any new show airing on Friday is, similar to Saturday, the growing lack of interest in the evening.  But the networks refuse to abandon ship and relocated lead-in CSI: NY is the strongest show on the night.  So, there is some hope for Blue Bloods.  While there is no reason to think the generic crime solver will strike it rich in the ratings, decent support and weak competition (ABC’s deteriorating 20/20 and unproven NBC drama Outlaw) could be beneficial.  At best, you can anticipate a performance similar to former time period occupant Numb3rs two years earlier.  
 
-Chance of Survival for Blue Bloods (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
5-1

-Did You Know?:
Ten years after Magnum. P.I. concluded, Tom Selleck headlined a short-lived CBS sitcom with Ed Asner called The Closer.  Selleck played an advertising agency executive.  

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$#*! My Dad Says
Thursday 8:30 p.m.

-The Premise:
Based on the Twitter feed, William Shatner headlines this comedic tale of an outspoken old man who can no longer take care of himself and the son who moves back home as his caregiver.  

-Lead-in: The Big Bang Theory
-Competition: My Generation (ABC), 30 Rock (NBC), Bones (Fox), The Vampire Diaries (CW)

-Who Was on the Panel:
William Shatner; executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick; and co-executive producer Justin Halpern.
 
-The Scoop:
David Kohan and Max Mutchnick on recasting one of the sons and re-shooting the pilot:

“Well, I guess the character isn't going to be changing that much except inasmuch as that there this kind of alchemy that goes on,” said Kohan.  “You cast an actor, and the role necessarily changes because the person inhabiting that character changes.  And you end up writing to whom that actor is to a certain degree, but the dynamic also changes.”

“We're telling the same story, and all of the things that we thought were great about the pilot that we first shot will be in the second take,” said Mutchnick.  “The same team is in place.  Jim Burrows will be directing.  And we just kind of streamlined -- we're streamlining the first paths of the pilot, and this love story that we had threaded into the first pilot, we've taken out because we saw that there was so much fun in just writing this buddy-buddy comedy.”  
            
-The Reality:
Sitcoms airing on CBS in the Thursday 8 p.m. is, no doubt, an enormous risk.  The last time the Eye net opened with comedies in the hour was in the fall of 1965 with Gilligan’s Island and My Three Sons.  That’s right…45 years ago!  But the good news is red-hot relocated lead-in The Big Bang Theory, which will definitely give it support.  And competing 30 Rock on NBC is not what you would call a ratings hit.  So, there could be room for $#*! My Dad Says, which is generating early interest from the controversial title and popular Twitter feed.  Let’s just hope, however, that episodes two and beyond are a major improvement from the generically dull pilot.  

-Chance of Survival for $#*! My Dad Says (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):
5-1

-Did You Know?:
William Shatner, to-date, has appearing in six regularly scheduled series as follows:

For the People (CBS): 1965,
Star Trek (NBC): 1966-69
The  Barbary Coast (ABC): 1975-76
T.J. Hooker (ABC): 1982-85, CBS: 1985-87 (late night)
The Practice (ABC): 2004
Boston Legal (ABC): 2004-08