I’ll give this to CBS: they are completely unapologetic. People say their shows are too white, don’t have enough female leads, that their dramas are too procedural, that their comedies are hacky. So what do they do this pilot season? Lean into their perceived failings, as if they’re strengths. If you go purely by Nielsen ratings, I guess they’ve done OK with that strategy to date.
Like Fox with baseball, the CBS schedule gets a bit screwed up by NFL football the first half of fall. They’re not being shy about trotting out freshmen series though. SEAL Team, Wisdom of the Crowd, 9JKL, and Me, Myself and I all launch at the start of the season. Only Young Sheldon and S.W.A.T. are being held until after the football contractual period ends, with the former having The Big Bang Theory as a lead-in, it shouldn’t suffer ill effects from a late launch.
Young Sheldon was a straight-to-series, and it’s not surprising it’s getting paired with The Big Bang Theory, despite being a single-cam. I don’t often comment on trailers, but this one was a bit more poignant compared with expectations. I guess that’s good for preventing Sheldon overload, but will viewers put up with less laughs than the typical multi-cam they schedule after TBBT? They’ve squandered that timeslot advantage numerous times, so it’s certainly worth a shot.
Ashish will be happy to see SEAL Team and S.W.A.T. on the small screen, as those were his two favorites for the greenlight. They both seem like competently done CBS series that should be relatively easy to publicize. Of the two, SEAL Team gets the better timeslot and lead-in (Survivor vs. a comedy block).
The elephant in the room at CBS would be Star Trek, except they’re only teasing the premiere on CBS before jettisoning it to CBS All Access. Can they recoup lost advertising dollars by airing it online instead of on network? I’m not sure. Selling overseas should help offset production cost, but this is a bold play by CBS to see how devoted fans really are.
Things have been pretty steady at CBS for a while. This pilot season feels like about what you’d expect from the network. The lack of new multi-cams, outside of 9JKL, might signal a change of strategy, or it might just be how things shook out this year. Regardless, CBS needs more than anything else for competitive, interesting Thursday football games. Something they didn’t get last year, that killed them in the overall ratings more than any underperforming new series, such as The Great Indoors.
Andrew Woodberry | Contributor