Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall TV Preview: CBS

CBS 2012 Fall Schedule

CBS is in a good place this season, especially with two successful nights of comedy working alongside their usual stable of police procedurals and a couple of stalwart competition shows.  We all recall how Thursday was wrested away from NBC dominance several seasons ago after the bold seeding of the night with the move of The Big Bang Theory from Monday.  This year Two and a Half Men follows, possible primarily because the CBS Monday night line-up remains very strong in part thanks to the unexpectedly solid performance from the returning 2 Broke Girls.

8:30pm Monday nights sees the introduction of a new comedy into the line-up, the creation of real-life writer/producer best friends David Kohan and Matt Mutchnick (best known for Will & Grace).  The Partners plot mirrors Kohan and Mutchnick's own life, centering around the longstanding "bromance" of two guys (who are also business partners), one straight and one gay, and what happens when each of them falls in love.  David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) stars as the straight friend, and his fiancee is played by Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill, John Tucker Must Die).  Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) is paired onscreen with Brandon Routh (Superman Returns).  If Kohan and Mutchnick can do as well with Partners as they did with the still hilarious-in-reruns Will & Grace, this one could be another notch on CBS' Monday comedy belt.  It's in a crucial timeslot, and the continuing success of 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly somewhat depends on Partners coming out strong.  Partners premieres Monday, 9/24.

Tuesday nights at 10pm will be the home of Vegas, yet another series revolving around the legendary gambling mecca and with an exceptional cast that could make this one a sure bet.  Set in the wild and woolly 1960s heyday of the city when gangsters ruled the casinos and laws were made to be broken, Vegas brings the incredibly talented Michael Chiklis (The Shield, The Commish, Fantastic Four) back to TV, and it doesn't get any better than that.  If Chiklis weren't enough incentive, Vegas also stars the always-interesting Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven, The Day After Tomorrow, The Parent Trap, Great Balls of Fire!) in his first TV series role.  The intriguing, lovely and talented Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix trilogy, Memento) co-stars as a dedicated District Attorney, along with Jason O'Mara (Terra Nova, Band of Brothers, Life on Mars) and Taylor Handley (Jack Frost) as Quaid's brother and son.  Quaid is a local rancher who's drafted to become a lawman, and Chiklis is his mobster nemesis who's determined to do things his way.  I think this one is a winner based on the cast alone, but the mixture of neon and sagebrush sounds like a combo that will keep the action coming and offer up involving characterizations.  Vegas premieres Tuesday, 9/25 at 10pm.

Thursday nights at 10pm brings Elementary, the newest twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes. This time Sherlock is a high-living ace detective from London, now disgraced, who leaves London to find sobriety in New York.  He finds himself paired with Dr. Watson, a surgeon who lost a patient and her medical license but turns out to be a perfect companion for the broken but brilliant Holmes as he tries rehab.  Sherlock is played by authentic Brit actor Jonny Lee Miller (the charismatic cult leader from Dexter a couple of seasons back, Eli Stone, and he's a former Mr. Angelina Jolie).  Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal, the Charlie's Angels movies) is the flawed but indispensable Watson.  The talented Aidan Quinn (An Early Frost, Benny and Joon) co-stars as the New York police captain who's worked with Sherlock before and knows both his expertise and his eccentricities.  Everybody knows Sherlock Holmes, including viewers who recently fell in love with PBS' presentation of the newest British incarnation of the characters as played by Benedict Cumberbatch (with whom Miller recently did an acclaimed role-sharing stage version of Frankenstein) and Martin Freeman, the star of the upcoming The Hobbit.  We deduce there's more than enough room for more than a few Sherlocks and Watsons, and Elementary should be a success for CBS, especially capping off a strong Thursday line-up.  Premieres Thursday, 9/27 at 10pm.

CBS' Friday 9pm new entry Made in Jersey is one of the shows not getting a lot of love in early reviews, maybe due to the feels-like-we've-seen-this-already-even-if-we-haven't premise and maybe also a general indifference to anything with "Jersey" in the title after MTV's over-exposed Jersey Shore. In any case, Made in Jersey is the tale of a sassy young woman lawyer from a big Italian family who ends up working at a swank NYC law firm.  Cultures clash, tempers flare, but at least she can go home to some good lasagna, right?  British actress Janet Montgomery (Skins, Black Swan) stars as the plucky heroine, and her fellow law office colleagues include the terrific Kyle McLachlan (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune), Kristoffer Polaha (America's Prince as JFK, Jr.), Megalyn Echikunwoke (The 4400, 24, Creature, Like Family), Toni Trucks (the Twilight movies, Barbershop), and Felix Solis (The Good Wife, Arbitrage). (Donna Murphy (Broadway's Passion, Star Trek: Insurrection) was in the pilot but it doesn't look she's a regular). Viewers who are hooked on lead-in CSI: New York and lead-out Blue Bloods will probably want to stay with Made in Jersey and its version of crime-centric drama, and they won't even have to change the channel.  On the other hand, there are several interesting if not exactly super-strong alternatives -- Grimm, Fringe, Nikita -- on the other nets at the same time and they're only a click away.  Premieres Friday 9/28 at pm.

Next up -- ABC, the network with the new drama that's making all the "gotta watch" lists.  We'll see!

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