Thursday, May 17, 2007


This is the week of "Upfronts", one of the Holy Weeks of O'Bligation in Televisiology, when each day a network steps up to the plate to announce its plans for the coming season - which shows stay, which are goners, and which pilots got picked up to be offered in sacrifice to the Powers That Be (Nielsen families).

CBS is in the spotlight next. So let's cast an eye on the Eye Network's proposals for next year:

First, let's see what's coming back:

The Amazing Race, Cold Case, 60 Minutes, How I Met Your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, CSI: Miami, NCIS, The Unit, Criminal Minds, CSI: NY, Survivor, CSI, Shark, Without A Trace, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, 48 Hours Mystery.

It looks to be the heftiest chunk of returnees among the networks, a sure sign of success.

Someday the big shocker will be that '60 Minutes' has been cancelled. But I don't see that happening for a very long time. The show that seemed to be in most danger of the Big Hiatus, and which is very dear to Yours Truly, was 'How I Met Your Mother'. Luckily, it's coming back and hopefully this time it will finally find the large audience it deserves.
Otherwise, CBS' stock in trade - the procedural - still commands a major chunk of the returning series.

However, CBS does recognize that there can be too much of a good thing, so they've decided to try something completely different with their new shows:

Viva Laughlin, Swingtown, Moonlight, Cane, Big Bang Theory, Power of 10, Kid Nation

'Kid Nation' is a reality show and 'Power of 10' is a game show, so they're outside the realm of interest for this televisiologist. But the others may prove tempting for some crossover wish-craft:

'Swingtown' is set in the free-sex early 70s. There will be some protests against the subject matter it presents, but those groups can't deny the conduct portrayed happened back then. What will be more nightmarish for me as a viewer is to see some of my wardrobe come back into view....

'Viva Laughlin' - This is based on the BBC show 'Blackpool' (which we got to see as 'Viva Blackpool' and it's about the Holden family as they run a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. It looks like it's from the same world you'd find several of the Dennis Potter mini-series, where dialogue is replaced by musical numbers. Or it could just be that Crossover Hall of Famer Sweet the Demon is back in town.

'Moonlight' was formerly entitled 'Twilight'. Not sure why that was changed. It could have evoked memories of 'The Twilight Zone', but maybe the CBS suits didn't want people thinking of 'The Boys Of Twilight' (which I happened to like, but then again I am a younger Wilford Brimley type.) However, 'Moonlight' could summon up ABC's old hit 'Moonlighting'.

Can't get much more different in type of show though. Sure, 'Moonlight' is also about a private eye, but this one is a vampire! What a shame it is that Darrin McGavin has passed away - the true Carl Kolchak teamed up with a vampire P.I. would have made a great Sweeps tale.

Otherwise, I don't think NBC would be very happy to see Sci-Fi's 'The Dresden Files' do a crossover with this show.

'Cane' is the Cuban-American 'Dallas'. The story intertwines two rival families in the sugar and rum industries and will star Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo, Rita Moreno, and Nestor Carbonell.

Carbonell's involvement seems almost to be a spoiler for what may come for Richard Alpert in 'Lost', but then again, it was over two years before we even met him. And look how long we go between appearances by Rose and Bernard among the Lostaways.

'Big Bang Theory' - A major plus for this series is that it was created by Chuck Lorre, who has a nearly perfect track record when it comes to sitcoms. This may not hold up that tradition, though - it's about two theoretical physicist geeks with a sexy neighbor.

But if they can throw in a fantastically funny housekeeper like Berthe on Lorre's 'Two And A Half Men', the show could have a shot.

I'm sure Chuck Lorre has already considered using a crossover with his other big show to help promote this series.

To make room for these shows, other series had to be shoved out the door. And so we're going to lose:

King of Queens, Jericho, The Class, Close To Home

'King of Queens' was already planned to make its exit and just had its big finale earlier this week. 'Close To Home' made a valiant effort to stay alive with their season ender last Friday - killing off one of the regulars, shifting the tone to be grittier - but it was for naught. And 'The Class' seemed resigned to the fact that it wasn't coming back for a sophomore year; its last episode could have served as a wrap-up and at the same time offered some options for new storylines.

But 'Jericho' could have gone in either direction; as they say in the business, it was on the bubble. So now we'll never know the truth behind the various explosions, nor the fates of all the other residents of Jericho, Kansas, - unless CBS okays a TV movie resolution and how often does that happen?

You know what would be nice? If someday a character in some other show, set in the main Toobworld, either drives through their version of Jericho, Kansas, or points it out on a map, or just mentions that they grew up back there. It'd be a nice tip of the hat to this show which did a pretty good job in creating its own little world.

Here is the fall lineup for CBS. All days and times subject to change, of course.

8pm: How I Met Your Mother
8:30: Big Bang Theory
9pm: Two And A Half Men
9:30: Rules Of Engagement
10pm: CSI: Miami

8pm: NCIS
9pm: The Unit
10pm: Cane

8pm: Kid Nation
9pm: Criminal Minds
10pm: CSI: NY

8pm: Survivor
9pm: CSI
10pm: Without A Trace

8pm: Ghost Whisperer
9pm: Moonlight
10pm: Numb3rs

8pm: Repeats
9pm: Repeats
10pm: Repeats

7pm: 60 Minutes
8pm: Viva Laughlin
9pm: Cold Case
10pm: Shark

Set for mid season: Swingtown, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Amazing Race

Toby OB

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