CBS on Wednesday drew back the curtain to reveal its 2013-14 primetime schedule during its traditional breakfast with reporters ahead of its official upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall.
Stability seemed to be the rationale behind CBS's primetime schedule, which returned pretty much intact with a few notable exceptions: Hawaii Five-0 will move to Fridays at 9 p.m., in order to take over the timeslot left vacant by the cancellation of CSI: New York, Person of Interest will now close out the night on Tuesdays, and Mike & Molly is being held until midseason.
Eliminating the lull of repeats, was one of the network's key strategies for the 2013-14, which will see four new comedies and two dramas (one for fall and one for midseason) join the schedule.
"Comedy was a priority for us," CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler told reporters. "We shot 23 pilots this year… and our studio really delivered a lot of great content… With comedy, you rely on chemistry and all the right elements coming together at the right time. The shows reflect a perfect alchemy."
As for drama, "there are some departures for us, in terms of genre and the new faces you’re going to see," Tassler said. "The goal this year was to have more originals, fewer repeats."
To that end, returning comedy Mike and Molly isn't on the schedule right now but will return in midseason with 22 episodes in order to ensure that there are more originals and less repeats throughout the season. "We have this show ready to air in midseason," said Tassler. "Melissa's popularity continues to grow. She'll be even more popular when we air this." Also turning up halfway through the season: James Van Der Beek-led comedy Friends with Better Lives and sultry Southern soap Reckless will also turn up later down the line.
Surprisingly, CBS opted not to pickup the latest planned spin-off of NCIS entitled NCIS: Red, though Tassler said it was in order to ensure the longevity of the current series themselves: "Sometimes [spin-offs] work, sometimes they don’t. NCIS and NCIS: LA are very valuable assets to our company… We may try to do it again, but protecting those assets is really important.”
On the prevalence this year of single-camera comedies on CBS, Tassler deflected any criticism that the network had mostly stuck to multi-cams in the past. "Every year in development, we develop single-camera comedies," she said. "Multi-cam comedy is very hard. It is a refined art. You have to be really funny… In terms of the number of single-cam to multi-cam, the ratio is pretty much the same. This just happened to be the batch that turned out the best that we shot and made it to the schedule."
CBS's primetime schedule can be found below (trailers tk).
CBS Primetime 2013-14 Schedule
8-8:30 p.m.: How I Met Your Mother
8:30-9 p.m.: We Are Men
9-9:30 p.m.: 2 Broke Girls
9:30-10 p.m.: Mom
10-11 p.m.: Hostages (fall)
10-11 p.m.: Intelligence (February)
Mom got some kudos from Tassler. "It's terrific to Anna Faris on television and it's Chuck [Lorre]," said Tassler. "This is a multi-cam, which Chuck does so well... A great supporting cast, full of colorful characters. We're thrilled to have Chuck at 9:30 on Monday nights."
Hostages is a real departure for CBS: "It's a mystery, suspense thriller, a nailbiter," said Tassler, who touted the fact that the show isn't a procedural, but is "highly serialized." 15 episodes will air in a row and then the timeslot will segue over to Josh Holloway-led drama Intelligence, in February. 13 episodes are on tap there.
8-9 p.m.: NCIS
9-10 p.m.: NCIS: LA
10-11 p.m.: Person of Interest
Sarah Shahi is back next season as a series regular and "a great addition to the cast," said Tassler. 'Everyone of our returning shows has surprises in store. [The Nolans] have so smartly woven Shahi into Person of Interest and this year is going to be even bigger" for the show.
8-9 p.m.: Survivor
9-10 p.m.: Criminal Minds
10-11 p.m.: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
8-8:30 p.m.: The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9 p.m.: The Millers
9-9:30 p.m.: The Crazy Ones
9:30-10 p.m.: Two and a Half Men
10-11 p.m.: Elementary
On The Millers, Tassler was high on Emmy winner Margo Martindale: "Margo Martindale is a phenomenal dramatic actress," said Tassler. "She does a comedy star turn in this that is pretty remarkable. She and Will Arnett have fantastic chemistry... Multi-generational comedy [like] Raymond works for us."
David E. Kelley's The Crazy Ones got some huge support from Tassler "It has a great emotional undertone to the piece," she said. "It is a filmed comedy directed by Jason Winer (Modern Family)... [Robin Williams] is the defining comic voice of our time." "Jimmy Wolk goes toe to toe comedically with Robin Williams in a way we haven't seen before." "We think this is going to be the most talked about show of the fall.
8-9 p.m.: Undercover Boss
9-10 p.m.: Hawaii Five-0
10-11 p.m.: Blue Bloods
"CSI: NY did such good work for us here, paired with Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-0 [will do the same]," said Kelly Kahl, "and we look at this as an almost seamless night."
8-9 p.m.: COMEDYTIME (encores)
9-10 p.m.: CRIMETIME (encores)
10-11 p.m.: 48 Hours
7-8 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8-9 p.m.: The Amazing Race
9-10 p.m.: The Good Wife
10-11 p.m.: The Mentalist
"This is a night we didn't want to change," said Kahl, who said that represented their "quality, prestige" night of programming, including The Good Wife, "one of the most upscale shows on television."
As expected, not a ton of change occurring at CBS, but when you're as highly successful as CBS is, there's not a lot of impetus to shake things up with the schedule. Still there are changes afoot: despite the upcoming release of Melissa McCarthy's next feature film, The Heat, the return of Mike & Molly is being held until midseason, though it has been given a 22-episode renewal, part of CBS's attempts to rid itself of repeats during the year. (More on that in a second.)
Faced with a hole on Fridays, CBS has moved Hawaii Five-0 to the timeslot formerly occupied by CSI: New York, which it axed earlier this month. While TNT, who just picked up syndication rights to the police procedural, can't be happy by this news, it makes sense for CBS, which has had success on Fridays with the combination of reality and cop dramas that is echoed again here.
I am intrigued by the move of Person of Interest from its perch on Thursdays at 9 p.m. to Tuesdays at 10 p.m., leading out of CBS's formidable NCIS duo. Something tells me that this will very much work in the favor of Person of Interest in the end.
As for the lack of repeats, CBS is continuing this upfront trend of promising to increase the original programming output during the season. They plan to do so by running new 15-episode Toni Collette drama Hostages in a row without a break in the fall (it's possible that the show could return and Hostages's writers have a plan in place should CBS pull the trigger on another season) and then turning the timeslot over to the Josh Holloway-led action drama Intelligence. Additionally, the network also has a few further midseason entries in the form of Southern soap Reckless and the James Van Der Beek-led comedy Friends With Better Lives, which will join Mike & Molly in the spring.
Furthermore, CBS appears to realize that they need to stabilize Monday given that this will be the final season of How I Met Your Mother and are using the comedy as a launchpad for several new sitcom offerings. They'll wisely continue to use 2 Broke Girls and Two and a Half Men to act as foundations for comedy blocks elsewhere on the schedule.
As always with CBS, if it's not broken, don't fix it seems to be their modus operandi.