CBS is clearing the deck for new series, making a primetime purge on Tuesday that included the surprise cancellations of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Ghost Whisperer.”
The Eye prides itself on stability and generally keeps shakeups to a minimum when it reveals its fall sked. But CBS’ lineup is aging, and the net likely sees this as a good year to make some changes — particularly given the sheer number of new series being launched by rivals NBC and ABC. As a result, CBS will open up several new timeslots by getting rid not only of “Old Christine” and “Ghost Whisperer” but also of dramas “Cold Case,” “Miami Medical” and “Numbers” along with comedies “Gary Unm arried” and “Accidentally on Purpose.”
Left standing in the bubble rubble: “Medium” (which CBS picked up last year from NBC) and comedy “Rules of Engagement.”
Those at most of Tuesday’s axed shows saw it coming. But not necessarily the staffs of “Old Christine” and “Ghost Whisperer,” both of which perform solidly enough that renewals wouldn’t have been out of the question.
Insiders said Warner Bros. TV execs began to realize something was up when CBS kept talk of “Old Christine” to radio silence. With no license fee renegotiation taking place, the writing was apparently on the wall.
ABC had a deal in place last year to pick up “Old Christine” if CBS dumped it. But this year, the Alphabet has a healthier stable of laffers and doesn’t necessarily need “Old Christine.”
Nonetheless, ABC topper Steve McPherson said earlier Tuesday — before he knew the show was available — that he’d be interested in looking at the property if it became up for grabs.
“Ghost Whisperer,” meanwhile, may still have a pulse thanks to ABC. Jennifer Love Hewitt drama is a co-production between ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios, so a deal may be feasible in transferring the show from one sibling network to another.
And indeed, ABC scheduling chief Jeff Bader said the net even toyed with the idea of “Ghost Whisperer” on Fridays at 8, should it become available.
“We talked a lot about it,” Bader said. “It could make a good lead-in to (new crime drama) ‘Body of Proof.’ ”
Net will likely kick the tires on “Ghost Whisperer.” It all comes down to economics, and whether the net wants to divert some programming funds to pick up a CBS castoff. And there’s also the issue of running two scripted dramas on Friday, where the net currently has a reality series at 8 p.m. as a cost-containment move.
But “Ghost” and star Hewitt may be too good an opportunity to pass up. And it may even make more sense than “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
None of the CBS cancellations should ultimately be deemed a shocker, however, as all seven shows have performed just so-so.
“Ghost Whisperer” has averaged a timeslot-leading 2.1 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 8.2 million viewers. “Cold Case” posted a 2.3/6 in the demo and 9.8 million viewers. “Miami Medical” had averaged 1.4/5 in the demo and 7.2 million viewers.
Among the comedies, “Old Christine” was pulling in 6.7 million viewers and a 2.0/6 with adults 18-49, while “Gary Unmarried” averaged a 2.2/6 with demos and 6.7 million viewers. Helped earlier in the season by a strong “How I Met Your Mother” lead-in, “Accidentally on Purpose” was averaging a 2.7/7 in the demo and 7.5 million viewers — but the Jenna Elfman comedy dropped after it moved to Wednesdays. “Gary” has also not made much noise as of late.
The cancellation of all three Wednesday sitcom players may lead to speculation that CBS will move one of its Monday players to the night, perhaps even “Two and a Half Men” or “How I Met Your Mother,” which could slide into the hour and be paired with “$#*! My Dad Says.”
Elsewhere, the cancellations make room for new dramas “Hawaii Five-O,” “Defenders” and “Blue Bloods.” (The “Criminal Minds” spinoff is still rumored for a midseason launch, although that could change now that several holes are open.)
The ax opens up Sundays at 10, Wednesdays at 8, and Fridays at 8 and 10.
Back to the cancellations: “Numbers” has actually been over for some time, as the show ended its run and its stars went off to star in new pilots (including Rob Morrow, now in ABC’s drama “The Whole Truth”).
And neither “Cold Case” nor “Miami Medical” were expected to return. Bruckheimer TV still has reason to be upbeat this season, having landed newbies “Chase” on NBC and “The Whole Truth” on ABC. But the company’s execs were disappointed that “Miami Medical” didn’t get more of a shot on CBS as a midseason entry this spring.
“Rainy day brings gloomy news with ‘Cold Case’ and ‘Miami Medical’ not being renewed,” Bruckheimer TV prexy Jonathan Lit tman wrote on Twitter.