May 18, 2011

2011 upfronts: cbs

Programming Notes:
Click here to the full list of CBS's renewals and cancellations. At the presentation, CBS was going for the strong, steady image. Which is appropriate. They made few changes to their schedule -- which earns the highest overall ratings among the broadcast networks, drawing big numbers from all age groups, which is definitely a rarity these days. So, they're only adding three new dramas and two comedies this year. Here are a few other notes:
  • The Good Wife is making a big move to Sunday nights at 9:00. I'll follow that show anywhere, but I'm doing a little cheer for Parenthood, which could find a better audience on NBC without that competition.
  • Two and Half Men with Ashton Kutcher will stay on Mondays at 9:00. No word yet on Kutcher's character. I've never watched that show and don't plan to start, but I am intrigued to watch how that shakeup will play out. It's been a long time since such a high profile character was swapped out on a sitcom. Maybe since Shelley Long on Cheers?
  • Apparently, it's a big deal that CSI was moved from its long time slot on Thursday to Wednesday at 10:00. 
  • The Big Bang Theory will keep the 8:00 Thursday slot kicking off an hour comedy block with new show How to Be a Gentleman
TV Line posted a collection of trailers for the news shows. Check them out here and/or read my little descriptions and gut reactions after the jump

New Dramas:

Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) stars as Carrie Wells, an former police detective with a rare condition that makes her remember every place, every conversation, every moment of joy and every heartbreak forever (this was on an episode of House this season. Copy cats). The only thing she can't remember are the details that would help solve her sister's long-ago murder. She's unexpectedly reunited with her ex-boyfriend and partner, NYPD Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck), when she consults on a homicide case. His squad includes Detective Roe Saunders played by Kevin Rankin, who I loved in Friday Night Lights (Herc) and Trauma. She decides to permanently join the unit as a homicide detective - focusing most on the unsolved murder of her sister.

My take: Not really for me, but I think this will do a great job filling the void for Medium mourners. A good fit for the CBS menu.

Person of Interest
Michael Emerson plays a billionaire software genius Finch who teams up with a presumed dead former CIA agent Reese (Jim Caviezel) to prevent crimes using their own form of vigilante justice. Finch invented a program that uses pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes. Using this technology, the two use Reese's adept skills and Finch's unlimited wealth to stop the crimes before they happens. Reese's actions catch the attention of the NYPD, namely homicide detective Carter (Taraji Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). With infinite crimes to investigate, Reese and Finch find that the right person, with the right information, at the right time, can change everything. This is another J.J. Abrams production.

My take: Michael Emerson all I need to hear to at least watch the pilot. But I would like it better if Ben Linus was joined by John Locke to fight these crimes (Lost reference if you live in a hole).

A Gifted Man
Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen) is a doctor who lives a materialistic life thanks to his work-obsessed career and powerful and wealthy patients. But his world is rocked when his dead ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), an idealistic free-clinic doctor and the love of his life, mysteriously appears to him. Michael's off-beat sister, Christina (Julie Benz, Dexter) is thrilled that Anna's back in her brother's life, even as an "illusion," because Michael was always a better person with her. When Anna asks Michael to keep her running, his attitude toward serving the rich and poor is turned upside down.

My take: Another great show for the CBS brand. Not my thing, but I think it will do really well with the Touched by an Angel/Medium/Ghost Whisperer sect.

The 2-2 (midseason)
Follows six diverse NYPD rookies as they patrol upper Manhattan. There's Jennifer "White House" Perry (Leelee Sobieski), a former college volleyball star and Marine MP in Iraq; Ray "Lazarus" Harper (Adam Goldberg), the oldest rookie and a former police news reporter; Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte), from a family with a criminal history with a personal connection inside the force; Ahmad "Kiterunner" Kahn (Tom Reed), an Afghani native who fought his way to freedom; Kenny McClaren (Stark Sands), a fourth-generation police officer with qualms about joining the force; and Jayson Toney (Harold House Moore), a young basketball legend who squandered his opportunity in the NBA. It's all about them adjusting to the force and putting up with their Field Training Officer, Daniel "Yoda" Dean (Terry Kinney, Oz). This one's produced by Robert De Niro. 

My take: I feel like this has been done, no?

New Comedies:

2 Broke Girls
Max (Kat Dennings) works two jobs to get by, one of which is waiting tables during the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Caroline (Beth Behrs) is an uptown trust fund princess who's run of bad luck has her waiting tables there too. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers she must cover for, but she's surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style. When Caroline discovers Max's knack for baking amazing cupcakes, she sees a lucrative future for them, but they first need to raise the start-up money via tips at the diner. Hilarity ensues.

My take: I love Kat Denning, and the writing in the trailer is pretty funny. I'm always weary of multi-camera CBS sitcoms, and this premise my get stale, but Big Bang Theory won my heart, so I may give this one a try.

How to be a Gentleman
Andrew Carlson (David Hornsby, Always Sunny) is an etiquette columnist whose devotion to ideals from a more civilized time has lead to a life detached from modern society. Infectiously optimistic, Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon, Entourage) is a reformed "bad boy" from Andrew's past who inherited a fitness center, but can still be rude, loud and sloppy. When Andrew's editor, Jerry (Dave Foley, News Radio), tells him to put a modern, sexy twist on his column or be fired, he hires Bert as a life coach in the hopes of learning to be less "gentle man" and more "real man." Bromance. Other funny cast members: Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) playing Andrew's sister and her husband.

My take: I'm a big fan of pretty much all of the cast members, but I watched the trailer and found myself really wanting this to be a single-camera format with no laugh track. I guess CBS isn't ready for that.


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