First impressions: CBS does what CBS does
CBS executives talked a lot Wednesday about how stable their schedule is and how nearly all the network's new shows will have established hits around them. And with good reason -- the network is very good at designing a schedule that gives its shows a good chance to succeed.
The crop of newbies on the network next season doesn't take any big swings, with a spinoff of one of its most popular shows ("NCIS: Los Angeles"), two shows with well-known stars ("Accidentally on Purpose" with Jenna Elfman and "The Good Wife" with Julianna Margulies) and one featuring a lead actor with an adoring fan base ("Three Rivers" with Alex O'Loughlin).
It's not especially sexy, but it will probably be effective. Here's a rundown of the four fall shows and two midseason series CBS previewed Wednesday.
"Accidentally on Purpose" (watch a clip)
Elfman is a very watchable actress, and she seems to have decent chemistry with Jon Foster as the younger guy with whom a one-night stand results in a pregnancy. His slacker buddies, though, look more like than ill-conceived attempts to draw a younger audience than actual characters. I also kind of wonder what might happen after the baby arrives.
"The Good Wife" (watch a clip)
It's got a really intriguing premise: The wife (Margulies) of a scandal-ridden politician (Chris Noth) restarts her long-dormant professional life after he's sent to prison. Margulies can convey a lot of emotion with just a look, and it serves her well here. But based on the trailer we saw, the show might be served better if those emotions were a little more raw. Still curious to see the full pilot.
"NCIS: Los Angeles" (watch a clip)
Fans of the original "NCIS" already have an idea what to expect from this show thanks to the two-part spinoff setup that aired a few weeks ago. Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J are your two leads, and they had a pretty fair amount of buddy-cop chemistry in the setup. If they can keep it up, that will go a long way toward making the new show a success.
"Three Rivers" (watch a clip)
O'Loughlin fans are excited to have their guy back on TV, but the show CBS has placed him in looks almost painfully earnest. Perhaps the full pilot will play better -- and exhibit a sense of humor -- but the trailer was designed to make sure you knew how dedicated, caring and generally awesome the doctors at a transplant center in Pittsburgh are. It might as well have put halos around their heads.
(CBS also has two other midseason shows, a medical drama called "Miami Trauma" and the reality show "Arranged Marriage," but didn't show any footage to the audience Wednesday.)
This Canadian import stars "Battlestar Galactica's" Aaron Douglas as a beat cop who becomes head of the union for his fellow officers and takes on all the burdens that entails. Douglas shows a ton of charisma in the role, and it's a slightly different take on the typical cop show that could make it worth checking out.
CEOs and other top-level executives come out of the corner office and work with rank-and-file employees of their companies in this reality show. It's a good concept for the times -- the bosses' eyes are invariably opened to the issues facing their workers -- and will undoubtedly end up being pretty good PR for the companies that take part.