Next year will be crucial for CBS since it will be their first without The Big Bang Theory, which is ending this spring after 12 seasons of success. It’s the end of an era, but the franchise will still be a small part of their slate thanks to Young Sheldon enterings its 3rd season. It’s the only sitcom that really benefited from its lead-in after years of multiple attempts (who remembers The Great Indoors for example?). Other than that, the Eye Network can still count on Mom, which was recently renewed for two more seasons (7th & 8th), which may or may not be the last… and that’s it!
This year’s new entry The Neighborhood did a tad better than expected but calling it a hit would be very generous. Other new comedies didn’t get enough traction, that includes the Murphy Brown sequel series, as well as Nina Dobrev’s Fam & Damon Wayans Jr.’s Happy Together. Probably way too generic to find a large audience these days. And then there’s two pity renewals trying to survive: fully-owned Man With The Plan and now Disney-owned Life In Pieces. If the Matt Le Blanc-starrer still has a chance, the family single-cam seems to be dead. It leaves CBS with only one single-cam: Young Sheldon. The network definitely needs a new hit to fill The Big Bang Theory‘s void. They definitely take out their checkbook to lure some star. We’ll see if that translates into ratings since it’s rarely how it works…
- CAROL’S SECOND CHANCE (CBS Television Studios)
around Carol Chambers (Patricia Heaton), who after raising her two children and retiring from teaching, embarks on a unique second act: she’s going to become a doctor.
What you think you’ll get is exactly what you get with Carol’s Second Chance. It’s funny and comfy, and yet a little different since it’s set in a hospital and no comedy since Scrubs got that right. Patricia Heaton is playing the same kind of mom character you loved in Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle; she’s just older and ready to leave home to go back to work. Every scene is at the hospital, by the way. It’s a workplace comedy, but the medical cases are not at the center. It’s very much about how annoying and yet adorable she can be surrounded by younger people, at the exception of Kyle MacLachlan. Yeah! I still don’t know how CBS managed to convince him to join the sitcom but here he is. Of course, he will be great, even if it’s a waste of his talent. There’s no way it doesn’t get picked up. I can totally see it paired with Mom, or sandwiched between Young Sheldon & Mom. No other project has the strength that this one has.
2. OUR HOUSE (Sony Pictures Television & CBS Television Studios)
a devoted mom and dad (Katherine Heigl & Malcolm Barrett), who are committed to raising their children with the love and support the mom never got as a kid but discover how difficult that is with her insane parents (Nancy Lenehan & Phil Hendrie) and siblings back in the picture.
So now, Katherine “movie star” Heigl is doing comedy… multicamera comedy! I mean, there’s no shame in this but it’s quite surprising. After two drama flops and a short stint in dying Suits, perhaps it was the only way to go. I’m really curious to see if she would be a draw for the audience and if she can be good at it. I have a feeling she has found the right fit. And also that it could be paired with The Neighborhood and doing okay. Anyway, it’s a good sitcom, that doesn’t really feel new, or inventive, it’s the same story over and over again (ABC & NBC have similar projects), but there’s heart in there. The “house” of the title really is the central character and the heart of the show. And somehow that’s the refreshing element. The pairing of Heigl and Malcolm Barrett seems odd on paper but I’m confident they didn’t put them together for no reason. There must be chemistry. To my own surprise, Our House is one project I’m betting on!
3. THE UNICORN (CBS Television Studios)
A widower (Walton Goggins) is eager to move on from the most difficult year of his life, only to realize he’s utterly unprepared to raise his two daughters on his own and equally unprepared for the dating world — where, to his shock, he’s suddenly a hot commodity.
Didn’t expect to like this one as much either. By the way, it’s the only straight single-cam CBS has in its roster. That may help its chances somehow. Again, it’s pretty generic and NBC also has a show based on a widower’s experience (The Kenan Show) but I feel like this one is less manipulative and funny enough. The central character is quite interesting and charming but not in a obvious, easy way. Yes he’s a widower, and yes it’s hard but that’s not really the point and they’re not even trying to make us cry a little between two laughs. The writing is sharper than you would expect in a CBS sitcom. And yet it’s not tonally different from their other shows. Plus, they have Walton Goggins in the lead role. Not sure how they convinced him, but that’s a very good news for the project. He may transcend the material.
4. THE EMPEROR OF MALIBU (Warner Bros. Television)
When the son (Max Willems) of a Chinese billionaire (Ken Jeong) announces his engagement to an American woman, his outrageous family descends upon the couple to win their son back and test drive the American dream.
Let’s adress the elephant in the room first: yes, it’s a rip-off of mega hit Crazy Rich Asians. There’s the similar East-meets-West theme as in Kevin Kwan’s popular book and its movie adaptation. And Kwan is the writer as well, while Ken Jeong is back in the father role. They found a cheaper version of Henry Golding in Max Willems, and he seems just as good-looking. And maybe he’s funnier, which wouldn’t be that hard. I prefer ABC’s attempt (Untitled Jessica Gao Project) ‘cos at least they tried to re-arrange it so it doesn’t sound exactly the same, plus it’s female-focused, but The Emperor of Malibu works too. It’s predictable as fuck -even if you haven’t seen the movie, which was predictable as well, and quite boring if you ask me- and that’s a pity because other than that, the characters are engaging and they tone down the romantic aspect to focus on the family and more importantly on the funny.
4. BROKE IN RESEDA (CBS Television Studios)
Two siblings (Pauley Perrette & Nathasha Leggero) are forced to reconnect when an outrageously wealthy trust fund baby (Jaime Camil) is cut off by his father, and he and his wife move into her estranged sister’s Reseda condo.
It’s hard to picture CBS giving a greenlight to both Our House and Broke In Reseda, which are very similar offers. Here, the star is not Heigl but NCIS’ Pauley Perrette. It would be her first project since she left the long-running show, and that’s a draw in itself for a lot of CBS’ viewers. Would it be enough though? There’s also a tiny Jane The Virgin vibe, thanks to Jaime Camil playing exactly the same role as in The CW series and Jennie Snyder Urman producing it as well. But Jane is not exactly a huge hit, even by The CW standarts, so I don’t think CBS should bet on Broke In Reseda for that reason. There are other ones, like the fact that it’s funny sometimes and pretty much on-brand. It may be too generic but playing the “we’re broke” card might resonate with viewers these days so…
5. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (CBS Television Studios)
Evan (Michael Angarano) sets out with his group of 20-something friends to accomplish a list of challenges he wrote for himself years ago in an effort to turn around his banal life.
Like every year since How I Met Your Mother went off the air, CBS tries to find the perfect formula for another romantic hybrid comedy around a group of friends which would be different enough to warrant a series order. And it never happens because one way or another, they are the same, but less original. They could have tried last year with History Of Them from One Day at a Time creator Gloria Calderon Kellett which had that special thing going for it. But the pilot wasn’t picked up to series for some reason and they’re back at it with new propostions. To Whom It May Concern is okay, and the concept of the “list of challenges”, though not entirely new, is working. It’s the characters who are not totally working. They’re not special. They’re expected. How I Met Your Mother worked because they had Barney, and Robin, and Marshall, and even Ted. Where are they here? Nowhere, I’m afraid. Performances could change everything but I’m not convinced.
5. SUPER SIMPLE LOVE STORY (Sony Pictures Television & CBS Television Studios)
a story told through interviews and vignettes spanning 10 years, about how an unlikely couple (David Walton & Elizabeth Alderfer) becomes an unlikely family.
Well. Here’s another candidate in the never-ending How I Met Your Mother‘s replacement race, from One Day at A Time executive producer Mike Royce. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. I found it messy on the page, and what’s messy on the page is messy on the screen too, in general. As the title suggests, it’s a super simple love story. Is it ironic? I’m not sure. My take on it is that it is indeed a super simple love story but told in a way that makes it way more complicated than it really is. It’s irritating sometimes, frustrating also, and the only real thing that differentiates it from HIMYM in the end is that there are those interview scenes and it’s not something groundbreaking as you know. So, neh. Let’s keep it even more simple CBS: don’t order it!
6. BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA (Warner Bros. Television)
after having a heart attack (Billy Gardell), a man falls in love with his Nigerian nurse (Christine Ebersole) and sets his sights on getting her to give him a chance…
After an unconvicing trip to Netflix with pot comedy Disjointed -I’m pretty sure the network version of this with the same cast could have worked- and critical darling The Kominsky Method -that nobody I know watches- hit-maker Chuck Lorre is back at CBS with Bob <3 Abishola, which is somewhat original because of its title but that’s about it. It’s a romantic comedy that turns into a family comedy, like he did before with Dharma & Greg and Mike & Molly. He even called back Billy Gardell! It’s not bad – CBS doesn’t really have any bad comedy pilot this year- but its potential for a long run seems quite low and he have had way better ideas in the past. They needed to be four to write this? Damn! It should be funnier… Also, maybe that’s just me, but I found the way the hero tries to seduce his nurse very pre-#MeToo. He’s a little too insistant. He’s not creepy or anything and there’s nothing to be furious about in his behaviour but I don’t know, it made me a bit uncomfortable for a little while. Let’s just say CBS has better options. But I’m not stupid: they will want to make Lorre happy and order it anyway!