Here's Variety ratings guru Rick Kissell's take on CBS's new schedule:
This figured to be a season of change at the normally stable CBS, and that proved to be the case: Five new programs (nothing odd there), but another five that are also changing timeslots. And it could have been even more if the considered slot flop of "CSI" and "The Mentalist" materialized.
The biggest moves ("Survivor" to Wednesday and "The Big Bang Theory" to Thursday) seem to suggest that the net believes "Survivor" is heading into its final year or two and that it has the goods in comedy to not only plant its flag on Thursday with "Bang," but perhaps establish a four-comedy block there in the near future.
Looking at the nights, Monday is a bit risky given that "How I Met Your Mother" and "Rules of Engagement" are both only so-so performers and are probably heading into their final couple of seasons. And although the likable "Mike and Molly" could blossom into a hit at 9:30, it seems like veteran 9 p.m. anchor "Two and a Half Men" will be asked to prop up the comedy block this season.
After being initially skeptical about "Hawaii Five-O," the early clips and still photos — along with its hospitable Monday 10 p.m. timeslot — make me more bullish about its chances. It also helps that in "CSI: Miami," CBS auds were already watching a similar kind of program in the timeslot, and they may look at "Hawaii" (with its scenic locale and pretty people) as simply a fresher take of the same show.
On Tuesday, the "NCIS" duo staying put was a no-brainer, but retaining "The Good Wife" at 10 was something of a surprise; in the end, it probably came down to wanting to keep a night of programming intact. Also, while "Good Wife" has fallen off in the ratings this spring and is mismatched with its more male-skewing lead-in, the competing dramas on ABC (new "Detroit 187") and NBC ("Parenthood") aren't powerhouses.
Wednesday is one of a few nights with the potential for growth for CBS. "Survivor" — strong numbers for its just-concluded all-stars edition notwithstanding — is slowly running out of gas, and its move to a new night will only accelerate its declines.
Still, it's the right time to move the show since it will perform better than the net's comedies of last season (and could put another timeslot win in the net's column). "Criminal Minds" should again fare well at 9, and then there's "The Defenders" — the net seems high on this show, but its premise and casting seems like it would be better suited for ABC. Still, a winning lead-in and two serious law/crime shows airing opposite it could work in its favor.
"Big Bang" should have no problem winning its new 8 o'clock half-hour on Thursday, although comedy competition from "Community" will drag it down some; and "Bleep My Dad Says" seems well-positioned between "Bang" and the older-skewing "CSI." (I'd probably be more enthusiastic about "Bleep" if William Shatner wasn't the lead). Add in "CSI" and "The Mentalist," and the Eye could see slight gains on Thursday, but more importantly now has several youngish pieces on the night.
Another possible reason for the comedy move by CBS is that unlike on Wednesday, where ABC's formidable "Modern Family" appears poised for a lengthy run in the 9 o'clock slot, the competition isn't as tough on Thursday, where NBC's 9 o'clock anchor "The Office" is aging and the Peacock hasn't shown any signs that it has anything else that can fare nearly as well.
I've never been a fan of New York crime stories, but Friday newbie "True Bloods" could change that; the show is well cast, looks great and will benefit from a compatible lead-in from the transplanted "CSI: NY." It also won't face much competition at 10 opposite NBC's "Outlaw" and ABC's "20/20." As for "Medium," well something had to lead off the night.
Sunday's lineup may be the Eye's strongest in more than a decade, with the "Amazing Race"-"Undercover Boss" pairing to benefit from football promotion. I also like "CSI: Miami as a 10 p.m. show that should pick up football fans flipping over during half-time of the NFL primetime game on NBC.
But for the love of all that's holy, CBS, won't you please do something about the football overruns causing shows to start at such unusual times in most of the country; every other net figured this out years ago, and would never let one of its top entertainment series start late due to sports. It's time that "60 Minutes" either go live and produce a show that fits a certain time allotment (maybe expanded to 90 minutes some nights when "Race" doesn't air or trimmed to 40 minutes on others so "Race" can start right at 8). Any attempt to get the trains running on time will be especially helpful this fall as the 9-11 p.m. block is especially strong. Just try something!
One other thought: There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the numerous bubble shows that CBS canceled, but it made the right choices in each case. I would, however, suggest that the net consider occasional two-hour movies of "Cold Case," whose emotional storylines and impressive use of music would be both promotable and might land some big-name thesps.
Overall, it looks like Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday could be gainers for CBS, whose schedule once again makes more sense than its rivals.