Adweek’s week-long look at each broadcast network’s new fall shows continues today with CBS, which came in No. 2 in adults ages 18-49 last season, while, as usual, winning in total viewers. But the network is gunning for the top spot this year, and with Super Bowl 50 airing in February, TV’s most-watched comedy in The Big Bang Theory, and several returning freshman hits from last season (including Scorpion, NCIS: New Orleans, and Madam Secretary), chances are very good the network will succeed.
What will likely help put them over the top is the network’s solid crop of fall shows, which is the strongest overall group of any network. More than any other broadcaster, CBS knows its audience well and routinely gravitates to new programs that are on brand for the network: procedurals, multi-camera sitcoms and the occasional spinoff. This season, however, the network has tiptoed a wee bit outside its comfort zone—both new fall comedies are single-camera, for starters—while continuing to stay safely on-brand.
But the network’s biggest swing this fall is also its best new show: CBS flies onto the superhero bandwagon with Supergirl, which arrives in late October and will kick off the network’s first sitcom-free Monday night lineup since 1949. (CBS notes that both Supergirl and another show coming later this fall, Angel From Hell, are still works in progress, and those pilots could still change before they air. But for this story, we’ll be using the version of the pilot that was provided to critics and buyers.)
As I mentioned Monday when discussing NBC’s new series, while a pilot isn’t always the best way to judge a show’s ultimate potential, it’s often the only episode that audiences watch before making their decision whether to stick around or cut bait, especially given all the other new and returning shows also fighting for attention. With that in mind, here are CBS’s fall shows, ranked from least promising to most promising.