In the TV business, having the most-watched network means having the least-broken schedule. And in TV, as in life, the simple rule is that if it ain't all that broke, don't fix it all that much.
CBS, the top-rated U.S. network for several years, unveiled a fall lineup that includes just five new titles -- four comedies and one drama -- and new time-slot homes for three of its returning series. Twenty of the network's prime-time shows have been renewed for the coming season.
During the announcement of its 2013-14 schedule, which took place Wednesday in New York, CBS also introduced three other new shows -- two dramas and a comedy -- that will be added at mid-season.
The biggest change for CBS takes place on Mondays, when three newcomers will be added -- We Are Men, a comedy about four single guys of various ages (including characters played by Tony Shaloub and Jerry O'Connell) who live in the same apartment complex and support each other through their various romantic misadventures; Mom, a sitcom produced by Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly) which focuses on a newly sober single mom (Anna Faris) trying to restart her life while avoiding the temptations of Napa Valley; and Hostages, a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama about a successful surgeon (Toni Collette) whose family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott) with an unexpected political agenda.
CBS's other two new comedies will arrive on Thursday night, where they'll be bookended by returning hits The Big Bang Theory and the relocated Two and a Half Men. The Millers stars Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Up All Night) as a recently divorced TV-news reporter whose effort to get back on his feet is derailed by his parents' (Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale) announcement that they're getting divorced, too. The Crazy Ones, CBS's most-talked-about rookie offering, brings Robin Williams back to prime time in the role of a brilliant but idiosyncratic advertising executive whose erratic behaviour drives his partner/daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and his clients around the bend.
Slated for mid-season arrival are Intelligence, a spy-themed thriller about an intelligence operative (Lost alumnus Josh Holloway) with a super-computer microchip implanted in his brain; Reckless, a legal drama about a Chicago-trained lawyer who relocates to South Carolina and goes toe to toe with the good ol' boys who dominate the legal system there; and Friends With Better Lives, a comedy about six friends in various stages of life -- single, engaged, married, divorced -- who are outwardly happy but all secretly wonder if their friends have it better than they do.
In addition to its move of Two and a Half Men to Thursday, CBS will also shift returning drama Person of Interest to Tuesday, where it will follow the ratings-juggernaut pairing of NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. Hawaii Five-0 will have a new home on Friday night.
CBS's long list of returning shows this fall also includes How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Survivor, Criminal Minds, C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, Elementary, Undercover Boss, Blue Bloods, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, The Good Wife and The Mentalist.
The veteran sitcom Mike & Molly will be kept on the shelf until mid-season.
Not returning to the CBS lineup this fall are CSI: New York, Vegas, Golden Boy, Rules of Engagement, The Job and Partners.
CBS's Saturday-night schedule, which has been filled with crime-show reruns for the past decade, will be lightened by the addition of an hour of comedy repeats this fall.
email@example.com Twitter: @BradOswald