CBS announces new 2013-14 schedule – with a few surprises

CBSTiffany network looking to maintain dominance

CBS released its 2013-14 primetime schedule Wednesday morning ahead of its presentation later in the afternoon – and believe it or not, there were a few surprises in the lineup.

For one, CBS is creating a two-hour comedy block on Thursday nights, based on the success of The Big Bang Theory. CBS has slotted its first single-cam comedy since 2009 (in fact, they have two of them) and its fall schedule features a star returning to television for the first time in 30 years.

CBS has only slotted eight new series for the 2013-14 campaign: five for the fall and three for Millers, and drama Hostages.

The three midseason entries are Intelligence, Reckless, and Friends With Better Lives. Also being held for midseason is Mike & Molly, which will have a full season of 22 episodes.

Monday nights has two new comedies, leading out of How I Met Your Mother is new single-cam We Are Men, about four guys who live in an apartment complex who share their misadventures in love. Leading out of 2 Broke Girls is Moms from Chuck Lorre. In this sitcom, a newly sober single mother raises (to try to raise) her kids in Napa Valley while putting up her nagging mom, played by Allison Janney). A new serialized drama closes out the evening with Hostages, where a surgeon is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (what else you think the series was about?)

Person Of Interest moves to Tuesday nights after NCIS: Los Angeles, while Wednesdays remains unchanged.

As long rumored (for years), CBS finally has expanded its comedy block to two hours. Following The Big Bang Theory is new comedy The Millers, which has Arrested Development star Will Arnett as a divorced news reporter who was looking forward to getting back in the singles’ life – until his bickering parents spoil those plans.

Next up is Crazy Ones, a single-cam from David E. Kelley. In his first regular TV role since Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams plays an ad executive who ran his agency with his daughter by his side, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ones is followed by veteran Two And A Half Men and Elementary.

Hawaii Five-O relocates to Friday nights, in between Undercover Boss and Blue Bloods. Both Saturday and Sunday nights remain unchanged.

To see the full 2013-14 CBS schedule and a complete description of all the new shows, click here. 

Thoughts: CBS won the adults 18-49 crown for the first time (in an non-Olympic year) since the 1970s – a stunning achievement given what I thought was a lackluster schedule (thank you, Super Bowl.) While CBS’ ratings will probably drop, you have to credit The Church Of Tisch for trying different things and mixing it up. For one, there isn’t a series that doesn’t even come close to the very loathsome Elementary.

To the best of yours truly’s knowledge, the last time CBS aired a single-cam comedy was Worst Week during the 2008-09 season, lasting only sixteen episodes. This time, CBS has two of them – one is We Are Men, which probably won’t be around long. The other is Crazy Ones, but a sitcom with two big names returning to the small screen doesn’t guarantee the audience would flee through the entrances. Still, CBS has a two-hour Thursday night comedy block for the first time ever in the three-hour primetime schedule era (dating back to 1971.) To make room, Person moves to Tuesdays, where it could take a ratings hit.

Meanwhile, CBS is going the limited-series route with Hostages, airing for only fifyteen episodes, where afterward, it’ll be replaced by Intelligence (not related to the 2005-07 CBC drama, which starred Max Headroom’s Matt Frewer and DaVinci’s Inquest’s Ian Tracey.) This is actually a good, unconventional move for them.

Back to Mondays… Moms is difficult to handicap here, don’t know what to expect until I see the trailer. Reviewers said Millers was full of fart and masturbation jokes – you sure Seth MacFarlane also isn’t behind this show?

Hawaii Five-O moves to Fridays for its fourth season, which may not be a good fit with older-skewing Blue Bloods. But this time slot may not be bad.

Overall, a good schedule from CBS, despite the presence of Elementary. (All right, all right, I’ll stop bashing the show now.) Even though they won’t be as powerful as they were this past season, they still have the Grammys, AFC Championship Game, and the NCAA Basketball Championship – not to mention Big Bang, 60 Minutes, Survivor, and Amazing Race. The Church Of Tisch is still the one to beat.