May 03, 2005

TV: playing network programmer (CBS edition)

CBS sits comfortably at the top of the heap, fighting it out for first with FOX, and they don't need a lot of new shows. Last year, they only introduced three hours of new programming, and none of it worked terribly well; only Listen Up is still on the air, and its chances of coming back next year are iffy.

They are losing a couple of key players this year, though. Everyone Loves Raymond will be gone (and I will be immensely grateful), and JAG finishes up a quiet ten-year run. Generally thought to be at risk of cancellation, in addition to Listen Up, are Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy, Still Standing, and Yes, Dear.

At the moment, the schedule looks like this:

7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Cold Case
9:00 Movie
8:00 Still Standing
8:30 Listen Up
9:00 Everyone Loves Raymond
9:30 Two and a Half Men
10:00 CSI: MIami
8:00 NCIS

9:00 The Amazing Race
10:00 Judging Amy
8:00 60 Minutes
9:00 King of Queens
9:30 Yes, Dear
10:00 CSI: New York
8:00 Survivor
9:00 CSI
10:00 Without a Trace
8:00 Joan of Arcadia
9:00 JAG
10:00 Numb3rs
8:00 movies/specials/reruns

Those Wednesday sitcoms seem so out of place sandwiched between 60 Minutes and CSI:NY. Let's move K of Q back to Monday night, and hope that it and Two and a Half Men can provide enough support to build a new night of sitcoms (King at 8, Men at 9, new shows on the half hours).

What to do Wednesday at 9? It's a tough time slot -- Alias and The West Wing both had ratings comebacks this year, and the American Idol results show gets a huge audience. But I think Judging Amy would do reasonably well there; easier to get an audience in a competitive time slot for a show that already has an audience than for something brand new.

I'd keep Joan, too, in its Friday night slot, and try a pair of new dramas at 9 and 10, probably with strong female leads. A female-oriented lineup would be good counterprogramming against ABC's tiring sitcoms and NBC's crime shows.

Numb3rs moves into the old Amy slot on Tuesday nights; it's a better fit with the rest of the night than Amy was. I'm tempted to swap NCIS and The Amazing Race; it seems a shame for Race, which is such a fun show for families to watch together, to be on later than 8; it would probably lose a lot more of its audience to American Idol, though, than NCIS does, so let's leave those two alone.

In summary: Joan and Amy survive; Listen and Standing don't. Two new sitcoms on Monday, two new dramas on Friday, and a little juggling of current shows into new timeslots.

Tomorrow: NBC.

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