March 14, 2012 11:15am PT by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
CBS Renews 15 Series; in 'Preliminary' Talks for 'Two and a Half Men'
CBS is getting ahead of the competition with a series of pickups. Among those returning to the most-watched network are No. 1 series NCIS and spinoff NCIS: LA as well as No. 1 newsmagazine 60 Minutes. They join previously announced returnees How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Survivor on CBS' future schedule, with discussions surrounding the future of Two and a Half Men under way. Left off the list of pickups are rookie dramas A Gifted Man and Poppy Montgomery's Unforgettable, whose futures remain uncertain.
Here's a look at what's returning:
Blue Bloods: The Tom Selleck starrer has been a solid performer for the network on Friday nights. The third-season renewal comes as the New York-set cop drama has averaged 10.4 million total viewers this season, with a 1.6 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
NCIS: The renewal for the veteran procedural's 10th season comes as no surprise as the JAG spinoff continues to be the No. 1 scripted show on television, averaging a 3.4 in the demo and 17.7 million viewers so far this season. The drama starring Mark Harmon recently marked its 200th episode and continues to be valuable asset to the network and studio, consistently outperforming Fox's Glee in the Tuesday at 8 p.m. slot.
NCIS: LA: The spinoff starring LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell will return for a fourth season on the network, with CBS giving a full renewal to its Tuesday night block. Airing after the flagship series, the Los Angeles-set procedural has averaged 14.8 million and a 3.0 in the demo so far this season.
Person of Interest: Despite stiff competition in its 9 p.m. Thursday slot, the freshman drama from executive producer J.J. Abrams has carved out a loyal audience, averaging 12 million total viewers and a 2.6 in the demo. The series becomes the first Abrams vehicle to earn a second-season renewal since 2006-07's What About Brian. Thus far, it's the network's only rookie drama to earn a second-season pickup as the futures of its Patrick Wilson drama A Gifted Man and Unforgettable remain in question.
The Mentalist: In the prime Thursday at 10 p.m. slot, the veteran procedural starring Simon Baker is averaging 12 million total viewers and a 2.4 demo rating in its fourth season. A recent time-slot trial on Friday night, where it notched 11.8 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo, was down nearly 30 percent in the later but up double digits in the time slot previously occupied by A Gifted Man, which had completed its run.
Criminal Minds: Although the Criminal Minds spinoff failed to gain traction and was canceled after one season, the original continues to deliver for CBS. Now in its seventh season, the FBI drama is averaging 11.6 million viewers, with a 3.1 rating in the 18-49 demo on Wednesdays nights this season. Co-star Paget Brewster is set to leave the show at the end of the current season.
The Good Wife: The Julianna Margulies vehicle has been an awards magnet for the network, which tends to fare better with ratings than it does accolades. In its third season, the legal drama from Robert and Michelle King still manages to lure 10 million viewers and a 2 demo rating among younger viewers during its competitive Sunday night block.
Hawaii Five-0: The island-set cop drama is luring 9.8 million viewers with a 2.7 demo rating on Monday nights. More impressive is the lucrative syndication deal the series reboot inked with TNT in spring 2011; the Turner network will begin airing episodes in 2014.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The procedural will return for a 13th season. The news comes after a tumultuous year for the lynchpin of the billion-dollar franchise. Ted Danson took over for Laurence Fishburne at the beginning of the season and was later joined by Elisabeth Shue as Marg Helgenberger’s replacement. As of early March, the series was averaging 10.6 million viewers (and a 2.5 in the demo) on Wednesday evenings.
2 Broke Girls: The freshman comedy starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs opened to a ratings windfall despite being bucked by critics for its racism and sexism. Following the heavily hyped return of CBS' Two and a Half Men, with Ashton Kutcher in for the ousted Charlie Sheen, its premiere drew a whopping 19.2 million total viewers and a 7.0 rating in the demo. The Monday night comedy was the first freshman series to earn the back-nine pickup at the network. Season to date, it stands as the No. 1 freshman comedy, averaging 10.8 million total viewers and a 4.0 in the demo.
Mike & Molly: Series star Melissa McCarthy, hot off her success on the big screen with Bridesmaids, picked up an Emmy for her role opposite Billy Gardell. In its second season on Monday nights, the multicamera comedy from creator Mark Roberts and executive producer Chuck Lorre is averaging 10.9 million total viewers with a 3.5 demo rating.
Undercover Boss: The unscripted series has failed to draw the kind of post-Super Bowl ratings it launched with in 2010 but has still managed to draw more than 10 million viewers (and a 2.4 rating in the demo) since its third-season return and shift to Friday in January. Already this season, viewers have gone undercover with the president of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates and the CEO of Diamond Resorts International.
The Amazing Race: The long-running reality competition series from Bertram van Munster and Jerry Bruckheimer Television remains an Emmy and ratings darling for the network on Sunday night. The renewal brings the Phil Keoghan-hosted series into its 21st season.
60 Minutes: The venerable newsmagazine will return for its 44th. Despite its executive producer Jeff Fager taking on greater responsibility at the network, the program has managed to draw 13.7 million viewers to its Sunday night slot this season and remains the top-rated show in its space.
48 Hours Mystery: The series that has called CBS home since 1988 will return as well. The newsmagazine, which made headlines this season for its Natalie Woods coverage, has averaged 5.5 million viewers in its Saturday evening slot.
For its part, the network said it is in "preliminary discussion" regarding future seasons of Two and a Half Men, with contractual discussions likely delaying the expected renewal. The Lorre comedy has grown both in ratings and buzz in the wake of Sheen's departure. Now in its ninth season, Men has lured nearly 14 million viewers and a hugely impressive 4.7 demo rating on Monday nights with Sheen replacement Kutcher as the show’s lead. Kutcher has not yet inked a deal to remain with the series, but assured PaleyFest attendees this week that he “wants to work with these guys” and was waiting to hear from “the powers that be.”