CBS is expected to announce a fall schedule today that makes few bold changes, but leaves some high-profile series on the cutting-room floor.
Among the shows that won’t be returning to the Eye web’s fall schedule are Steven Bochco’s “Brooklyn South,” which was last year’s most-hyped new CBS drama; “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” a longtime Saturday night staple; the David Caruso starrer “Michael Hayes”; and Bryant Gumbel’s newsmagazine “Public Eye.”
In fact, 12 of the shows on last year’s fall schedule, including veterans “Murphy Brown” and “Cybill,” are now gone, and not a single one of last fall’s new freshman shows will be back. Eye web sources say some of the series that didn’t make the fall cut could return midseason.
CBS has ordered three comedies and four dramas, and the Eye web has an ownership stake in six of the seven shows — possibly an unprecedented number. Five of the seven new series were originally developed by CBS Prods. with their studio partners, and CBS negotiated ownership in one series, Columbia TriStar TV’s “King of Queens,” right before deciding to pick it up (Daily Variety, May 19).
The Aaron Spelling drama “Buddy Farrow,” which will air Fridays at 9 p.m., is the one new series that CBS will not co-produce.
Two nights of the Eye web’s new schedule will remain completely unchanged this fall: the high-rated Sunday lineup of “60 Minutes,” “Touched by an Angel” and the Sunday movie; and the Thursday sked, which has worked well as older-skewing counter-programming to NBC’s juggernaut with “Promised Land,” Diagnosis Murder” and “48 Hours.”
In an attempt to keep things stable, six nights of the week this fall CBS will start the evening at 8 p.m. with the same series that air there now. Only Saturday will have a new 8 p.m. anchor, “Early Edition,” which shifts down from 9 p.m. to replace “Dr. Quinn.” Just one other returning series, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” will change time slots, moving from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays.
Taking “Early Edition’s” place Saturday at 9 p.m. slot is the new series “Martial Law,” an action show from 20th Century Fox and CBS Prods. about a Hong Kong martial arts expert who teams up with some Los Angeles cops, which fits well as a lead-in to “Walker, Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris.
On Tuesday night, CBS will keep the drama “JAG” at 8 p.m., where it improved significantly this year, followed by the return of the Tuesday night movie that CBS scrapped last season. The Tuesday dramas CBS tried this year, including “Dellaventura,” “Michael Hayes” and “Four Corners,” were not successful, so CBS went back to the old game plan from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
On Wednesday, CBS will keep its 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. comedy block, led off by “The Nanny,” which will face ABC’s “Dharma & Greg,” NBC’s “Dateline” and the WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” this fall. A new CBSP/Greenblatt-Janollari comedy “Maggie Winters,” starring “Murphy Brown’s” Faith Ford as a divorcee, will slide into the 8:30 p.m. slot occupied by “Murphy Brown” most of the season.
The romantic dramedy “To Have and to Hold,” from CBS Prods. and Greenblatt-Janollari, will take over the 9 p.m. slot originally held by Bryant Gumbel’s newsmag last fall. It faces a tough challenge from ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show” and NBC’s “3rd Rock from the Sun.” “Chicago Hope” stays at 10 p.m.
Friday nights will feature returning midseason reality series “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and “Candid Camera” from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by “Buddy Farrow,” which is about young detectives teaming up with an old legend. “Nash Bridges” remains at 10 p.m.
‘Raymond’ faces challenge
On Monday nights, “Cosby” stays at 8 p.m., while “Everybody Loves Raymond” faces its first major challenge in an unprotected Monday timeslot at 9 p.m., probably against Fox’s “Ally McBeal.”
Filling in the satellite timeslots are the new comedies “King of Queens” at 8:30 p.m., and “The Benben Show” at 9:30 p.m.
“King of Queens” from Columbia TriStar and CBS Prods., is about a blue-collar couple in New York, whose extended family moves in, while “The Benben Show,” from Warner Bros. and CBS Prods., stars the former lead in “Dream On” as a TV anchor supplanted by a younger, good-looking anchor team.
“L.A. Docs,” a new drama from Columbia TriStar and CBS Prods., likely will air Mondays at 10.
Several of the new shows, including “Martial Law,” “L.A. Docs” and “King of Queens” represent an attempt to get more urban by setting series in large cities.
The new CBS schedule reflects a move away from its previous star-driven strategy. High profile series in development did not make the fall cut, including Melanie Griffith’s “Me and Henry” of which CBS had ordered 13 episodes, but the show may be revamped and could go mid-season. A remake of “Fawlty Towers” with John Larroquette was left behind, as was a buddy cop drama with Arsenio Hall called “Skip Chasers.”
The “Fawlty Towers” remake, called “Payne,” is expected, however, to get a midseason nod, as is a Studios USA drama called “Turks.” Another show confirmed for a mid-season berth is a Ted Danson sitcom from Paramount called “Becker.”
Also reflecting the successful stability strategy adopted by Fox last season, neither NBC, ABC nor CBS has made surprising scheduling shakeups. With the exception of ABC ditching its Sunday movie in favor of series, the basic structures of most nights at all three of the Big 3 webs appears to be returning intact.
It may be the season Fox shakes things up instead, possibly with a bold challenge to NBC on Thursday night.