CBS touches up schedule for fall

Fall TV Preview 2011-12: CBS

Having attracted the highest number of viewers in television for the eighth time in nine years, CBS has again decided to take just a few calculated risks to stay on top.

High-rated drama “The Good Wife” moves from Tuesday to Sunday. Vagabond comedy “Rules of Engagement” has relocated to Saturday, the first time in six years the network has aired an original program that night.

Three acclaimed actors have joined the fold. Charlie Sheen is gone (have you heard?), replaced by Ashton Kutcher on “Two and a Half Men.” Laurence Fishburne had a more amicable exit from “CSI,” with Ted Danson now fitted for his lab coat. And Terry O’Quinn joins former “Lost” co-star Daniel Dae Kim for a recurring role on “Hawaii Five-0.”

“We tend to look at the success or failure of certain shows for a single reason, when shows like ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘CSI’ are successful for so many reasons,” CBS programming chief Nina Tassler says. “And when you’re able to bring a new actor in, it’s like an electrical charge that elevates everything.”

Maintaining its run of stability, the Eye will launch five new series, the smallest freshman class of any network. Two shows have been given prime spots. One, “2 Broke Girls,” the new comedy exec produced by Michael Patrick King and standup Whitney Cummings, lands at 8:30 p.m. Mondays, between “How I Met Your Mother” and the retooled “Men.”

Crime-drama “Person of Interest,” which has pedigree producers J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan on board, will air at 9 p.m. Thursdays, with “CSI” moving to 10 p.m. Wednesdays. The “Person” pilot scored high with test audiences.

“We’ve got really smart showrunners who know how to balance that closed-end episodic structure to playing out a mystery over time,” Tassler says of the show.

If the numbers hold up, the show might have that luxury of time.


“2 Broke Girls”

If a network comedy from “Sex and the City” creator King didn’t put CBS’ standards and practices on high alert already, the behind-the-scenes presence of edgy stand-up comedian Cummings should put everyone on notice.

“The best part of doing a show is if you have sweet moments and dangerous moments right next to each other,” King says. “That said, I have many, many pages of questions: ‘Is this allowed?’ I guess we’ll find out.”

The show spotlights King’s female-relationship brand of comedy without the shopping sprees. Two struggling waitresses — one a dethroned socialite (Beth Behrs), the other a working-class stiff (Kat Dennings) — save up to open a cupcake business.

One other key departure for King — a laugh track.

“To have a loud, fresh, honest sensibility in front of a studio audience makes for an interesting vibe,” Cummings says.

NEW FOR 2011-12

“A Gifted Man”

Aims to pick up where now-silenced “Ghost Whisperer” left off in the 8 p.m. Friday slot, with Patrick Wilson playing a self-absorbed surgeon prodded by the spirit of his deceased ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) to find meaning in life. Timeslot and creator Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”) might give it a ghost of a chance.

“How To Be a Gentleman”

“Odd Couple” premise — an etiquette columnist (David Hornsby) reunites with rude dude pal (Kevin Dillon) from high school so he can learn rituals of modern man-children — sounds musty, but presence of Hornsby, also on board as creator, lends series some sunny (as in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) promise.

“Person of Interest”

Tassler promises this procedural, starring “Lost” alum Michael Emerson as a software billionaire who invents a program that predicts identities of people connected to violent crimes, won’t venture off into any of that ABC show’s patented tangents. “Every episode will have a resolution and emotional satisfaction,” Tassler says. But will that tidiness satisfy hardcore fans?


Procedural from the “Without a Trace” team stars Poppy Montgomery as a New York detective who has a rare condition that allows her to remember everything — except the details of her sister’s murder. Will try to hold viewers in the 10 p.m. Tuesday timeslot formerly occupied by “The Good Wife.”