“With the addition of the NFL on Thursday night our schedule is pretty darn tight,” CBS’ CEO Les Moonves told investors this week, indicating the network planned to only add two new drama and two new comedy series for next season. Here is the proof of just how tight the network’s 2014-15 schedule is shaping up to be. As it does every year, in one fell swoop the network has renewed the bulk of its lineup. That includes nine drama series — flagship NCIS, NCIS: LA, Criminal Minds, Person Of Interest, Elementary, CSI, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods and critical darling The Good Wife — and five comedies: 2 Broke Girls, freshman The Millers and the three Chuck Lorre series, veteran Two And A Half Men, Mike & Molly and freshman Mom. They join Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory, which was just given a big three-season pickup. On the reality side, The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss are being renewed, joining Survivor, which is set for a milestone 30th cycle next season, as well as newsmagazines 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. All in all, 20 programs.
Not picked up is The Mentalist, the veteran procedural’s first time not being among the early renewals. The long-running drama has been on the bubble and, unlike Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods or The Good Wife, whose ratings have been on par or lower, Mentalist is not owned by CBS, making off-network money for the company the way the other three shows do. But The Mentalist is a very important property for Warner Bros TV with a very lucrative syndication deal and strong international sales, so expect the studio to fight hard for a seventh-season renewal, especially after the post-Red John creative reboot of the show was deemed successful. (The Mentalist creator/showrunner Bruno Heller’s expected departure to run his new series, Gotham at Fox, is not expected to be a major factor in the decision-making.)
Not surprisingly, not featured on the list are freshman dramas Hostages and Intelligence and freshman comedy The Crazy Ones. There seems to be an outside chance for procedural Intelligence, which had a ratings uptick this week, but no much hope for the other two. CBS even hired Hostages star Dylan McDermott in another pilot, and The Crazy Ones had taken a tumble in its new Thursday 9:30 PM slot. On the comedy side, CBS has two new shows that have not premiered yet: Friends With Better Lives, which the network has high hopes for and even featured it on its preliminary summer schedule, and Bad Teacher, which will replace Crazy Ones on Thursday. If last year is any indication, besides Criminal Minds, which wasn’t on the list of early renewals only because of tense renegotiations with the cast, all the other shows that didn’t get an early pickup were eventually cancelled in May. But the year before, both CSI: Miami and CSI: NY were left out, with the latter scoring a last-minute reprieve along with perennial bubble comedy Rules Of Engagement.
The Two And A Half Men‘s renewal is rumored to be for a possibly abbreviated final season in the vein of last year’s pickup of How I Met Your Mother. (A delayed Thursday lineup launch because of football next fall would accommodate that.) However, the long-running sitcom recently found its groove in the new Thursday 9 PM slot, so options are being kept open for now. Even with a full season for Men, if CBS is to pick up two new comedy series for next season as Moonves suggested, the network will have to renew at least one of its midseason comedies in order to maintain the two two-hour comedy blocks on Monday and Thursday.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.