Football is shaking up the CBS schedule at the start of the 2014–2015 season. The Thursday night NFL acquisition will see The Big Bang Theory temporarily moving to Mondays at 8 p.m., in addition to some other changes.
“It’s going to greatly enhance our lineup, but it’s not going to define us,” said Kelly Kahl, the senior executive vice president of CBS primetime, of Thursday Night Football during a press presentation where the schedule was revealed.
Thursdays will kick off with the NFL on Sept. 11 and then, on Oct. 30, it will be business as usual with The Big Bang Theory moving back to Thursdays at 8 p.m., followed by sophomore comedy The Millers, thenTwo and a Half Men (which shifts back to the 9 p.m. slot for its 12th and final season), new series The McCarthys, and hit drama Elementary, which dominates the Thursday 10 p.m. time slot.
Nina Tassler, the president of CBS entertainment, said after going into last season with the announcement that How I Met Your Mother was coming to an end, CBS decided to do the same with Two and a Half Men. “We know that fans respond to that,” she noted. As for whether or not she’d like to see Charlie Sheen’s character rise from the dead for the final season, Tassler said slyly, “I would like to see whatever [creator] Chuck [Lorre] would like to do.”
CBS’s comedy game is seeing some shifts at large. The 2014–2015 season marks the end of the network’s longstanding two-hour Monday night comedy block with Big Bang (which will transition to 2 Broke Girls post-football) and Mom only taking up an hour of the evening. Then, new drama Scorpion takes over at 9 p.m. “What we love about having it at 9, it embraces a lot of the wit and humor that we have in our signature comedies,” Tassler noted of the newcomer, starring Katherine McPhee. “It also has a lot of heart and action that our hit procedurals have as well. So we saw it as a great bridge.”
Kahl noted, “This year we have a really strong drama year. Last year, we had a really strong comedy year.” CBS canceled four of its comedies from the 2013–2014 season, renewing Mom and The Millers. “Certainly comedy is tough,” Tassler added. “It’s not a science. There’s no formula. It’s about chemistry … And we believe we do it better than anybody… Anybody anywhere would give their arms and legs to have [The Big Bang Theory] on their schedule.”
Some other notable details:
— CBS is all year round now, y’all! “You have to think about big auspices all year round,” Tassler said. “We are officially retiring the phrase ‘midseason’… We have fall, winter, spring, and summer.”
— The Amazing Race, which will enter its 25th season later this year, moves to Fridays at 8 p.m. Its previous Sunday timeslot will see some changes as well. CSI, which moves from Wednesdays, will air on Sundays at 10 p.m. “We need a show that people love, a show that’s still strong, a show that people will wait up for till 10:30 some weeks,” Kahl said, since the Sunday night lineup has been known to be delayed on CBS thanks to football.
— The new Tea Leoni drama Madam Secretary will air at 8 p.m. on Sunday, followed by mainstay The Good Wife (“You thought this season was big. Next season will be even bigger,” Tassler said), before CSI rounds out the night. CBS seems particularly proud of Madam Secretary, with Tassler noting that star Tea Leoni “has been offered virtually every series over the course of the past 10 years.” She closed a deal on this show in two days.
— When CSI ends its run (Tassler was certain not to divulge episode orders, noting “you want to stay flexible, which we are; you want to stay nimble, which we are”), the latest spin-off CSI: Cyber, will take over that 10 p.m. Sunday slot. But that doesn’t mean the end of CSI. Tassler doesn’t think the original is near its end just yet. “We think the schedule could support both [CSI and CSI: Cyber] in the future,” she said.
— Meanwhile, NCIS: Los Angeles, which followed the original series on Tuesdays last season, is moving over to the 10 p.m. Monday slot. “10 p.m. [on Mondays] was not up to our standards and we have pretty high standards,” Kahl said of the move. (The time slot previously hosted Hostages and then Intelligence, both of which were canceled.) “We thought it could absolutely stand on its own.” The latest member of the NCIS family, NCIS: New Orleans will take Los Angeles’ spot, followed by Person of Interest, which stays put after previously growing on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
— CBS’s psychological thriller from Kevin Williamson Stalker, which Tassler called a “great companion piece to Criminal Minds,” will take over CSI’s Wednesday night 10 p.m. time slot. Tassler said Williamson, who currently has shows on Fox and The CW (The Following and The Vampire Diaries, respectively), studied CBS procedurals for his projects. “Leave it to Kevin to come up with a very scary, suspenseful show,” she added. “It should scare the bejesus out of all of us.”
— Tassler also revealed that CBS passed on the How I Met Your Mother spinoff, How I Met Your Dad, from executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. The project, which was to star indie star Greta Gerwig and feature the voice of Meg Ryan, will likely be shopped to other networks by studio 20th Century Fox Television. “There were elements of the pilot that didn’t work out,” Tassler said. “They certainly can [shop it], but we reached out, tried to do a redo… It wasn’t what they wanted to do.”
— Matthew Perry’s The Odd Couple, an update of the classic Neal Simon play, and the latest drama from Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan Battle Creek, will debut
midseason later in the season. Returning shows Mike & Molly and Undercover Bosses are holding as well.
The full schedule is at the bottom of the story, and the new shows are now arranged in night-of-the-week order.
3. Scorpion (Mondays at 9 p.m.)
Who’s in it? Katharine McPhee (Smash), Elyes Gabel, Robert Patrick (The Unit), Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham
Who created it? Nick Santora (Prison Break), who executive produces with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Heather Kadin, Justin Lin, Scooter Braun, and Walter O’Brien (on whose life the show is based)
What’s it about? The government tasks a man with the fourth-highest IQ in the world (Gabel) to lead a team of equally savvy geniuses to fend of a wide array of technologically-advanced attacks. Along the way he meets a waitress (McPhee), whose son displays the kinds of gifts that would make him a perfect addition — one day — to their team.
First impressions? With Scorpion, CBS is playing to two of their biggest strengths: team-based procedurals and the fish-out-of-water fun that comes from a lay person being surrounded by geniuses. The trailer, which is equal parts engaging and exciting, indicates that those are two great tastes that actually go together very well. — Jarett Wieselman
5. NCIS: New Orleans (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
Who’s in it? Scott Bakula (Looking), Zoe McLellan (JAG), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Lucas Black, Paige Turco
Who created it? Gary Glasberg (NCIS), who will executive produce with Mark Harmon
What’s it about? It’s pretty much like NCIS, but this spinoff will instead follow the personnel at the New Orleans office, who handle cases across the lower southeast of the United States. It will delve into the NOLA scene, which attracts many military officers on leave. So… more cases, new scenery.
First impression? If the audible groan from the crowd at CBS’s upfront presentation as soon as this show was mentioned is any indication, it seems people may be growing tired of the NCIS franchise. That said, if anyone can charm the pants off an audience, it’s Scott Bakula. This trailer — culled from footage from the two-part backdoor pilot that aired on March 25 and April 1 — is only a very quick look at the new drama set in the town that’s fast becoming a favorite on television (see The Originals, American Horror Story: Coven), so it’s hard to say if it’ll recapture the magic that Mark Harmon’s original series casts. — Jaimie Etkin
7. Stalker (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
Who’s it in? Maggie Q (Nikita), Dylan McDermott (Hostages), Marian Klaveno, Victor Rasuk
Who created it? Kevin Williamson (The Following)
What’s it about? Set in the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD, Stalker follows two officers (Q and McDermott) with very different approaches to crime solving, but similar reasons for accepting the job. One can only hope that these stalkers don’t employ Edgar Allen Poe masks during their crimes. (Shudder.)
First impressions? Tassler called this the scariest show that CBS has ever produced, and she is a woman of her word. From the malevolent mask that opens the clip to the shifting carpet conclusion, the edge of my seat was occupied throughout. It’s also nice to see some flecks of humor peppering the trailer because not enough mirth often leads me to change the channel. — Jarett Wieselman
9. The McCarthys (Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. after football)
Who’s in it? Jack McGee (Rescue Me), Joey McIntyre (The Heat), Jimmy Dunn, Tyler Ritter, Laurie Metcalf (Getting On), Kelen Coleman
Who created it? Brian Gallivan (Are You There, Chelsea?), who executive produces with Will Gluck. Mike Sikowitz (The Class) will serve as showrunner.
What’s it about? This multi-camera comedy centers around a loud, brash, and sports-crazed Irish-Catholic Boston family that lives together in a three-floor house… and the one member of the clan who dares to move out.
First impression? The humor here seems to heavily weigh on the singular gay son in a traditional big Boston family and for the uber-traditional CBS, that’s a bit of a risk. Let’s just hope the laughs come from a respectable place. There is plenty of potential here, particularly with Laurie Metcalf as the McCarthy matriarch, and, as Tassler pointed out at the upfront presentation, this show makes for two (Joey McIntyre and Donnie Wahlberg) members of New Kids On The Block now on CBS. For this, we should all be grateful. —Jaimie Etkin
11. Madam Secretary (Sundays at 8 p.m.)
Who’s in it? Tea Leoni (Spanglish), Tim Daly (The Mindy Project), Bebe Neuwirth, Geoffrey Arenda, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen, Katherine Herzer
Who created it? Barbara Hall (Homeland), who executive produces with Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary, and Tracy Mercer. David Semel directed the pilot.
What’s it about? Lean in: After taking time off to raise her family, Elizabeth McCord (Leoni) is hired as secretary of state where she immediately makes waves — and headlines — for her unusual approach to international diplomacy.
First impressions? With a strong female protagonist in Leoni’s Elizabeth Faulkner McGill, who is also a working mother, Madam Secretary is very clearly designed to appeal directly to The Good Wife’s audience (also why CBS is pairing the two dramas on Sunday nights). I have some doubts, however, that those fans will take as passionately to this series after watching the decent, but uninspiring trailer. Once the groundwork is laid, I’m hoping future episodes will dedicate more time to examining political crises through McGill’s nonpartisan eyes, much in the way The Good Wife has doled out incredibly topical social commentary through legal cases. — Jarett Wieselman
13. CSI: Cyber (Sundays at 10 p.m.)
Who’s in it? Patricia Arquette (Medium)
Who created it? Written and produced by CSI vets Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony E. Zuiker, and Ann Donahue. Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are executive producing.
What’s it about? Special agent Avery Ryan (Arquette) works to solve crimes as the head of the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI. The concept for the spinoff was integrated into an episode of the original CSI that aired in April. And the series marks Arquette’s post-Medium return to primetime.
First impressions? No trailer available yet.
14. The Odd Couple (TBD)
Who’s in it? Matthew Perry (Friends), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911), Lindsay Sloane, Sarah Baker (Go On), Wendell Pierce (The Michael J. Fox Show)
Who created it? Perry wrote the pilot script, based on Neil Simon’s classic Broadway play, and will executive produce with Joe Keenan (Frasier), Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Carl Beverly, and Sarah Timberman (Justified).
What’s it about? Perry steps into the role of messy bachelor Oscar Madison, who must learn to get along with his comically mismatched roommate, persnickety Felix Unger (Lennon). Hilarity undoubtedly ensues.
First impressions? No trailer available yet.
15. Battle Creek (TBD)
Who’s in it? Josh Duhamel. And that’s all you need to know. (Amiright ladies?) But also: Dean Winters, Janet McTeer, Kal Penn, Edward Fordham Jr., and Aubrey Dollar.
Who made it? Creator Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), who executive produces with with Mark Johnson (Rectify) and showrunner David Shore (House)
What’s it about? This new detective series, which has actually been in development for a decade, is set in Battle Creek, Michigan, and follows Detective Russ Agnew (Winters) and FBI agent Milton Chamberlain (Duhamel), who patrol the quasi-mean streets of the town. Bryan Singer is also attached to direct and executive produce. So… yeah.
First impression? (As soon as this trailer, which played at the upfront presentation, is released by CBS, we’ll add it here!) As the beginning of this trailer points out, Josh Duhamel is dreamy and that’s something CBS is banking on with this new show I’m tempted to refer to as a dramedy. Battle Creek hits a new note, not just for the network, but for creator Vince Gilligan, who is doing something very different from Breaking Bad here. Yes, the show has the traditional good cop-bad cop dynamic with Duhamel as the former and Dean Winters as the latter, but there was far more quirkiness and comedy in the trailer than one would have assumed based on the surface details. —Jaimie Etkin
8-8:30 p.m. — The Big Bang Theory (while football airs), 2 Broke Girls
8:30-9 p.m. — Mom
9-10 p.m. — Scorpion (new)
10-11 p.m. — NCIS: Los Angeles
8- 9 p.m. — NCIS
9-10 p.m. — NCIS: New Orleans (new)
10-11 p.m. — Person of Interest
8-9 p.m. — Survivor
9-10 p.m. — Criminal Minds
10-11 p.m. — Stalker (new)
8-11 p.m. EST, 5-8 p.m. PST — Thursday Night Football (Sept. 11-Oct. 23)
(As of Oct. 30)
8-8:30 p.m. — The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9 p.m. — The Millers
9-9:30 p.m. — Two and a Half Men
9:30-10 p.m. — The McCarthys (new)
10-11 p.m. — Elementary
8-9 p.m. — The Amazing Race
9-10 p.m. — Hawaii Five-O
10-11 p.m. — Blue Bloods
8-10 p.m. — Crimetime Saturday
10-11 p.m. — 48 Hours
7-8 p.m. — 60 Minutes
8-9 p.m. — Madam Secretary (new)
9-10 p.m — The Good Wife
10-11 p.m. — In the fall: CSI, later in the season: CSI: Cyber (new)
This post has been updated to change language originally taken from a press release.