By RICK KISSELL
Much of the spring’s pre-upfront sked chatter focused on whether CBS would expand its comedy presence on Thursday. But when the net ordered just two new comedies (along with four new dramas), it became more likely that it would keep things status quo on the important night.
And sure enough the net did just that, sticking with its two-comedy, two-drama template on Thursday. And by moving vet laffer “Two and a Half Men” to the post-“Big Bang Theory” slot on Thursday, CBS instantly became a stronger player in the night’s opening hour. The move will give “Person of Interest” a stronger lead-in, which in turn should help the net’s big drama hope of fall, “Elementary.”
While some may wonder why “Two and a Half Men” got the Thursday 8:30 slot, CBS was probably frustrated at leaving so many ratings points on the table at 8:30 with clunkers like “Bleep My Dad Says” and “How to be a Gentleman,” while at the same time liking its new dramas more than any of its new comedies. And even if “Men” goes away after this upcoming season, it will have done its job if it can provide enough of a boost to establish the young “Person of Interest” and “Elementary” as the Eye’s next great crime-solving combo.
CBS appears poised for a strong Thursday, but it may have left itself a bit vulnerable on Monday, where “Partners” will probably have a tough time matching the performance of “2 Broke Girls” at 8:30. But if the crude-com can perform at about or above the level of “Two and a Half Men” in its new, more appropriate 9 o’clock slot, it’s a fairly low-risk move.
Monday 9:30 p.m. comedy “Mike & Molly” was a popular choice of schedule-guessers to shift to another night, but in the end CBS probably liked what it had in the blue collar comedy’s performance in the timeslot, especially the way the show meshed well with the demographics of “Hawaii Five-0” behind it at 10.
Tuesday returns mostly intact, with the “NCIS” duo followed at 10 by “Vegas” (pictured above). There was some thought that CBS would slide a new drama between the two “NCIS” shows, but again why mess with a good thing when the hour you really want to improve is 10 o’clock? And “Vegas” is not a cookie-cutter CBS crime drama, so it probably wasn’t going to hold onto as much of the “NCIS” audience as “NCIS: Los Angeles.” CBS probably also likes knowing that it has a show, which should generate a lot of buzz and attract a sizable male audience, up against not-so-tough, female-skewing vets “Parenthood” and “Private Practice.”
Wednesday is one night that figured to stay put, and it does, while Friday will see some changes with “CSI: NY” moving down to 8 o’clock, and the new legal drama “Made in Jersey” replacing it at 9. Followed at 10 by New York cop drama “Blue Bloods,” this lineup should fare well among the 35-plus audience — especially in the tri-State area — but it’s hard to see the net leading the night in demos as it has in recent years.
Sunday is seeing minimal change, as the net knows that late starts for the lineup due to football make it difficult for a new show to take root. The 7-10 p.m. shows remain the same, with one crime vet (“The Mentalist”) replacing another (the cancelled “CSI: Miami”) at 10. “Mentalist” seems to be coming to the night with a little more momentum than “CSI: Miami,” so there’s a chance the net could grow in the final hour. “Good Wife” could benefit from the departure of “Desperate Housewives” on ABC, though the Alphabet figures to remain a femme force in the hour with “Revenge.”
CBS also would seem to be set for midseason, with Greg Berlanti cop drama “Golden Boy” a flexible hour that can fit in any number of timeslots, including on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Sunday. And the buddy comedy “Friend Me” can play on either Monday or Thursday.
Once again, the CBS moves and overall strategy make sense, and the net appears headed for another solid season — with nice growth potential on Thursday and a chance for gains on Tuesday and perhaps Sunday as well.