Last year, I did a series of "Upfront Questions" posts during the pre-upfront week, and I used those questions plus the revealed schedules for "Upfront Answers" during upfront week. I liked that format, so I'm gonna try generally the same thing this year.
This network's upfront happens just one week from today!
Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | The CW | General
For another reference, see the April CBS True Power Rankings.
8:00 - How I Met Your Mother
8:30 - 2 Broke Girls
9:00 - Two and a Half Men
9:30 - Mike and Molly
10:00 - Hawaii Five-0
Question: Which sitcom moves?
As I've said before, I think this is one of the most interesting questions of the whole upfront week, because I believe there are legitimate arguments for and against every single one of the four shows going to Thursday. I don't want to regurgitate all that, but you can go back and read the Power Rankings.
I do want to add one more little facet to the discussion: CBS' precedent in this situation. At the 2008 upfront, as in 2012, CBS had three seemingly clearly anchor-worthy sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men) airing in two hours. So the next fall, they added an hour. Which returning anchor got moved? None of the above. Instead they moved the more marginal The New Adventures of Old Christine, endured two low-rated years of Christine and Gary Unmarried, then moved The Big Bang Theory to Thursday the next year.
There are a lot of different variables, but it's the same bare bones situation: x anchors (including one first-year show) in x - 1 hours. I'd look at this 2012 decision as something of a referendum on the 2008 one. Yes, they got crap ratings with Christine and Gary, but they also kept their two established Monday shows in place and were able to nurture the new show (The Big Bang Theory) for bigger and much better things down the line. Was that worth it in the end? If so, we just might see a Mike and Molly move to Thursday, while CBS protects Monday against the heavy competish and prepares 2 Broke Girls to rule Monday. That's what I would do. If not, well... anything else is possible!
8:00 - NCIS
9:00 - NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00 - Unforgettable
Question: What's the verdict on NCIS: LA?
As I said last year, NCIS and its spin-off comprise one of those "good-not-great" pairings that we amateur schedulers are always determined to rip apart, but it never happens as much as we'd like. I wouldn't mind seeing LA on Sunday paired back up with its former Tuesday teammate The Good Wife. The more realistic possibility is that it goes to 10:00 while... something else goes to 9:00. Ultimately, it depends on what that something else is. CBS will move NCIS: LA if they feel they have a good reason to do so, and last fall's Unforgettable was not good enough.
8:00 - Survivor
9:00 - Criminal Minds
10:00 - CSI
Question: It ain't broke, but does CBS fix it?
I'm pretty sure Survivor and Criminal Minds are staying put, but I do consider CSI original a candidate to end up back on Friday. The good spots for new shows are just that limited.
8:00 - The Big Bang Theory
8:30 - How to Be a Gentleman / Rules of Engagement / Rob
9:00 - Person of Interest
10:00 - The Mentalist
Question: Which hour does The Big Bang Theory lead off?
It's enticing to imagine the possibilities if The Big Bang Theory goes to higher-viewed 9:00. Could a situation comedy consistently hit a 6.0 Live + SD rating? It'd be kinda awesome. But is that move the given that many assume? I don't think so. For me, it's dependent on which returning show joins the night. If it's one of the super-established Monday shows (HIMYM or Two and a Half Men), then I like BBT for 9/8c. But if they move something that's a little bit more of a question mark (either 2 Broke Girls or Mike and Molly), I'd rather put that show at 9/8c to give it the best possible chance with higher viewing levels and a comedy lead-in. Maximizing the ratings of TBBT is nice, but I don't think they should throw the other hour to the wolves just to make that happen.
8:00 - A Gifted Man / Undercover Boss
9:00 - CSI: NY / A Gifted Man
10:00 - Blue Bloods
Question: Has the late-season Undercover Boss decline opened up a slot?
For the last few Power Rankings, I've advocated killing both CSI spin-offs. Admittedly the recent plight of Undercover Boss is getting me to rethink that. Maybe a shortened season to share a slot with something (a Friday show or The Amazing Race) is the better plan for the Boss. How many interesting corporations does this show have left to feature, anyway? I'm starting to think they need to go with a CSI spin-off, a second-tier returning drama and Blue Bloods on Friday.
Side note: I do strongly believe CBS should push something that appears to be doing well to this night and give the new dramas a better chance on weeknights. Blue Bloods just happened to be an absolute perfect fit for Friday, but in general I don't like the growing CBS tendency to throw new shows on Friday. Continuing the three-new-dramas tradition without one on Friday would take pretty drastic measures, though: cancel both CSI spin-offs and move two of CSI, The Mentalist and The Good Wife to Friday.
7:00 - 60 Minutes
8:00 - The Amazing Race
9:00 - The Good Wife
10:00 - CSI: Miami / NYC 22
Question: How serious is CBS about Sunday 18-49 competitiveness?
I've wondered for much of the season if CBS will end up "trying" harder on Friday than on overrun-riddled Sunday. If they move something like The Mentalist or NCIS: LA over to Sunday and get The Good Wife off the night, we'll know they're serious about Sunday. But my wild guess is they will shove The Good Wife up to the 10/9c hour, put some new drama at 9/8c that they think has potential for some critical favor (perhaps the Western?), and try to push the high-income angle for this evening. The only thing that makes me think they may get more aggressive is the fact that ABC is also such a question mark on Sunday next fall.