TV Guide's Roush on CBS Fall

TV Arts


Roush Dispatch
by Matt Roush 

Upfront Update: CBS 

Everyone knows that CBS is a master at scheduling (just scan its
consistently top-rated lineup). But who knew they could logistically
arrange for the stars of one of Broadway’s biggest hits, the
multi-Tony-nominated “Jersey Boys,” to be ferried from the August
Wilson Theatre to Carnegie Hall and back, during intermission of their
Wednesday matinee performance, to sing Frankie Valli & the Four
Seasons hits at this year’s upfront presentation. That and a surprise
performance by Mariah Carey (who has a prime-time special next season)
proved that, prime-time success aside, CBS still knows a thing or two
about old-fashioned showmanship. Carnegie Hall is the right venue for
these guys.

With only four new fall series to tout, CBS projected an aura of
confidence and stability. Which isn’t the same as complacency.

This explains why CBS is moving Thursday hit Without a Trace to
Sundays, replacing the Sunday movie with a two-hour crime block of
Cold Case at 9, followed by Trace at 10. It’s time for the network to
try to create a new hit with the powerhouse CSI lead-in. It won’t take
long to learn if James Woods as Shark is the ticket.

Here’s a night-by-night analysis of CBS’s solid-as-a-rock lineup: (for
more on the fall lineups, go to

Monday: The comedy block returns with only one addition. Providing a
compatible bridge between How I Met Your Mother (at 8 pm/ET) and Two
and a Half Men (at 9) is the new The Class from Friends’ creator David
Crane. Clips scored quite a few laughs during the presentation as we
were introduced to a disparate group of 20somethings who were all in
the same 3rd-grade class but who had understandably grown apart. When
all are brought together by series star Jason Ritter (a chip off his
late father’s charming block), new relationships are formed. The cast
includes a couple of Broadway ringers, including (as a guy with
suicide on his mind) Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who stops the show each
night in Broadway’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
musical. If this show makes him a star, that will be enough for me.
The night continues with The New Adventures of Old Christine and CSI:
Miami. Looks like a winner to me. (The King of Queens will return,
though not necessarily on Monday, at midseason.)

Tuesday: Why tinker with success? The smash hit NCIS will lead into
midseason hit The Unit, and the troublesome 10 pm/ET time period will
now be occupied by Smith (what an awfully generic title), the latest
in a recent line of dramas positioning thieves as series stars. This
one looks less pretentious than FX’s defunct Thief, and much less
smugly hateful than NBC’s quickly canceled Heist. With a gorgeous cast
that includes Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Simon Baker and Jonny Lee
Miller, this may not be able to unseat NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, but it
could be a good fit with The Unit, in that it also deals with people
leading secret lives (although here not nearly so patriotic).

Wednesday: CBS’s most intriguing new series kicks off the night, an
apocalyptic thriller titled Jericho, about residents of a small,
remote Kansas town cut off from society in the wake of a nuclear
explosion. With no communication from the outside world, they fend for
themselves, in essence becoming an island (shades of Lost?), a society
in microcosm. Skeet Ulrich heads the large cast. Will this work where
all of last season’s sci-fi genre shows failed? Possibly, because like
Lost, Jericho grounds its fantasy in a real-seeming world. At least
it’s not just another crime show. Which is, of course, exactly what
Jericho leads into: the combo of Criminal Minds and CSI: NY.

Thursday: CBS’s most successful night shakes things up for the first
time in seasons. Not in the first two hours, where Survivor and CSI
will likely continue to dominate (even with ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy in
the picture). At 10 pm/ET, Without a Trace is replaced by Shark, a
legal drama starring the estimable James Woods in his first regular
series lead. He plays a crafty, full-of-himself lawyer who decides to
play for the prosecutor’s side, using many of the same unscrupulous
courtroom tricks that once freed so many of his clients. Jeri Ryan
plays his disapproving district attorney boss. Could be fun, or could
be the first chink in CBS’s armor on this all-important night.

Friday: No changes.

Saturday: Who cares.

Sunday: 60 Minutes is back, with Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper
among the new contributors, followed by a transplanted The Amazing
Race. I like this scheduling, although it might suffer by going
head-to-head with ABC reality phenom Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Both are well-liked by and aimed at family audiences. But it seems
like a good Sunday show to me. This is followed by the crime combo of
Cold Case and Without a Trace, which could do some damage to ABC,
especially with Grey’s Anatomy no longer a factor. All in all, a solid
lineup by a network that doesn’t need to take many risks, so doesn’t.
I'm not really into comedies, but I've read a bit more about The Class 
than what is here and the show sounds interesting.  And Jason Ritter is 
such a charming, engaging actor, much like his father was.  I'll be 
checking this one out.  Maybe I'll finally give Old Christine a peek as 
well.  With Everwood gone (sigh), it's much easier now.

I like NCIS, but The Unit doesn't do much for me.  Smith as a much 
better cast than Heist, but the premise is still the same.  Really no 
reason to switch from either Boston Legal or SVU.

Moving on....  Nothing to see (for me, anyway) here.  I like Skeet 
Ulrich though.  I was a big fan of his short lived show, Miracles.

I'm interested in Shark.  Yes, it's another legal/crime show and I watch 
enough of those already.  However, I like James Woods and the rest of 
the cast is strong.  Good to see Jeri Ryan again.  Sounds like a good 
show to replace WAT.

Why change what is a strong night?  No one else has anything close to 
this lineup on this night.   The only chink might be Numbers facing 
Criminal Intent at 10.

Bold move by CBS.  I don't like losing the movie, but CC and WAT is a 
strong combo and I'm a fan of both shows.  This is a tough night for me, 
with DH (and I'll check out Brothers and Sisters) on ABC and football on 
NBC.  The recorders will be busy.

Just wondering, do either one of you have a life? Ever come out for
fresh air, if your lucky to find it.
Just long enough attend school and learn grammar.
And how to properly quote on usenet.