I have nothing but respect for CBS and the way they program the network. One of my prize possessions is a signed love note from Les Moonves, which is framed and prominently sitting on the bookshelf in our family room. The current president of entertainment, Kelly Kahl, comes from research and scheduling rather than achieving the position through the “creative” route; and we all know schedulers are the smartest people in the room. They really are. This is another plug-and-play schedule from the masters of the big-tent approach to programming.
CBS will talk stability, but the reality is they have more new series for fall (six) than the other networks. But it doesn’t feel that way. “Murphy Brown” and “Magnum P.I.” are reboots, and “FBI” feels like yet another generic CBS crime show, with the added advantage of the Dick Wolf pedigree. They have an all-new Monday, having dismantled the four-comedy block. They start it off with two more diverse (for them) comedies. CBS is also doing something a bit different for them on Sunday at 8 with “God Friended Me,” but it’s going into a time period where “Touched by an Angel” lived for several seasons, so again, nothing feels all that new.
CBS also has insurance against failure with several established comedies and dramas sitting on the bench, waiting to be plugged into holes on the schedule, and they won’t miss a beat. To their credit, they don’t tolerate failure the way the other networks often do. When something sucks, it is rarely given time to find itself because the great minds at CBS know the odds are it won’t. By the time you get to the May announcement, the likes of “9JKL,” “Me, Myself and I” and “Living Biblically” are all well down the memory hole.
Which leads me to the one dark cloud on the horizon for the network. They need to develop some comedies and get back to eight (IMHO), and they need to find themselves another “The Good Wife,” that premium drama that makes up for all the crime shows.
I haven’t yet seen the trailer for “God Friended Me,” but it feels like a space that often fails on network TV. ABC just did something like this in “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” and CBS had another comedy that fell down the memory hole (“Angel from Hell”) that went down this path. Jane Lynch was in it. And what about “Living Biblically”? Keep trying.
Regardless, CBS will do just fine, and we will again be assaulted by their “We’re No. 1” promos throughout the Sunday NFL season. They don’t need my advice. I’ll just lovingly look at my letter from Les and watch the fun and games that are about to begin. You know who my money is on.