“Stability where we are strong and change where we need it was our goal,” said Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, at a Wednesday morning press conference to announce the network’s primetime programming plans for 2018-19.
This fall, CBS will feature five new shows, sitcoms The Neighborhood and Happy Together; dramas FBI from Dick Wolf, God Friended, and a reboot of Magnum PI. The network also is bringing back Murphy Brown, featuring Candice Bergen reprising her iconic role. The changes impact four nights of the week with Wednesday, Friday and Sunday unchanged.
Three additional series — dramas The Code and The Red Line and sitcom Fam — are slated for midseason, bringing the total new series tally to eight in 2018-19.
“When you have a primetime lineup that won the season while competing against the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics on another network, you look to keep your core schedule mostly intact, while making strategic moves to help grow nights,” said Kahl.
“We’ve maintained stability across winning nights, while adding some important new pieces to our Monday night lineup. And, next year, we’re positioned to build on this success with the addition of these exciting new shows and primetime events, such as The AFC Championship Game, Super Bowl LIII, The Grammy Awards and the NCAA Final Four.”
Focusing on Monday, CBS trimmed its traditional two-hour comedy block to 8-9 p.m., where new comedies The Neighborhood and Happy Together will anchor the evening.
Next will be the new Magnum, PI, followed by Bull, which heads into season three and shifts from Tuesday at 9 p.m. to Monday at 10 p.m.
Inheriting Bull’s protected Tuesday NCIS lead-out spot is FBI, arguably the most potentially advantageous new time period for any new CBS series. Sunday at 8 p.m. out of granddaddy 60 Minutes will feature new drama God Friended.
The return of Murphy Brown, meanwhile, will air out of Mom and into sophomore S.W.A.T. in the Thursday 9:30 p.m. half-hour.
Returning on CBS in midseason in are sitcoms Life in Pieces and Man With a Plan, dramas Elementary and Instinct and reality/competitions The Amazing Race and Celebrity Big Brother. Not making the cut were comedies Kevin Can Wait, Superior Donuts and Living Biblically, and drama Scorpion.
“Our goal is to make CBS’ big tent even bigger with a broad range of storytelling that speaks to our loyal core audience while opening doors for new viewers too,” said Thom Sherman, senior executive vice President, programming, CBS Entertainment. “We think we’ve accomplished that with this slate of new shows. This new programming has inspired stories from CBS’ iconic past; unique concepts from both new creative voices and established hit-makers; big stars and fresh on-screen talent; and programming that is inclusive, both in front of and behind the camera.”
Given the virtual collapse of Monday this season, CBS’ programming emphasis was expected to be on repairing the evening. Anchoring the night with two new and unproven comedies is a risk.
Traditionally, the best-laid plans are to schedule a new comedy out of something already proven. But the network needed to be aggressive, and the familiarity of the Magnum PI brand immediately following the 8-9 comedy block could be both beneficial and serve as counter-programming to Dancing With the Stars on ABC and The Voice on NBC. With Bull capping off the night, there is really only one place to go: up.
Newbie FBI on Tuesday, no doubt, is can’t miss (and a nod to Dick Wolf, with whom the network wants to build a future relationship), and Murphy Brown out of Mom on Thursday should be a compatible fit. There is also every reason to believe mainstays such as the NCIS franchise, Survivor, The Big Bang Theory and Blue Bloods will continue to carry the network. With or without Super Bowl LII, CBS is still the network to beat in total viewers.
Of course, no schedule is perfect. Drama returnees such as SEAL Team and S.W.A.T. are not the necessarily the hits the network was hoping for. Criminal Minds needs to end. Ignoring Saturday is a wasted potential opportunity. And CBS’ position as the oldest-skewing broadcast network is not about to change anytime soon.
But since the network understands who its audience is, keeping crime on the forefront with a mixture of new comedies, Survivor and 60 Minutes remains the right strategy.
What follows is the primetime line-up for CBS this fall (with new shows in caps with an asterisk):
8:00 p.m. THE NEIGHBORHOOD*
8:30 p.m. HAPPY TOGETHER*
9:00 p.m. MAGNUM, PI*
10:00 pm. Bull
8:00 p.m. NCIS
9:00 p.m. FBI*
10:00 pm. NCIS: New Orleans
8:00 p.m. Survivor
9:00 p.m. SEAL Team
10:00 pm. Criminal Minds
8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory
8:30 p.m. Young Sheldon
9:00 p.m. Mom
9:30 p.m. MURPHY BROWN (return)
10:00 pm. S.W.A.T.
8:00 p.m. MacGyver
9:00 p.m. Hawaii Five-O
10:00 pm. Blue Bloods
8:00 p.m. Crimetime Primetime (drama encores)
9:00 p.m. Crimetime Primetime (drama encores)
10:00 pm. 48 Hours
7:00 p.m. 60 Minutes
8:00 p.m. GOD FRIENDED*
9:00 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00 pm. Madam Secretary
New Program Descriptions
The Code is a drama about the military’s brightest minds who take on our country’s toughest legal challenges, inside the courtroom and out, in the only law office in the world where every attorney is trained as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer, an investigator – and a Marine. Operating out of Judge Advocate General Headquarters in Quantico, these active-duty Marines are attorneys who have chosen to serve their country in pursuit of military justice at home and abroad. Craig Sweeny, Marc Webb, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman and Craig Turk are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. Webb directed the pilot from a teleplay by Sweeny, and story by Sweeny and Turk.
The Code stars Anna Wood as Major Maya Dobbins, Ato Essandoh as Major Trey Ferry, Phillipa Soo as Lt. Harper Rein and Raffi Barsoumian as Warrant Officer Rami Ahmadi.
From Emmy Award-winner Dick Wolf and the team behind the Law & Order franchise, FBI is a fast-paced drama about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These first-class agents bring their talents, intellect and technical expertise to investigate important cases — including terrorism, organized crime and counterintelligence — in order to keep New York and the country safe.
Craig Turk, Dick Wolf, Arthur W. Forney, Peter Jankowski and Niels Arden Oplev (pilot only) are executive producers for Universal Television in association with CBS Television Studios. Oplev directed the pilot from a story by Wolf and Turk, and a script by Turk.
FBI stars Missy Peregrym as Maggie Bell, Zeeko Zaki as Omar Adom “OA” Zidan, Jeremy Sisto as Jubal Valentine, and Ebonée Noel as Kristen Chazal.
God Friended Me
God Friended Me stars Brandon Micheal Hall in this uplifting drama about Miles Finer (Hall), an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him. After repeated pokes by God, Miles’ curiosity takes over, and he accepts the ultimate friend request and follows the signs to Cara Bloom (Violett Beane), an online journalist. Brought together by the “God Account,” the two find themselves investigating God’s friend suggestions and inadvertently helping others in need. Miles is set on getting to the bottom of what he believes is an elaborate hoax, but in the meantime he’ll play along and, in the process, change his life forever.
Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Marcos Siega are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. Siega directed the pilot from a script by Lilien & Wynbrandt.
God Friended Me stars Brandon Micheal Hall as Miles Finer, Violett Beane as Cara Bloom, Suraj Sharma as Rakesh Singh, Javicia Leslie as Ali Finer and Joe Morton as Reverend Arthur Finer.
Magnum P.I. is a modern take on the classic series starring Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. A charming rogue, an American hero and a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum has Juliet Higgins and her Dobermans to keep him in line, as well as his trusted buddies and fellow POW survivors TC and Rick when he needs back-up on a job. With keys to a vintage Ferrari in one hand, aviator sunglasses in the other, and an Old Düsseldorf longneck chilling in the fridge, Thomas Magnum is back on the case!
Peter Lenkov, Eric Guggenheim, Justin Lin, John Davis, John Fox and Danielle Woodrow are executive producers for CBS Television Studios in association with Universal Television. Lin directed the pilot from a script by Lenkov and Guggenheim.
Magnum P.I. stars Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins, Zachary Knighton as Orville “Rick” Wright and Stephen Hill as Theodore “TC” Calvin.
The Red Line
From acclaimed producers Ava DuVernay and Greg Berlanti, The Red Line is a drama that follows the lives of three vastly different Chicago families whose stories of loss and tragedy intersect in the wake of the mistaken shooting of an African-American doctor by a white cop. As the stories of the Calder, Young and Evans families crisscross and converge, a message of hope appears – it’s possible to emerge from tragedy stronger, and it’s important to come together with others, not just to survive, but to thrive.
DuVernay, Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are executive producers, and Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss are co-executive producers for Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. Victoria Mahoney directed the pilot from a script by Parrish and Weiss.
The Red Line stars Noah Wyle as Daniel Calder, Emayatzy Corinealdi as Tia Young, Aliyah Royale as Jira Calder-Brennan, Noel Fisher as Paul Evans, Howard Charles as Ethan Young, Elizabeth Laidlaw as Vic Renna, Vinny Chhibber as Liam Bhatt and Michael Patrick Thornton as Jim Evans.
Fam stars Nina Dobrev and Tone Bell in a comedy about a woman whose vision of a perfect life with her adoring fiancé and his wonderful parents is radically altered when her 16-year-old, out-of-control half-sister unexpectedly comes to live with her. As the family Clem (Dobrev) chose and the family she has blend, Clem realizes that this new happy fam may be the perfection she’s always been seeking.
Corinne Kingsbury, Bob Kushell, Aaron Kaplan, Wendi Trilling, Dana Honor and Scott Ellis (pilot only) are executive producers for CBS Television Studios in association with Kapital Entertainment. Ellis directed the pilot from a script by Kingsbury.
Fam stars Nina Dobrev as Clem, Tone Bell as Nick, Odessa Adlon as Shannon, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Walt and Sheryl Lee Ralph as Rose.
Happy Together stars Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West in a comedy about a 30-something happily married couple who begin to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves when Cooper (Felix Mallard), an exuberant young pop star drawn to their super-ordinary suburban life, unexpectedly moves in with them.
Austen Earl, Tim McAuliffe, Ben Winston, Harry Styles, Michael Rotenberg and Jonathan Berry are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. Phill Lewis directed the pilot from a script by McAuliffe and Earl.
Happy Together stars Damon Wayans Jr. as Jake, Amber Stevens West as Claire, Felix Mallard as Cooper James, Stephanie Weir as Bonnie and Chris Parnell as Wayne.
The Neighborhood stars Cedric the Entertainer as an opinionated neighbor in a comedy about what happens when the friendliest guy in the Midwest moves his family to a neighborhood in Los Angeles where not everyone looks like him or appreciates his extreme neighborliness. When Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield) and his family arrive from Michigan, they’re unfazed that their new dream home is located in a community quite different from their small town. However, their opinionated next-door neighbor, Calvin Butler (Cedric the Entertainer), is wary of the newcomers, certain that they’ll disrupt the culture on the block. Dave realizes that fitting into their new community is more complex than he expected, but if he can find a way to connect with Calvin, they have an excellent chance of making their new neighborhood their home.
Jim Reynolds, Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor (Kapital Entertainment), Wendi Trilling, Cedric the Entertainer, Eric Rhone and James Burrows (pilot) are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. Burrows directed the pilot from a script by Reynolds.
The Neighborhood stars Cedric the Entertainer as Calvin, Max Greenfield as Dave, Sheaun McKinney as Malcolm, Tichina Arnold as Tina, Dreama Walker as Gemma, Marcel Spears as Marty and Hank Greenspan as Grover.
[Images courtesy of CBS]