First impressions of the fall lineups. Grades are subject to revision – TV works on a curve – at the close of the upfront festivities.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with the “CSI” franchise. Yes, there will be plenty more corpses in its future, but the multi-headed program’s best days are clearly behind it, which explains why all three “CSI’s” have now been relocated into less-signficant timeslots, paving the way for some new blood on CBS.
As for that new blood, based on Wednesday’s upfront presentation, it looks pretty good. After a stretch where most of CBS’ drama development began with an existing title followed by a colon, both “Unforgettable” and “Person of Interest” seem to stretch a bit creatively while still offering the chalk-outline crowd something within their comfort zone. In addition, “Unforgettable” stands a better chance of hanging on to the “NCIS” block’s audience than “The Good Wife” did, creating an upside on Tuesday, even if I don’t give “Wife” much chance of finding happiness in its new Sunday digs.
Turning to the sitcoms, “2 Broke Girls,” starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, actually contained a couple of legitimate laughs — which, based on the presentations, puts it ahead of most sitcoms I’ve seen thus far — and the casting seems especially good. And while I’m significantly less bullish on “How to be a Gentleman,” hey, it couldn’t be a whole lot worse than that talking-dad thing.
In a broader sense, CBS’ casting team earned its spurs this year. Even a show that doesn’t look particularly interesting, “A Gifted Man,” has Patrick Wilson — who feels like a CBS star — as do Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel (“Jesus! We got the guy who played Jesus!”) and Poppy Montgomery.
CBS also engages in chest-thumping like nobody else quite can, constantly reminding the ad buyers how stable and targeted its lineup is. “We don’t rebuild. We reload,” CEO Leslie Moonves told the crowd, while CBS Entertainmnet Prez Nina Tassler talked about how ‘very selective” she could afford to be and what a ‘high-class problem” that is.
For those who don’t speak fluent CBS, here’s a rough translation: Let those losers at NBC and ABC throw tons of crap at the wall hoping something will stick. We can afford to play it safer, knowing our viewers are less likely to turn (or clap) us off.
Say what you want about it, but it’s been a winning strategy.
Preliminary grade: B+
P.S. Oh, and Ashton Kutcher? Didn’t look insane. So “winning.”