Isn’t television odd? For as celebrated as CBS is for being “America’s Most Watched Network,” the thing can’t seem to buy a viewer when it comes to … news programming. Outside of “60 Minutes” (which is truly in a class by itself, anyway) CBS can’t seem to figure out how to be a major player in the infotainment world. NBC has “Today.” ABC has “Good Morning America.” And CBS has … Scott Pelley?
Still, all Gayle King jokes aside, The Big Eyeball has maintained its stranglehold on the top of Prime Time Ratings Mountain for the last 10 of 11 seasons. Reading through the network’s slate of shows is kind of like reading through a roster card from the 1927 New York Yankees. “How I Met Your Mother.” “2 Broke Girls.” “NCIS.” “The Big Bang Theory.” “Two And A Half Men.” “NCIS: Los Angeles.” “NCIS: Woodsboro.” It’s hit after hit after hit.
This, of course, is all in addition to a show I only recently began devouring, “The Good Wife.” Nearly finished with watching the show’s first season, I’m willing to put it in my top five of all-time, merely based on how many actors from “The Wire” it features on a week to week basis. Shoot, knowing that it’s the only show on my list that’s still producing new episodes, I have half a mind to call up a cable company tonight to make sure I can check in with Alicia Florrick’s life in real time once fall rolls around.
But I digress. Behold three bullet points for this year’s CBS upfronts gathering. Being at the top doesn’t mean you don’t have room for expansion, of course (case in point: “Elementary,” a show brought in last year, is television’s most-watched new series). So yes, despite past successes, there still may be at least a few tidbits below in which you could be interested. Thus, behold entry No. 2 for this year’s upfronts coverage.
Indeed. All you need is love.
Maybe the biggest news to creep out of CBS’s time in the upfronts box came from someone who isn’t even employed by Les Moonves and his band of merry messiahs. Jimmy Kimmel, ABC’s resident funny-guy talk-show host, took a shot at The Big Eye during his network’s presentation, calling the people who work there “smug @$!*&”. To that, Moonves quipped, “We’re very flattered Jimmy Kimmel called us ‘smug mother (expletives) — that means we’re winning.” And no, he wasn’t done. As Lacey Rose and Marisa Guthrie pointed out Wednesday over at The Hollywood Reporter, the executive also took a shot at the commonly known, behind-closed-doors drama that has been going down at other networks (cough, NBC, cough). “We think great drama belongs in prime time, not at 7 o’clock in the morning,” the Moon-meister told the crowd while referencing what went on at the “Today” show last year. Oh, you silly television people, you. Ironically, drama is something CBS knows fairly well (again, cough, “The Good Wife,” cough), and this autumn could end up being another reminder of as much. “Intelligence” and “Hostages” are the two big name additions. The former, starring Josh Holloway as a guy who can access free Internet data in his brain, is something I can say with 100 percent certainty that I will never, ever watch. The latter, meanwhile, props Toni Collette up as a surgeon who is supposed to operate on the President of the United States of America. The catch? She gets kidnapped by a bag guy FBI agent who tells her she has to kill the leader of the free world. Sound familiar, NBC? Anyway, much like CBS always seems to do, smart money says that one of those two shows will somehow become a hit. Me? I’ll stick with “The Good Wife.”
2. O captain, my captain!
Robin Williams, he with the best uncredited performance in movie history, is stepping away from his dead poets by shacking up with “The Crazy Ones,” maybe the most highly anticipated new show on the network’s slate. Coupled with Sarah Michelle Gellar, the comedy will feature The Hairy Wonder as … wait for it … an advertising executive. From here, we will now turn it over to the illustrious Ms. Lisa de Moraes for a moment of (presumed) non-snark. “‘The Crazy Ones’ is from David E. Kelley and is a stroke of genius, if the pilot trailer is any indication,” she wrote this week. “The pilot episode is all about coming up with an ad campaign for McDonalds, and getting Kelly Clarkson to sing the McDonalds jingle. And she does. In success, this show could make the product placement on ‘Mad Men’ look like the minor leagues.” Also, as the Washington Post scribe pointed out, “The Crazy Ones” is going to actually be one of two single-camera comedies that CBS will offer come September. The other program in question, “We Are Men,” a show the network has passed on before, features a bunch of divorced and heartbroken dudes and one of those dudes just happens to be Tony Shalhoub. All of this is news why? Well, because, as it goes, CBS doesn’t really offer single-camera comedies. Late to the cocktail hour or early to the party? We’ll find out sooner than later. “The Millers,” meanwhile, sounds interesting in its own right if only for the quadruple thunderstorm of eclecticism that features Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and creator Greg Garcia. Hey — graduate from “Arrested Development” and I’ll stick with you forever. Yes. Even you, Tony Hale. And finally, there’s “Mom,” a Chuck Lorre special that stars Anna Faris. I would insert a fit of generic sarcasm here, but who’s kidding who — Lorre has the golden touch. Why should we care if you can’t find five people who admit they actually enjoy any of his shows? They get numbers. And as CBS has proved more so than any other network in the past decade, The Big Eye knows a thing or two about numbers.
3. Goodbye, cruel world
So … what’s gone? After what seemed like 25 years spent flirting with it, “Rules of Engagement” has finally been put in the ground. Joining it will be “Partners” (guess that same-sex-couples-shows fad didn’t turn out well, did it? Sad), “Golden Boy” (I don’t even remember what that was), “Made In Jersey” (Yep), “CSI: New York” (To make room for “CSI: Chevy Chase”), and, somewhat surprisingly, “Vegas,” the Dennis Quaid/Michael Chiklis period drama for which the network seemed to consistently root. When reached for comment, Dennis Quaid reiterated his insistence that we go see what looks to be the worst movie of the year, “At Any Price,” in theaters on Friday. Well, that and something about “Jaws 3-D.”