In Depth

CBS Readies Just Five New Shows for Fall, Adds First-Run Episodes to Saturday Nights--Network Shifts 'Good Wife' and 'CSI' to Make Room for Freshman Offerings

By Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age

CBS said it would shake up its schedule by moving two of its better-known shows to new berths in prime time next fall and would also test running original programming on Saturday night, a night the big broadcast networks have virtually abandoned in recent years.

The network, which typically draws TV's broadest audiences, said it would move "The Good Wife" from its Tuesday-night perch and the venerable "CSI" from its Thursday-night roost in favor of brand-new programs that might find growth in those positions. CBS also said it would run original episodes of "Rules of Engagement" on Saturdays at 8 p.m., an experiment to see if how many viewers could be gained with fresh content amid the usual sea of Saturday-night reruns.

CBS is adding only five new programs to its fall schedule, with others held in reserve. Mondays remain largely the same with a new comedy, "2 Broke Girls," taking the 8:30 p.m. spot. The sitcom is focused on a mismatched pair of female roommates. "How I Met Your Mother" remains the 8 p.m. anchor, with a retooled version of "Two and a Half Men" running at 9 p.m., "Mike & Molly" at 9:30 and "Hawaii Five-0" at 10.

CBS executives suggested they were looking forward to the return of "Two and a Half Men" with Ashton Kutcher in the lead role. The show, one of CBS's best performing series with Charlie Sheen as the lead, has not done as well since Mr. Sheen left the program and stranded it in reruns. CBS said producer Chuck Lorre would devise a new storyline to explain the change in characters.

"NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles" remain on Tuesdays, followed by a new drama, "Unforgettable," at 10 p.m. "Unforgettable" centers on a detective with a rare condition that enables her to remember every detail from every day of her life.

On Wednesdays, CBS will run "Survivor" at 8 p.m., "Criminal Minds" at 9 p.m. and the original version of "CSI" at 10 p.m. "CSI" has run on Thursdays for years, so a move suggests CBS believes it can generate more buzz and growth on Thursdays with something new. CBS executives praised the performance of all three "CSI" dramas, noting that ratings for other programs that had moved -- "CSI: NY" now airs on Fridays after originally running on Wednesday and "CSI: Miami" is now on Sundays after debuting on Mondays -- had improved with their relocations.

CBS said it would continue to run comedies on Thursdays with "The Big Bang Theory" staying at 8 p.m. and a new sitcom, "How to Be A Gentleman," running at 8:30 p.m. The new show revolves around an odd mismatch of a "refined" writer and an "unrefined" personal trainer. At 9 p.m., CBS will air a new drama, "Person of Interest," a crime thriller about a former CIA agent and a mysterious billionaire who team up to prevent violent crime. "CSI: NY" continues on Fridays at 9 p.m. and "Blue Bloods" will continue to air that evening at 10 p.m. A new drama, "A Gifted Man," will air at 8. The show is about a surgeon whose life changes when his deceased ex-wife teaches him about the meaning of it from beyond the grave.

Saturdays start off with the new "Rules of Engagement" episodes at 8 p.m., followed by comedy and crime repeats and then "48 Hours Mystery" at 10 p.m.

Sundays feature "60 Minutes" at 7 p.m., "The Amazing Race" at 8 p.m., "The Good Wife" in a new perch at 9 p.m. and "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m.

Gone from the airwaves are CBS's "Criminal Minds" spinoff, "$#*! My Dad Says" and "The Defenders."

CBS said it would air "Undercover Boss" in midseason and had readied a new cop drama called "The 2-2" for the second half of the year.