"The TV Guys" with Terrence Moss & Jordan Walker: An E-Conversation About CBS

posted Mar 27, 2013, 5:48 PM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Mar 27, 2013, 5:58 PM ]

Last week my twitter buddy Jordan Walker (of the blog TV Talk with JWalk) and I had an email exchange about the return of “The Voice” and “Revolution” on NBC, which I posted on my blog last weekend.

Jordan then suggested we have similar e-conversations about CBS, ABC and FOX.

First up is CBS. My responses are in italics.

Let's proceed on this journey to analyze the most stable broadcast network. Although they are the most stable, it doesn't mean they don't have their own fair share of problems - which I think they do.  

CBS doesn't have any major foreseeable problems, yet, but they need to start acting fast before they slump in the ratings like NBC. I always say what goes up, must eventually come down (I think more people may actually say that too).

You are so right. And Les Moonves' claim that CBS doesn't need to fill many holes next season is very concerning. It could indicate a continued reliance on those aging hits as well as a lack of understanding that while their schedule is comparatively more stable than the other networks, it isn't so much in comparison to its previous seasons. 

One thing CBS needs to do is start focusing on finding new hits to replace their old ones in a few years, because their shows aren't going to last forever, and in my opinion the only (new/er) shows that I can possibly see being successful in the ratings for the next few years are “Person of Interest" and "Elementary." What CBS really needs to go is focus on keeping their comedy dominance. The only show they can really depend on four seasons down the road is "2 Broke Girls," and while it may be possible to build shows around that, it's better to start now that before it's too late.

Because their leadership is the most consistent (Moonves has been at the helm for the better part of two decades), I don't see any danger of becoming the new NBC. What he was able to orchestrate with the network in the late 90s and early 2000s was a TRUE rebuilding that the prideful NBC needs to emulate. 

That said, they DEFINITELY need to continue to look farther ahead than it seems that have been. "Partners", "How to Be a Gentleman" and "Shit My Dad Says" (which couldhave been a much better show) don't seem to have retrospectively been true efforts to expand their comedy success beyond "Two and a Half Men" and "Big Bang".

I actually don't think "2 Broke Girls" has that long. I would say two or three more years at the most -- especially if "Mom" with Anna Faris turns into the likely hit CBS sorely needs. "Person of Interest" has the most life left in it -- that, and "NCIS" (which is clearly on the “Law & Order” longevity track). 

With "How I Met Your Mother" departing next season and "Two and a Half Men" hanging onto dear life, those are two guaranteed hits leaving next year (I don't know how long CBS and Warner Bros. are actually going to keep "Men" alive, but after 13 seasons, that show has to be getting expensive each season). It's looking like utility player "Rules of Engagement" is finally being put to rest, even though it lasted 7 seasons and 100 episode - very impressive (and surprising). "Mike and Molly" is just one of those "there" sitcoms – average ratings, no critical acclaim, and nobody will notice that being gone. The bigger problem with "Mike and Molly" is Melissa McCarthy's movie career. She's not going to want to be tied down to that sitcom forever, I don't care how many Emmys she gets nominated for. I say she leaves after her 6(?) year contract is up. That's 2 seasons away. 

The renewal of "How I Met Your Mother" for a NINTH season reflects the state of the network's comedy slate. This should have been the last. "Two and a Half Men" should have one more season (its eleventh) for the sake of its continued high ratings and then just be done. Great take on "Mike & Molly". I give it one or two more seasons as well because of McCarthy's movie career. I am sure there is a contractual out should she choose to exercise it. I like her but her 2011 Emmy win still perplexes me. 

I'm also surprised "Rules of Engagement" made it this far. 


That leaves "Big Bang Theory" which Jim Parsons believes can run 10 years -- and I agree. But in four seasons will it still be pulling 18-20 million viewers a week and a 5.5+ in the demo? Highly unlikely, but with the success of that show, who knows? 

It can run 10 years but will the cast remain intact for ten years?? My guess is that it will coast at these ratings for another season before declining in the final three seasons but still remain well above 10 million viewers. 

That's why I stress CBS needs to kick its comedy department in high gear! Ordering just TWO new sitcoms a year isn't cutting it anymore, especially when they create duds like "Partners, "Shit My Dad Says," "Rob," and "How to Be a Gentleman" - even though "Rob" and "Dad Says" were both the highest rated cancelled shows of their seasons (that's a fact!). They still have the comedy "Friend Me" this season that still hasn't been given a timeslot. I'm assuming they don't have any faith in the show since it’s almost April and nowhere to be found.  

I forgot about "Rob". I actually liked that show as a whole, but it definitely had its weaknesses. I don't even remember anything about "Friend Me". They should just burn it off in the summer and move on.

Every network as that one problem timeslot and I fully believe CBS' is Tuesday at 10p.m. Besides "The Good Wife", I don't think a show has lived in that timeslot for two or more seasons since "Judging Amy" ended - I could be wrong.  "The Good Wife" did better on Tuesdays than on Sundays in total viewers, but not in the demo - which will prevent it from returning to that slot next year. "Vegas" is sure to get cancelled, which surprises me because that was one of the hot pilots of this season. Most likely CBS will slot "NCIS: Red" at 10 nest season, provided that CBS picks it up and I don't see the reason it won't. It's great that CBS has a "NCIS" franchise now like they did with "CSI" and NBC did with "L&O," but I don't think it’s a good idea to have a night full of "NCIS." The ratings prove otherwise, but if you have 2 (maybe 3 powerhouses if "Red" gets picked up and attracts ratings like the first 2), spread that power around your schedule! Keep "NCIS" on Tuesdays at 8, that's a no brainer.  

Tuesdays at 10pm: "The 'Judging Amy' curse. No series as worked in that time slot since it was cancelled in 2006. As much as I think a night of NCIS could be a mistake, I don't see where else the new spinoff could go. It has a built-in franchise audience and I give the “NCIS” spinoff the best shot at succeeding in that “cursed” time slot. Plus CBS would be stupid to risk their Tuesday nights by separating the two existing NCIS shows.

"The Good Wife" is poorly scheduled on Sundays because of its somewhat serialized nature and inconsistent airings on account of football in the fall (both the CBS overruns and NBC's "SNF"). It deserves the solid Monday night audience coming in from the comedy block. 

Sundays should be unscripted night during football with "The Amazing Race", "Survivor" and "Undercover Boss". Those shows can better absorb scheduling inconsistencies. The spring can belong to the lighter male-skewing procedurals -- "The Mentalist", "Hawaii Five-O" and the new "Beverly Hills Cop". I certainly hope that doesn't get a prime slot, but with Eddie Murphy involved, it probably will. Blargh. 

This is the move that I'd make: "NCIS: Red" to Wednesdays. That night is already jammed pack but I think this may be able to work. "Survivor", with only one edition to make room for 13 episodes of a new drama, and "Criminal Minds" stay put in their normal timeslots with "Red" at 10. I'm only doing this because "Criminal Minds" is still a strong show and can help "Red" establish an audience. Just because "Red" is a "NCIS" spinoff, doesn't mean viewers will flock to that spinoff (see "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior"). 

I am so 100% in agreement with you on the one edition of "Survivor" -- same for "Amazing Race" -- if for no other reason than to keep them going longer than is reasonable. But I would move "Survivor" to Sundays in the fall and open up a new single cam comedy block leading into "Criminal Minds" and "CSI". The more comedies they order, the more chances they have at launching new hits. And quickly. 

Good point about “Suspect Behavior”. Also “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” almost a decade ago.

CBS NEEDS to capitalize on NBC's weakness and lack of a Thursday comedy tentpole and schedule comedies from 8-10 on Thursdays. Having "Big Bang" and "Men" as lead-ins at 8 and 9 will ensure two new successful comedies at 830/930. They can do what NBC did in that 90s/early 2000s with "Friends" and "Seinfeld"/"Frasier" - the new shows will be guaranteed to grab ratings from the lead-ins. In the process, find new comedy hits that may be able to stand on their own on different nights in upcoming seasons. Also, I'd push "Big Bang" to 9 to kill the competition and "Men" to 8, so you'd have a nice upward trajectory in the ratings as the night progresses.  

With "Person of Interest" doing so well, they'd be better off keeping it where it is to lead into a new drama. If there is a comedy expansion, "Person of Interest" should be pushed back to 10 but the surging "Scandal" could be even more of a concern for any new series in the time slot. It's breaking out now but stands to be a real force and improve on its "Grey's" lead-in across the board. 

Given its lowbrow frat-boy humor, I don’t think “Men” can or should lead-off the night.

With 2 new possible comedies on Thursday, and an open slot on Mondays at 830, that's three new fall comedies and possibly 2 more for midseason. If they wanted another comedy timeslot, I'd treat "Mike and Molly" like the new "Rules of Engagement." Keep that as a utility player, 13-16 episodes a season and I'm sure wherever you slot that the audience will follow. It'll also give Melissa McCartney more time for her movie career.  

That's a good, radical idea. I hadn't thought of that. This opens up the network to a possible three new hours of comedy programming. CBS has been wisely strategic in recent years to both maintain their viewership lead and remain competitive in the demo. This year, they need to take more ""Big Bang' to Thursday"-type of risks.  

I'd keep "Elementary" at 10 and move "Persons of Interest" to Tuesdays at 10. This way CBS has the 9pm slot open for them to slot a new drama to piggy back off of "NCIS" ratings. Although, I think "Persons" or "Elementary" could move to Tuesdays and this theory will still prove successful. 

Given the lack of a Super Bowl bump, "Elementary" isn't going to break out. Its current audience is going to be its audience -- consistent, loyal and great for Friday nights with "Blue Bloods" and "CSI: NY" (if the latter gets renewed). I would like them to keep it all scripted and save "Undercover Boss" for Sundays in the fall. 

I would definitely keep "Person of Interest" on Thursdays.  

With "CSI: NY" destined to be cancelled this season, I think a Friday night lineup of "Undercover Boss" or a new drama at 8pm, "The Good Wife" at 9, "Blue Bloods at 10. 

I can abide "The Good Wife" on Fridays but given the fact that it is such a prestige Emmy-winning show, they'll schedule it for a better night -- even though Friday nights isn't the death knell for shows like it is for other networks. 

Sundays would consist of "60 Minutes," "The Amazing Race" at 8 - with only edition a year to make room for 13 episodes of a new drama - the relocation of "CSI" at 9 and and new drama series at 10. 

Bold. But I would still keep "CSI" on Wednesdays. It's consistent. For the fall, "Amazing Race", "Undercover Boss" and Survivor" (not necessarily in that order) to absorb scheduling inconsistencies due to football. For the spring, lighter male-skewing dramas "The Mentalist", "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Hawaii Five-O". 

I'd cancel "Golden Boy" 

If they cancel "CSI: NY", I would keep "Golden Boy" for Fridays. It deserves more time.

We’ll have all our answers when CBS presents their fall schedule in May.