CBS took the unusual step last week of renewing 11 returning series, without addressing the fate of any freshman series. What does that tell us? The most obvious thing is that none of the freshman series were breakout hits. It also might indicate they’re waiting to get a feel for this year’s crop of pilots.
Comedy has been on a bit of a steady decline at CBS. Relative to say NBC or Fox, the numbers are still very strong. But only The Big Bang Theory has been able to maintain boffo ratings. 2 Broke Girls continues to do OK, though its safety was always seemingly assured by a lucrative syndication deal. Mom gets occasional critical acclaim, with acceptable ratings. And that’s it for guaranteed returning comedies next year.
Mike & Molly has come to an end, freeing Melissa McCarthy to dedicate her time exclusively to the big screen (and possible guest appearances on the Gilmore Girls reboot). Angel from Hell just didn’t work as well as on the page. Life in Pieces, the only bubble comedy, will probably get a second season, making it possibly the only single cam CBS comedy on the air next year.
Where does that leave us this pilot season? With a whole lot of pilots, but not many open slots. CBS is definitely a drama channel first. Since Kevin James got a straight-to-series order, the competition is going to be fierce. And with many of these being multi-cam pilots, stars & audience excitement will dictate a lot of greenlights, and not just quality of script.