May 9, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15: CBS and Its Very CBS Pick-Ups


CBS was, for the most part, very CBS in its choice of new series for next season, with a pair of spin-offs, some additional procedurals, one retread sitcom and another that fits right into the network’s multi-camera family comedy sweet spot.  The biggest surprise was the omission, at least for now, of How I Met Your Dad, considered to be a sure thing to take its mothership’s spot on Monday.  (However, there’s some speculation that CBS might still be in negotiations with 20th Century Fox TV on the deal for the show.)  At a first glance, it’s hard to see how most of these are likely to help with the steady aging and erosion of the CBS audience, but here’s the rundown:


BATTLE CREEK:  This was CBS’s only direct-to-series order, qualifying for that honor because of its combination of creators:  Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan and House‘s David Shore.  Despite that pedigree, the show itself sounds like a down-the-middle CBS procedural, with mismatched partners (Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters) fighting crime.  The pilot was directed by embattled X-Men helmer Bryan Singer, and it’s a co-production between Sony TV and CBS Television Studios.

MADAME SECRETARY:  The network’s biggest swing (perhaps a companion for The Good Wife?) is about a US Secretary of State, with Tea Leoni in the no-really-it’s-not-Hillary role.  The rest of the cast includes people like Tim Daly and Bebe Neuwirth, the series creator is Homeland‘s Barbara Hall, and the pilot was directed by David Semel.  It’s an in-house production.

SCORPION:  A high-tech procedural that sounds like it’ll try to be a better version of Intelligence, about a squad of super-geniuses who protect the innocent from the new wave of digital threats.  The cast includes Robert Patrick and Katharine McPhee, the series creator is Nick Santora, who’d been a writer on Prison Break, the pilot director is Justin Lin and it’s another in-house show.

STALKER:  Kevin Williamson (The Following) is back, this time with a procedural about detectives (Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott) who specialize in tracking down and stopping stalkers.  The pilot was directed by Liz Friedlander, and it’s from Warners.

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS:  Not a lot to explain here.  Scott Bakula is the head of the Big Easy squad, which was introduced via planted pilot earlier this season.  Gary Glasberg is handling the showrunning duties, and needless to say it’s in-house.

CSI: CYBER:  Another planted pilot, another spin-off, with Patricia Arquette in the lead.  The pilot was written by senior CSI magnates Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donohue, and it’s not clear at this point who the showrunner or supporting cast will be.  In-house, of course.


THE ODD COUPLE:  CBS certainly isn’t trying to run away from its image as the oldster network with this reboot of the 1960s Neil Simon play/movie and 1970s sitcom, this time with Matthew Perry as Oscar and Thomas Lennon as Felix.  Perry and Joe Keenan wrote the pilot, and it’s another notch on CBS TV Studios’ in-house belt.

THE MCCARTHYS:  An ensemble multi-camera, multi-generational blue-collar family sitcom set in Boston, written by Brian Gallivan.  It’s a Sony TV/CBS TV Studios co-production.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."