THR's Midseason TV Report Card: Where the Networks Stand Heading Into TCA
NBC prays for a "Smash" and the other broadcast nets arrive with a sense of (cautious) optimism.
Where It Stands: CBS remains the picture of stability. Even discounting the quickly canceled sitcom How to Be a Gentleman, the network hits the season midpoint with the No. 1 new comedy (2 Broke Girls) and a resurgent Two and a Half Men, which is up a staggering 33 percent in the coveted 18-to-49 demo with the substitution of Ashton Kutcher for Charlie Sheen. CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler has given full-season orders to two of her three new dramas: Unforgettable and Person of Interest. Meanwhile, the supernatural drama A Gifted Man, which is struggling on perennially low-rated Friday, is getting a fighting chance with an order for three more episodes. Given CBS' midseason status as the most-watched network and No. 1 (tied with Fox) in the 18-to-49 demo, it has just one new show for midseason: the Rob Schneider/Cheech Marin comedy ¡Rob!, which displaces Rules of Engagement on Thursday. Waiting on deck is an ensemble cop drama, The 2-2, from executive producers Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal.
What it Needs: Despite its success in comedy, CBS could use a sitcom worthy of pairing with The Big Bang Theory on Thursday. Like $#*! My Dad Says last year, Gentleman certainly was not it. Fielding successful comedies, notes Kelly Kahl, senior executive vp, CBS Primetime, "is difficult for everyone."
What to Look For: While the CSI franchise is showing its age and onetime hot drama The Mentalist has declined, there's still plenty of life -- and ancillary revenue -- in the veteran procedurals. Insiders hope Elisabeth Shue's addition to the cast of CSI beginning Feb. 15 can compensate for the departure of Marg Helgenberger from the long-running forensics drama. On the comedy side, that explains the big marketing push for ¡Rob! in advance of its Jan. 12 debut; if it plays well, it could finally be curtains for Rules. The network also is hoping a third cycle of Undercover Boss, which debuts Jan. 15, will return to the ratings it enjoyed during its first season.