Today, CBS gathered advertisers to announce their 2014-2015 slate of television programs. Television fans not only got to see if their favorite shows would come back for another year – hooray for Mom, rest in peace The Crazy Ones – but also get a first look at the new shows that will be rolling out come fall. Though CBS is mostly known for multi-camera style comedies that seem a little dated (Two and a Half Men) and simple, unserialized, very unambitious procedurals (CSI, NCIS, and roughly most of their programming slate), the network has actually broken free of its moorings a bit. The Good Wife is character-based, heavily serialized, wonderfully acted and the best drama on television at the moment. Person of Interest is trying to be ambitious as well, and not for nothing, the network did try out some single-camera sitcoms last season. The first clues as to CBS’s new direction are the new show’s trailers. What are the first opinions?
Scorpion is about “a tactical team made up of the smartest people on the planet”, otherwise known as some quirky geniuses and computer hackers, who begin working with the government to fight terrorist threats to the United States. Though it certainly seems to be very CBS in the fact that it will be a procedural, case-of-the-week type show, Scorpion does have a few things working for it that may make it more engaging than average CBS fare. In this show, the characters are not police or investigators… they are the nerds, the dorks. The geek squad. This inherently gives this show a much more youthful and comedic spin than an average CBS show, and may result in something CBS could use – a hit with younger audiences.
NCIS: New Orleans, on the other hand, is straight out of the classic CBS playbook. There is not really much new to report here – if a person likes the original series, they will probably like this one. For television fans who are interested in more than a basic procedural, this may not be their cup of tea. The show does, however, have a couple factors that will be helpful in building an audience: the charismatic Scott Bakula in the show’s lead role (coming off a great arc on HBO’s Looking) as well as the New Orleans setting to keep the who fresh and distinctive.
Stalker follows in the footsteps of shows like Criminal Minds in that is a dark, creepy procedural. This show specifically focuses on crimes related to stalking – not just murders, but home invasions, harassment, and the like. There’s one key element that keeps this show from being run-of-the-mill: Maggie Q in the lead role. The powerhouse star of Nikita brings a much needed fire and true ability to kick butt that cannot be faked. Having a strong female heroine will hopefully negate some of the attacks on women the show will inevitably depict.
The McCarthys is a multi-camera sitcom about a blue-collar Boston family and the family’s black sheep – their gay son. For an older-skewing network like CBS, having a gay man as the lead of a show is actually quite progressive (though for most other networks this would not be notable). Though the trailer is not incredibly hysterical, this could be one to watch out for. After all, the show does feature Laurie Metcalf, a comic actress so deft she won three Emmy Awards for Roseanne and recently did some of the funniest, most brilliant acting of 2013 on HBO’s Getting On.
Madam Secretary sees Tea Leoni coming to television, playing former government analyst Elizabeth McCord who suddenly becomes the Secretary of State. The show certainly has potential, with Leoni displaying steely resolve and panache in the title role. The show also features a great cast, including Zeljko Ivanek and Bebe Neuwirth. A show that seems to be both character-based and political in nature could be a refreshing change of pace from CBS’s crime-solving schedule – and since it’s scheduled right before The Good Wife, the fall may be serving up one of network drama’s best one-two punches.
Opinion by Alex Warheit