CBS is tweaking its Thursday comedy lineup and adding two series in late midseason, new comedy Bad Teacher and returning procedural Unforgettable. Beginning February 27, the first week after the Sochi Olympics, veteran Two And A Half Men and freshman The Crazy Ones will switch places, with Men airing at 9 PM, followed by Crazy Ones. This is a more conventional lineup, with established shows (The Big Bang Theory, Men) as 8 PM and 9 PM anchors and newbies (The Millers, Crazy Ones) in the hammock positions behind them. I hear the reason CBS didn’t go with this schedule last fall was to try to protect Elementary at 10 PM, which was losing its drama lead-in as the network expanded its comedy block to two hours. A seasoned performer, Men was slated at 9:30 PM to lead to Elementary. After a huge launch in September behind an hourlong Big Bang, Crazy Ones has been delivering middling ratings, most recently posting a 1.7 in 18-49 last Thursday vs. 2.7 for its lead-in, The Millers, and 1.8 for lead-out Men. Crazy Ones also is a single-camera comedy sandwiched between two multicams, and Men will likely do better airing behind two other shows of its kind, Big Bang and Millers. Crazy Ones will wrap its 22-episode order on April 17 and will be replaced at 9:30 PM by another single-camera comedy, Bad Teacher, on April 24. The Men-Crazy Ones switcheroo is being done in part to prepare a launch pad for Bad Teacher, based on the hit feature, which will have three weeks to prove itself to CBS brass before they set the schedule for next season.
CBS Swaps ‘Two & Half Men’ & ‘Crazy Ones’, Schedules ‘Bad Teacher’ On Thursday, ‘Unforgettable’ On Friday
The prospect of returning to series television was intimidating at first, Robin Williams said Wednesday night at TCA. The star of CBS’ The Crazy Ones said the worst part was “the pressure of it being A Robin Williams Vehicle”. Now the series is more of an ensemble, and “that’s the great joy for me – the pressure is off. It’s really become something I enjoy,” he said, adding that he no longer is nagged by the pressure of ” ‘You’re back on TV. After 32 years.’ The ensemble is so good, and we’re growing,” he said, speaking glowingly of the “steady gig like this with a great group of people.”
We finally have some comedies to go with those three new dramas that had been picked up so far this fall. As expected, CBS has given Back 9 orders to The Crazy Ones, The Millers and Mom. The pickups come as Crazy Ones and The Millers ticked up by a tenth in the 18-49 fast nationals last night. While Mom slipped by a tenth this week, it comes from comedy Superman Chuck Lorre and stars Anna Faris, so there was no chance that show was not getting picked up. In fact, all three comedies hail from A-list auspices: Lorre, David E. Kelley (Crazy Ones) and Greg Garcia (The Millers). CBS has been touting the performance of its new comedies (sans swiftly cancelled We Are Men), which rank as No. 1-3 in total viewers and claim the top 2 spots in adults 18-49 among all new comedy series in another fall that has been pretty brutal to half-hour newcomers. “We’re proud of CBS’ leadership position in comedy and excited to build on it with the back nine pickups of these three new comedies,” said the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler. “These series are creatively distinct, continue to improve each week and are led by strong showrunners, writing and production staffs, and feature amazingly talented casts.” The only new CBS series that has not learned its fate yet is underperforming Monday drama Hostages. The serialized thriller was designed for a 15-episode-a-season run, so there is no back order to be given. Based on its high-profile auspices and solid DVR gains, the series will likely finish its first-season arc, possibly moved to a less trafficked spot on the schedule, with no further cycles.
In a highly competitive comedy landscape (this TV season opened with the most new comedies in primetime in a decade) CBS, which was getting tired of all the “WTF happened to 2 Broke Girls?” reports, decided to point out that it’s leading the comedy derby. CBS has the three most-watched comedy newcomers and the two highest in the age bracket advertisers target. Three weeks into the new season, David E. Kelley’s Robin Williams-starrer The Crazy Ones is the top-rated new comedy among 18- to 49-year-olds, and No. 4 rated among all comedies, behind only the network’s The Big Bang Theory, ABC’s Modern Family, and CBS’ final season of How I Met Your Mother. (While The Crazy Ones averaged 3.9% of the country’s viewers in that key age bracket, The Big Bang Theory is clocking a whopping 6%. In fairness, the era of the out-of-the-box comedy hit is pretty over — The Big Bang Theory started out with so-so numbers and critical repulsion.)
CBS’ The Millers is the second-most-watched new comedy in the demo this season (3.2 rating), beating CBS’ returning Two And A Half Men and the aforementioned 2 Broke Girls, which have both slipped noticeably this season and are each logging 2.9 rating in the age bracket. On the other hand, Two And A Half Men no longer sits right behind The Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights; it’s now an hour removed from that cushy time slot, to make room for The Millers and The Crazy Ones. And if CBS can split up those two older comedies and wind up with four comedies that are working — well, that’s good TV math. Meanwhile, CBS slid 2 Broke Girls to 8:30, where it came up a tick in the ratings this week. Now if the network can only convince the creators of the merits of character and storyline development.
CBS is earning the biggest premiums for its new TV series this season, according to the annual who’s-getting-what-for-which-new-series report in Adweek. Among CBS’s new crop, its new Robin Williams starrer The Crazy Ones snags an average cost …
The most CBS-ish new series of the 2013-14 TV season got off to a strong start last night, while the most NBC-like new series floundered. Nothing new there. Lucky for NBC, it aired the CBS-ish one — the new procedural crime drama The Blacklist, starring James Spader. Unfortunately for CBS, it aired the NBC-like, highly serialized event series that bellyflopped in same time slot as The Blacklist — the Toni Collette-Dylan McDermott starrer Hostages.
Once upon a time, long before DVRs, Netflix and original scripted cable programing, broadcast network execs eagerly anticipated the start of their new TV season to see which of the many, many new series they’d thrown against the wall would stick. These days, each network has one key new series it needs to work — really work, not “Vegas is the No. 1 new drama” work — to call a season successful.
ABC, for instance, needs to launch Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. If it clicks, nothing else matters. Super Fun Night? It can bomb — which is good because ABC has already decided to premiere the show with its second episode and that’s never a good sign. And Lucky 7 may be the series that demonstrates America will not watch a show about how winning the lottery messes you up — because that is their financial strategy. Weeks before S.H.I.E.L.D.’s scheduled unveiling, The Reporters Who Cover Television were already squealing with delight after being treated to its super-secret screening at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013, though there have been disturbing reports of subsequent scripts coming in so not-good that Joss Whedon had to take a break from the 85 other projects he’s working on to step in and do last-minute rewrites.
NBC, meanwhile, needs a 10 PM drama that isn’t flukey, isn’t serializes and doesn’t start to come apart at the seams in the second half of the season, like Revolution did last season. No matter how much you read about NBC badly needing to re-establish itself in comedy on Thursday nights (it’s over, get over it), Monday at 10 is NBC’s Must Fix TV. A Blacklist hit gives NBC the bright shiny 10 o’clock light with which to dazzle affiliate station execs grousing about the lousy lead-ins they’ve been getting for their late local news. The Blacklist needs to look as good ratings-wise, five or six weeks from now, as it did last night.
The first new fall series, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, premieres tonight, marking the unofficial start of the 2013-14 broadcast season. A slew of new shows and a legion of returning ones will unspool over the next couple of months. In the past, that would mean a bloody skirmish in every time slot, with one show coming out victorious and the rest in moderate or grave danger. Now with DVR and online viewing, several shows airing in the same time period can be popular. But will they all be successful? That is probably the biggest question facing the networks — how to translate eyeballs on different platforms into ratings and money from advertisers. While ad rates now are determined by C3 ratings that include playback (plus commercials) in the first three days after the premiere airing and the networks universally use Live+7 as ratings currency, Fox’s Kevin Reilly recently made a case for expanding the rating measurements to Live+30 and beyond and for including online viewing. In line with that, Fox this fall is introducing DVR and multi-platform lift projections for its shows. Meanwhile, CBS’ Leslie Moonves and David Poltrack recently proclaimed the decline of the adults 18-49 demo, which has been the key metric for advertisers. All that confusion opens the door for even more spin from the networks who can declare almost any show a hit using different viewing windows and demos. Maybe Netflix’s M.O., often criticized by its competitors, not to disclose any ratings data isn’t all that bad after all. If the company considers a series successful, it renews it, if not, it’s gone.
Back to the broadcast networks, which seem to be switching identities this fall. CBS’ highest-profile new drama, Hostages, is a serialized thriller vs. a classic procedural last year (Elementary). Meanwhile, NBC, which made its biggest drama push with the heavily serialized Revolution last fall, is getting behind a procedural The Blacklist, which inherited Revolution‘s Monday 10 PM slot, this year. Multi-camera leader CBS is making a push in single-camera comedy with The Crazy Ones and We Are Men, while single-camera-centric Fox is reverting to multi-camera comedies with Dads. Here are some challenges each of the networks faces:
“McDonalds did not pay, and did not have approval” on The Crazy Ones pilot episode, exec producer Jason Winer told TV critics today at TCA. In the first episode of the new CBS comedy from David E. Kelly and Winer, a Chicago ad agency head and his daughter, played by Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, try to get Kelly Clarkson to sing the old McDonalds jingle in an effort to hang on to that important client. Using a real brand is exciting…making up the names of products would not seem so real” Winer explained. “So far no money has changed hands”.
“If you look under your chairs there’s a Happy Meal there right now,” Williams jumped in.
The Crazy Ones stars Robin Williams as larger-than-life advertising genius Simon Roberts whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired… if he weren’t the boss. The image features Williams playfully posing with illuminated light bulbs.