Crime show, crime show, Charlie Sheen, crime show, crime show.
CBS on Wednesday unveiled its new fall schedule--a schedule that didn't look too unlike its old fall schedule, and a schedule that looked a lot like the prototypical network lineup of the mid-2000s, light on the comedy, heavy on the hourlong law-and-order drama.
Because the show actually called Law & Order airs on NBC, CBS, TV's most-watched network, will make do with CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home, Numb3rs, Cold Case and Without a Trace, all renewed.
In an apparent oversight, The Unit, which is not about cops, lawyers, forensic experts and/or amateur psychic detectives, also was renewed.
So as to leaven David Caruso, CBS reupped three of its Monday-night comedies: How I Met Your Mother, the freshman sitcom that started big, made a star anew of Neil Patrick Harris, but pooped out in the ratings in the spring; Two and a Half Men, the steady Sheen vehicle that rates, nominally, as TV's most-watched half-hour laugher; and The New Adventures of Old Christine, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus midseason bid to break the Seinfeld curse.
The King of Queens, another Monday-night comedy, was renewed for a ninth season, but it will be deployed as a midseason replacement, not as a fall starter. Reports say as few as 13 episodes will be made, a flextime plan to allow sitcom star Kevin James to establish himself as movie star Kevin James.
With so many series coming back--18 in all, including six survivors from the 2005-06 freshman class--CBS had room for but two new crime shows, one new comedy, and for the kids, one new show about nuclear annihilation. The network also announced three new midseason shows.
Here's a brief rundown of the new product: Smith (fall): Ray Liotta stars in this hourlong crime show as an "expert thief" who wants out of the business, but like Michael Corleone, keeps getting pulled back in. Virginia Madsen, of Sideways, and Jonny Lee Miller, once of Angelina Jolie, costar. Shark (fall): James Woods stars in this hourlong crime show as a "charismatic, supremely self-confident" actor, sorry, defense attorney who becomes a prosecutor. With Jeri Ryan as the hotshot newcomer's hard-nosed boss. The Class (fall): In this half-hour comedy, a group of friends, no, not those Friends, reconnect at a third-grade reunion. As a point of authenticity, the third-grade reunion is "impromptu," not planned. Joan of Arcadia's Jason Ritter is the most familiar name in the cast. Jericho (fall): This hourlong drama, slotted against the soufflî that is ABC's Dancing with the Stars, looks at "what happens when a nuclear mushroom clouds suddenly appears on the horizon." That's only the start of the good times for a small Kansas town, as soon, "terror, anger and confusion bring out the very worst in some residents." Starring Skeet Ulrich, Gerald McRaney and "social, psychological and physical mayhem." 3 LBS (midseason): An hourlong hospital drama about brain surgeons. Waterfront (midseason): An hourlong drama about Joey Pants as mayor of a town--Providence, Rhode Island--previously populated by Melina Kanakaredes' family-friendly clan. Rules of Engagement (midseason): A half-hour comedy about "two couples and a single guy." Starring Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton. Not picked up was My Ex-Life, a comedy pilot starring Tom Cavanagh and Lost casualty Cynthia Watros.
Cavanagh's previous CBS series, Love Monkey, was one of the few fast flameouts of the past season for the network. Other cancellation victims: Still Standing and Yes, Dear, the veteran comedies; Out of Practice, the newbie sitcom; Threshold, the newbie sci-fi thriller; and, Courting Alex, the failed Jenna Elfman comeback.
In the splashiest fall programming ploy, CBS will uproot Top 10 hit Without a Trace from Thursdays at 10 p.m. to Sundays at 10 p.m. The move is an apparent attempt to make things uncomfortable for ABC, which will go there with a freshman series, Brothers & Sisters. The incumbent time-slot king, ABC's Grey's Anatomy, is bound for Thursdays at 9 p.m.
On the reality-TV front, CBS will start the fall with two stalwarts: the Emmy-winning Amazing Race, relocating to Sundays from Tuesdays; and the weakening, but still-surviving Survivor.
And in what would have been big news 25 years ago when made-for-TV movies were king, and Lindsay Wagner was their queen, CBS has dropped The CBS Sunday Night Movie. The franchise was hammered in recent years by HBO, which won all the Emmys, and Desparate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, which took all the ratings.
CBS had had a Sunday night movie block since 1986; it had programmed at least one movie night since 1964.
Here's a night-by-night look at CBS' fall lineup:
SUNDAY: 60 Minutes; The Amazing Race; Cold Case; Without a Trace
MONDAY: How I Met Your Mother; The Class; Two and a Half Men; The New Adventures of Old Christine; CSI: Miami
TUESDAY: NCIS; The Unit; Smith
WEDNESDAY: Jericho; Criminal Minds; CSI: NY
THURSDAY: Survivor; CSI; Shark
FRIDAY: Ghost Whisperer; Close to Home; Numb3rs
SATURDAY: Crime show reruns; 48 Hours: Mystery