TCA: CBS readying for 2015-16 season

The cast of CBS' new upcoming "Supergirl". (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS -- © 2015 CBS Broadcasting Network.  All rights reserved.
The cast of CBS’ new upcoming “Supergirl”. (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS — © 2015 CBS Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved.

Top-rated network ready to defend their crown

CBS trotted out its stars for TCA last week, touting its successes and promoting its new shows. Here’s a rundown on how it went with reviews of selected show panels:

Executive session: Nina Tassler talked about how CBS does business with competitors  – such as Netflix – which also turns out to be some of their biggest customers. CBS has licensing deals with Netflix for some of their product, notably older TV shows such as Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. CBS also competes with Netflix with over-the-top [Internet] service CBS All Access. Tassler also show confidence in her new late-night guy Stephen Colbert, the man taking over the Late Show from David Letterman on September 8. “ [Colbert] has a limitless amount of creative tools in his tool chest. He has a real joy of performing.” Tassler told reporters.

She also defended the single-camera comedy format, after saying last year multi-cam was more suited for CBS – though now, there’s only one on the fall schedule (Big Bang Theory.) Tassler said she was more open to single-cam comedies. She made no decisions on the fates of Person Of Interest or Under The Dome, though the latter’s “dome” is coming down, opening up more storytelling possibilities. Shouldn’t the name change then?

Stephen Colbert at CBS Press Tour. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Stephen Colbert at CBS Press Tour. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

And speaking of Colbert…he appeared in the last segment of the press tour. While he declined to detail specifics about his new show, he did say what it’s not going to be: his old persona from Comedy Central: “That guy was a tool” said Colbert at the tour, referring to his character on The Colbert Report. And since he won’t be in character, he “[doesn’t] have to hold back at all” when it comes to interviewing, he says.

The old Colbert Report staff is working on this show, and CBS is taking a hands-off approach. Plus, don’t look for any late-night wars you saw with Jay Leno and David Letterman: Colbert doesn’t believe in them.

Colbert’s first guest is George Clooney, and his first musical act is Kendrick Lamar. Should be fun.

New Face The Nation host John Dickerson faced the press, and talked about presidential candidate Donald Trump (he said the press should move on to him) and is the man who is moderating the Democratic (Nov. 14) and Republican (Feb. 13) debates. CBS News president David Rhoades joined Dickerson on stage and said of CBS News’ convention coverage, he’s going where the action is: more on the floor, less in the comfy skyboxes. Rhoades also touted growth for their network morning and evening newscasts.

During CBS Interactive’s presentation (you can tell TCA members were snoozing through this one), CBS Vision head David Polltrack wants to ween viewers away from their DVRs and have them back watching live TV. “We’d love to transfer as much of the current non-monetized DVR post-seven day viewing to monetized viewing”, Polltrack said. He noted there are less viewers fast-forwarding though ads these days because according to him, people are “too busy on their phones” to fast forward. Not sure where he came up with that, nor do we want to know. 

Another anticipated CBS series coming this fall is SuperGirl, featuring Melissa Benoist who was the first to audition for the role – and won the part. Even though the series is a drama, executive producer Greg Berlanti said Supergirl is “part-workplace comedy”. Nice try Greg. But once Big Bang moves to Thursdays in late October, Mondays would be without any sitcoms on any network for the first time in television history. Supergirl premieres October 26.

"Angel From Hell". (CBS)
“Angel From Hell”. (CBS)

Next up was Angel From Hell, starring Maggie Lawson and Dolton native and former Glee star Jane Lynch (as the angel, naturally.) But before you get any ideas, this isn’t exactly Highway To Heaven and Jane Lynch isn’t playing a Michael Landon role: she’s plays an angel who has substance abuse issues (hence the hell.) Creator Tad Quill said his show is being looked at as a contemporary version of Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie, whatever that means. Quill also said religion won’t play a central role (it didn’t in Highway either): “The show brings up question of faith but is first and foremost a comedy”, Quill told reporters at the press tour.

Don’t look for Jane Lynch’s character to fall in love on the show – but she can still bang anyone: “I could go through the whole family if I wanted to.” joked Lynch.

Next up was new single-cam laffer Life In Pieces which features James Brolin as head of a family that gets in a lots of wacky situations. Executive producer James Wiener told the press the series is like “Looney Tunes”, referring to the classic Warner Bros. cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Co.

Funny. I swore Life In Pieces was more like Modern Family and Parenthood. Only not as entertaining.

And those wacky situations the show was referring to? If you like fake funerals and babies pooping on the delivery table, this one is right up your alley. “We’re committed and CBS is committed to letting us tell odd stories,” said EP Aaron Kaplan.

Well, I’m committed not to tune into this show. 

Also holding panels were new dramas Limitless and Code Black, two forgettable dramas I’m sure not worth talking about – especially Limitless, which is – you guessed it – Another frickin’ FBI drama!