May 19, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look At CBS’s New Dramas

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Written by: Mitch Salem

>DISCLAIMER: These initial impressions are based on the clips (usually 3-5 minutes) released by the networks to use in their Upfront presentations and for promos.  They’re chosen to sell the show, not to accurately represent it.  So take the reactions below with a large satchel of salt–we may well feel differently about these shows once we see the full pilots.  That being said, it’s also true that these clips are carefully selected to give the best impression possible of a show–if it still doesn’t look great, that may not bode well.

Clips are available, among other places, at  (NOTE:  the network hasn’t released any footage or a timeslot for their midseason rookie cop show THE 2-2.)
PERSON OF INTEREST (Thursday 9PM): The most (only?) interesting new show on the CBS schedule, and they’ve given it their showcase slot.  It’s yet another JJ Abrams production (besides the 3 shows he has on next year’s air, his Super 8 is the most buzzed-about movie of the summer–not a bad year); this one is written by Jonathan Nolan of the Dark Knight franchise.  It stars Michael Emerson, beloved by all Lost fans, as a mysterious tycoon who hires Jim Caviezel, ex-CIA agent, to stop crimes before they can be committed, which Caviezel does by any means necessary.  It’s not clear from the trailer whether there’s something otherworldly guiding Emerson’s knowledge, or if it’s just going to be a high-tech action show.  It certainly appears to be a classy one. 
A GIFTED MAN (Friday 8PM): Sliding neatly into the old Ghost Whisperer timeslot is this inspirational, supernatural soap with A-list credentials:  Jonathan Demme of Silence of the Lambs is the director, and the writer, Susannah Grant, also wrote Erin Brockovich.  Patrick Wilson plays a hot-shot surgeon who starts to become a better person when his deceased ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) appears to him from beyond the grave; she used to run a free clinic, and under her influence, he learns about helping the less fortunate.  Despite the evident talent of everyone involved, it feels like a very soft premise, and even in the trailer it’s clear that there’s limited mileage in having Wilson continually deliver variations on “But you’re not real!” as people around him wonder who he’s talking to.  This could easily become a Touched By An Angel redux (which, considering its years on the air, probably wouldn’t be bad news from the network’s point of view).
UNFORGETTABLE (Tuesday 10PM):  A very CBS cop show.  Poppy Montgomery of Without A Trace plays a NY detective who has a (real-life) condition that allows her to literally remember every instant of her life and everything that’s happened during it–except, wouldn’t you know it, the details of her sister’s murder.  She uses her abilities to solve crimes, partnered with her ex (Dylan Walsh) and the rest of his homicide team.  The pilot is written by John Belucci and Ed Redlich, who’s got tons of experience running shows like Without A Trace, and the pilot was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the original Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  The visual gimmick of Montgomery watching copies of herself walk around crime scenes as she uses her super-memory is less than thrilling, but much of the series will probably be a straightforward variation on The Mentalist.  The show’s time slot puts it into direct competition with ABC’s Body of Proof, which aims at an awfully similar demo (the happy ending would be if in the resulting melee, the winner that emerges is NBC’s excellent Parenthood).  

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."