The 2015-16 season found CBS, normally the model of scheduling and programming consistency, experimenting with its identity, as single camera comedies (Life in Pieces, Angel From Hell), comic dramas (Supergirl), and unorthodox procedurals (Limitless) sat aside the likes of NCIS and The Big Bang Theory. The attempt at broadening out the definition of what a CBS show is mostly flatlined, as the network wound up cancelling three of the four newbies and giving a time slot downgrade to the one they renewed, but given that CBS has a well-established identity among TV audiences, recovery wasn’t as difficult as one might think. The CBS faithful turning their nose up at the network’s attempt to service a younger audience pushed the network’s development in a more conservative direction in 2016-17, with a series of multi-cams headed by TV stars (Matt LeBlanc, Joel McHale, Kevin James) and durable procedurals either starring CBS veterans (Michael Weatherly) or bearing the name of hits gone by (MacGyver). But has this change in direction helped the CBS schedule as a whole?
That’s where we come in. KSiteTV Editor-in-Chief Craig Byrne and site contributor Shilo Adams have taken it upon themselves to assess how each broadcast network’s fall 2016 schedule has panned out. In addition to naming everything from the best scheduling move to the bubble show most in need of divine intervention, they’ve predicted which midseason shows could be a hit with audiences before laying out what each network needs going forward and giving a grade for achievements thus far. Keep in mind, the opinions expressed in these articles aren’t definitive, as how the midseason shows perform and the stability of the fall shows can make scheduling moves that seem bad look a little better or knock out the chances of a bubble show escaping this season with renewal in hand. This is just a snapshot of where CBS is right now and a look ahead at what could happen once midseason gets under way.
Before you delve into these thoughts on CBS, here’s a link to the initial CBS 2016-17 fall scheduling analysis article, as well as links to the two previous midseason report cards.
BEST SCHEDULING MOVE
Shilo: I’ll stump for MacGyver, which I was admittedly skeptical about when it was picked up. Aside from my weariness with the reboot/revival trend that’s going strong, I didn’t think CBS could/should essentially scrap the entire pilot, rebuild the show, and get ahead enough in production to make a September premiere. But MacGyver is doing pretty well for itself on Fridays and, most importantly, it’s provided a healthy amount of support for Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, with the former up (!) year-to-year and the latter flat. While MacGyver might not be a breakout when it comes to Live + Same Day numbers, it’s more than done its job by revitalizing what could be a quiet night and seems like a project CBS can nurture to a lucrative syndication deal.
Craig: Restoring at least an hour of comedy to Monday nights seems to be a good choice, even though I’m not sure Scorpion works as well as a 10:00 show.
WORST SCHEDULING MOVE
Shilo: Yeah, moving Scorpion to 10:00 isn’t great. I can at least understand the reasoning behind some of CBS’s more curious moves (e.g. how they structured Sunday, bringing Code Black back in the fall, having Kevin Can Wait air at 8:00 vs. 9:00, etc.), but this is the move I still don’t really get. Only in its third season this year, the show held up fairly well last year and is owned by the network, so booting it to 10:00 and giving it an incongruous lead-in doesn’t seem like the right move to make. It’s not the type of durable, older-skewing procedural that CBS has perfected over the years, which means that it’s more susceptible to a poor situation and the interference of the network. I still think that it comfortably gets to syndication; it’s just that this show could’ve been so much more for CBS and they’re at least partially responsible for it becoming more utility player than network cornerstone.
Craig: Pure Genius didn’t come off like a CBS show, and its ratings are not like that of a CBS show. If anything, it solidifies that more than a few of the network’s 10:00 slots are a weak, which can’t make the advertisers happy. Hopefully this coming development season will yield more success in the hour.