The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.
I’m getting tired of saying the same things about CBS every year and I could do a simple copy-paste: the Eye network is losing more and more viewers every season, especially the younger ones, and do nothing about it. They repeat the same mistakes over and over again and it shows now. Once the best network at the scheduling game, they became the worst. NCIS on the drama side, The Big Bang Theory on the comedy side and Survivor on the unscripted side can’t hide all the flops or semi-flops all around.
Their comedy line-up on monday is horrendous, both creatively and ratings-wise. It looks so old-fashioned. Kevin Can Wait holds the fort the best he can but it’s not enough: Man With a Plan and Superior Donuts are already dead in their second seasons while new entries Me, Myself and I & 9JKL are already cancelled in everyone’s mind. Sunday is not the prestige night it once was when The Good Wife was still around: NCIS Los Angeles is doing okay business, but Madam Secretary is dying while Wisdom of the crowd, the worst series of the year, is leaving soon. It’s becoming a syndication farm like friday. Isn’t CBS a giant syndication farm anyway?
It wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were able to create strong new shows, here to stay on the air for a long time. But Bull, Navy SEAL, MacGyver or SWAT are young shows that are already very weak and they’ll soon become a burden, unless CBS accepts the fact that’s the best they can do right now and drag them for years to come with abysmal numbers. Older shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS New Orleans, Blue Bloods or Hawaii 5-0 still have some life in them but at some point not so far away, they will have to go. Thursday is looking better this year thanks to Young Sheldon, which is a really big success, and it helps Mom and Life In Pieces stay at decent levels.
My best advice to them is still the same as least year and the year before: they need to rejuvenate their dramas and comedies by bringing more diversity. In their casts with more people of colour, more women at the center, more gay/bi/transgender characters with stories of their own. Avoid the same old white man temptation they’re always falling for. That’s the best way to be relevant again and attract the millenials before old people die and no one watch the network anymore. In other words: they need to stop playing it safe and embrace modernity once and for all like the others do. Their development slate looks once again very weak but let’s see what they have:
CHIEFS (Sony Pictures Televsion / CBS Television Studios)
What? about the professional and personal lives of three driven, successful, but very different women who are each Chiefs of Police of their own precincts in L.A. County; they band together to create a task force to catch a dangerous serial killer…
Why? Is it a dream or is this project exactly what CBS avoids to do usually? There is not one, not two but three women at the center AND a pitch that suggets that it would not -only- be a procedural but a serialized cop show! Sorry for the ironic tone but all of those things make it hard to believe they’d give it a chance. Let’s cross our fingers and pray! It has a pilot production commitment so it makes it a real serious candidate for a pick-up…
FAMILY BUSINESS (CBS Television Studios)
What? a multi-generational CIA spy family show told through the eyes of its youngest generation: three adult siblings – who all struggle with rivalry, secrets, and making their mark in the Intelligence Community…
Why? What’s the best way for CBS to bank on the family trend without losing its identity? This! This kind of pitch comes back every year and I remember vivdly the Boomerang one at FOX a few years ago, starring Felicity Huffman, it was unique and great. It was rejected for reasons unknown. If they can do something in the same vein, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a bit of comedy, that’d be great! You know, something more modern and entertaining than Blue Bloods… Barbara Hall (Madam Secretary, Judging Amy) is the creator.
MURDER (Warner Bros. Television)
What? takes the audience inside the emotional journey of an investigation, allowing them to discern the truth and judge the suspects’ guilt or innocence for themselves; each episode serves as a standalone story and describes the events leading to and immediately after a murder has taken place…
Why? This drama is based on a BBC true crime anthology series that I never heard of before. It would be a good complement to the other CBS cop or action shows, that have a tendency to care very little for the victims’ and suspects’ journey and are all about the investigation and the detectives. Here, the focus is different. It could become boring after a few episodes though and since they don’t produce it in-house it will be treated like shit. Maybe it would be best taken care of somewhere else…
TRIDENT (CBS Television Studios)
What? centers on a mysterious death aboard an American nuclear submarine that tests the mettle of the crew, the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA and causes a crisis that threatens to expose a conspiracy that could trigger World War III
Why? Probably the only ambitious project CBS has in store this year. It sounds more like one of their summer treats (Zoo, Salvation) and maybe that’s where it will end up -and it would be the sign that it’s not very good- but for the time being, let’s be optimistic. It’s a thrilling idea from people who worked on Fringe, Star Trek Discovery and well… Scorpion and Limitless too.
UNTITLED CARRIE GOLDBERG PROJECT (Sony Pictures Television / CBS Television Studios)
What? based on the life of attorney Carrie Goldberg, a young lawyer in Brooklyn who, after enduring vicious online and offline attacks herself, opens her own firm to place herself and her team on the front lines of defending victims of crimes in the age of the Internet where the law hasn’t yet caught up with technology
Why? The word “technology” in a pitch makes me afraid these days. Pure Genius, APB & Wisdom of the Crowd (two of them were on CBS…) all flopped with similar ideas. The difference here is that it’s not about using new technology to solve crimes but defending people who were victims of technology, and it sounds way more interesting. But won’t the case look all the same at some point? That’s my main concern. It will need to rely on the charm of the main character and her collaborators, and not just cases, a little soap too, which is not CBS’s strongest suit.
UNTITLED GALL & GERO PROJECT (Warner Bros. Television)
What? revolves around five multi-racial adopted siblings who fight for justice in the courtroom amid wildly different legal careers as they delve into the mystery of a family tragedy that exposes the sins of their father
Why? In what world would 5 brothers & sisters, even adopted, all make a career in the law? I mean… at least one would be the black sheep and do something else entirely, right? It starts as something totally unbelievable BUT the fact that they are not all lawyers could fuel interesting interactions and battles. Plus, it’s produced by Greg Berlanti and he knows how to make a good family drama (Brothers & Sisters, Everwood) so I want to believe in it no matter what.
WHISTLEBLOWER (CBS Television Studios)
What? about a former whistleblower who lost everything – career, family, reputation – when he stood up against a conglomerate to expose wrongdoing; he now runs a firm dedicated to exposing wrongdoers while protecting those who have the courage to stand up for what’s right
Why? Last year, CBS passed on a similar pilot, Perfect Citizen starring Noah Wyle, and it was a good one. They prefered Widsom of the crowd and Navy SEAL to it, well… This time, it’s not written by someone from The Good Wife, but it’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It’s worrying when you look at what he worked on recently, but the idea is still interesting and I hope they manage to make something good out of it.
After ABC last year, CBS is now developing a Magnum, PI reboot from their expert Peter Lenkov, who’s already responsible for Hawaii 5-0‘s and MacGyver‘s, but of course this one won’t be female centric; a small screen take on James Ellroy’s noir L.A. Confidential that is not a good fit at all with prude CBS, plus it’s a period drama set in the 1950s; and F.B.I, already ordered to series, about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, produced by… Dick Wolf, for the first time in years not on NBC.
CLASS ACTION (CBS Television Studios)
What? about a law student looking for the easy way out who gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself in a class where he and an eclectic group of fellow law students are required to argue actual cases in court
Why? It sounds a bit like a comedic version of How To Get Away With Murder, without the actual murders. And I kinda like it. A workplace comedy with aspiring lawyers sounds like something that could attract millenials, if there is no battle between the old generation and the new one (like there was in the terrible The Great Indoors).
DADS & DAUGHTERS ((CBS Television Studios)
What? about a reserved math teacher with Midwestern values and an outgoing personal trainer who must bite the bullet and move in together rather than splitting their daughters up when their common ex-wife heads to prison for credit card fraud
Why? Is it me or does it sound a lot like Two and half-men? The premise is totally different but it should end up exactly the same: two straight men raising kids together while the mother is away. Oh and Jon Cryer is attached to star! What a coincidence… Why did I pick it up then? Because it looks like a multicam that could work for them and they badly need one.
HISTORY OF THEM (Sony Pictures Television / CBS Television Studios)
What? a multi-cultural romantic comedy about how two friends fell in love, narrated by their future daughter, using the couple’s social media from present-day as a guide
Why? This project is CBS trying to modernize How I Met Your Mother (could have been named How My Parents Met) and we can’t blame them. Apart from The Big Bang Theory, it’s their last big success in the genre. I’m very optimistic about the outcome since it’s written by Netflix’s One Day at a Time creator Gloria Calderon Kellet and produced and directed by Pam Fryman, who did every HIMYM episodes.
I MOM SO HARD (Warner Bros. Television)
What? follows two moms who show how their friendship gets them through being wives and mothers
Why? This one is written by three women! Yeah, you read it right. It’s a rarity. One of them is Michelle Nader, who was an executive producer on gone-too-soon 2 Broke Girls. It’s based on the popular web series of the same name with creators/stars Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley reprising their roles. CBS desperately needs something like this on their lineup: fresh feminine faces.
LADDER 54 (CBS Television Studios)
What? about a big-city firehouse: stuck there for long shifts, a crew of firefighters eat, sleep, live, laugh and fight with each other, their relationships made more intense by the fact that at any moment, they’ll be risking their lives for one another
Why? Between Chicago Fire, 911 and the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, there may be enough firefighters on TV but none of them are a straight comedies so maybe there’s a place for it anyway. The popular Cedric the Entertainer -who looks nothing like a firefighter- is attached to star.
PERFECT 10 (Warner Bros. Television)
What? about a group of former high school classmates who become indispensable parts of each other’s lives after reconnecting at their 10-year reunion
Why? Some of you may remember CBS sitcom The Class from 10 years ago. The network cancelled it after one season because of poor performances but it was really good and even getting better and better. I hope this Perfect 10 with the same idea will be some kind of revenge!
QUALITY OF LIFE (CBS Television Studios)
What? set at a family-run funeral home, tackling life through the unique perspective that growing up in a funeral home gives you
Why? Jamie Lee Curtis is attached to star in this comedic Six Feet Under that sounds like something different, both funny and touching, that could do well around Young Sheldon & Mom. Those three could save monday paired all together!
WELCOME TO MAINE (CBS Television Studios)
What? about a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant – believed to be a Syrian refugee – and his daughter who all must learn to embrace change when they share the same workplace in a tiny rural town
Why? Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl, Raising Hope, Yes Dear) is behind this project, which is a good reason to give it a chance. It would help bring some diversity to the network on a timely subject in the Trump Era, with a more liberated voice.
What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!