NYC Upfronts: CBS

MiC guest blogger Helena Shelton of PHD shares the low-down on the CBS upfront presentation: A better economy means five new shows - including a remake of Hawaii Five-O - and some 'bold schedule moves.'

The weather was much improved as we arrived at Carnegie Hall for the CBS presentation. My fellow upfront attendant and I were swept up by the crowds and ended up seated at the uppermost level, we were actually winded by the time we reached our seats. The theatre was packed and the crowd was ready to hear what the Fall 2010 plan was for CBS.

Right from the start this presentation was polished and all the jokes well-rehearsed. The production began with a little ditty about CBS being number one, accompanied by clips and great moments from all their shows (which always makes me a little bit emotional). CBS CEO Leslie Moonves addressed the recovering economy and the improvements to the auto, pharma and retail sectors in advertising. CBS also talked about the strength of TV and ran a ditty featuring their head of research calling out false TV research reporting. The message was clear: CBS was number one, and TV was the number-one medium. All the stars of the new shows were seated near the stage along with stars from returning shows like Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife.

CBS announced some ‘bold schedule moves’ and only introduced five new shows. Their most successful comedy Big Bang Theory moves from Monday to Thursday and Survivor moves from Thursday to Wednesday.

Their first new show on Monday night is Mike & Molly starring comedian and actor Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls) as an overweight cop and an overweight teacher who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting and begin dating; I will refrain from any further jokes on this. The crowd appeared to love this and to be honest so did my companion and I.

Next on Monday is a remake of Hawaii Five-0 starring Alex O’Loughlin (The Backup Plan) as Steve McGarrett, head of an elite task force wiping out crime. This is pretty much the same as the original, they even have the same music slightly updated, more heavy rock’n'roll sounding. Again the crowd responded enthusiastically, although we were less enthusiastic.

Wednesday features The Defenders, another law show, this one is in Las Vegas and stars Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan) as two defense attorneys trying to make it big.

Thursday was $#*! My Dad Says, a comedy starring William Shatner as a father who says whatever comes into his head (based on a real Twitter phenom). The clips we saw were very funny, Shatner delivers his lines straight faced and full of sarcasm, although we questioned the ability of keeping this premise fresh.

The last new show presented, Blue Bloods, will air Friday nights. CBS’s newest cop show (from the directors of The Sopranos) stars Tom Selleck as the head of a family of New York City cops. The clip looked good, well-produced, good writing and acting – but its Friday night time slot could be a killer.

That was a wrap, in one hour it was over, all the stars and ad execs were leaving for the after party at the Lincoln Centre. My companion and I began our long trek down from our high seats to the street below. We both felt CBS was conservative and we agreed that in a few days we had seen so many cop show clips they were all starting to blend into one long scary shooting scene. Maybe it was the fact that this presentation was slick, but we felt there was not much ‘new’ out there, as my colleague pointed out, ‘it feels formulaic.’ One more to go, the CW on Thursday morning.