In the high-stakes game of draw poker that is network programming, CBS, more than anyone else, has a habit of holding on to its cards.
Of course, that's easier when you're in first place and your schedule is adorned with imperishables like 60 Minutes, NCIS, and Two and a Half Men.
At its upfront presentation Wednesday afternoon at Carnegie Hall, CBS kept its lineup singularly stable, returning 20 series. Five new shows were announced for fall, including four sitcoms. And the network has fashioned a Nielsen Murderer's Row on Tuesday night with NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles leading into Person of Interest.
Here are descriptions of CBS's newbies:
We Are Men is a comedy about four guys living in a short-term apartment building, a casualty ward for the brokenhearted and divorced. The youngest of the bunch (Chris Smith, of Paranormal Activity 3) didn't even get as far as his honeymoon. He is the recipient of lots of specious poolside advice from Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Jerry O'Connell (The Defenders), and Kal Penn (House). Hmm, sounds remarkably similar to Jonathan Tropper's fabulous novel, One Last Thing Before I Go.
Mom is yet another project from ubiquitous producer Chuck Lorre, who tosses off hit sitcoms like a golden retriever sheds fur. Anna Faris (What's Your Number?) stars as a single mother of two teens who is trying hard to make her disastrously messy life neater. Her patience (and newfound sobriety) is tested by her critical mom (Allison Janney, of Mr. Sunshine). With Nate Corddry and French Stewart.
In Hostages, a 15-episode thriller, Toni Collette (United States of Tara) is a surgeon whose husband (Damages' Tate Donovan) and kids are being held by a turncoat FBI agent (Dylan McDermott, of American Horror Story) and his henchmen until she does his bidding. Wait, didn't we already see this on The Mob Doctor?
The Millers is a comedy starring Arrested Developments' Will Arnett as a TV news reporter whose divorce announcement sets off a familial domino effect. With Margo Martindale (The Americans), Beau Bridges, JB Smoove, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis (the wife of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day).
We're not on Ork any more, Mindy. Robin Williams returns to the sitcom realm in The Crazy Ones. He's the wildly successful, extravagantly flaky owner of an ad agency. Good thing he has his diligent daughter (Ringer's Sarah Michelle Gellar) to keep him in check. Some of the time. From David E. Kelley, the creator of Ally McBeal (and about a dozen other shows).
That leaves only the CW to reveal its plans for next season, an event scheduled for Thursday morning.
New programs in bold.
8:00 How I Met Your Mother
8:30 We Are Men
9:00 2 Broke Girls
9:00 NCIS: Los Angeles
10:00 Person of Interest
9:00 Criminal Minds
10:00 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
8:00 The Big Bang Theory
8:30 The Millers
9:00 The Crazy Ones
9:30 Two And A Half Men
8:00 Undercover Boss
9:00 Hawaii Five-0
10:00 Blue Bloods
8:00 Comedy reruns
9:00 Drama reruns
10:00 48 Hours
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 The Amazing Race
9:00 The Good Wife
10:00 The Mentalist