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.
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.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
To his credit, Greg Garcia, creator/showrunner of the new CBS comedy The Millers starring Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale and JB Smoove, took the full hit for needing to recast two characters in the original pilot with new actors. Michael Rapaport and Mary Elizabeth Ellis had to be replaced with Jayma Mays and Nelson Franklin. And as Garcia explained during a TCA panel this morning promoting the show, it was all his fault. “It was 100% on me,” he said, “because those characters in the initial script were underdeveloped. I didn’t do a good enough job of conveying to the audience of who they are. I didn’t write funny enough material. My attention was on some other things in the pilot.” He said he apologized to the actors for his writing shortcomings and having to pay the price. “Things kind of have a snowball effect when you’re in testing,” Garcia went on, “and you just get past the point where there’s anything you can do. And that was very unfortunate for them that I was asleep at the wheel.” He believes he’s finally gotten a handle on the issues surrounding those recast characters “with the help of our writing staff. I think we’ve done a better job this time.”
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.
Alix Jaffe has been named head of Greg Garcia‘s Amigos de Garcia Prods. This is the first time Garcia has taken in an executive at his company, which is one year into a rich four-year overall deal at CBS TV Studios. During his first year at the studio, Garcia landed two pilot orders at CBS, with one of the projects, multi-camera comedy The Millers, landing on the fall schedule. Jaffe will oversee both current series and future development for Amigos de Garcia, beginning with The Millers, on which she will serve as a producer. Garcia first worked with Jaffe when she was a network current executive on his previous series at CBS, Yes, Dear. “As a current executive on the show, I was always impressed with Alix’s contributions to the show, and over the years she has remained not only a good friend but someone whose opinion I have always sought out and valued,” said Garcia. “She’s incredibly smart and funny, and I consider myself very lucky to have her in this position.”