The fall lineups across all the major networks are shaping up to be some of the biggest we’ve ever seen. The new offerings cover everything from superheroes to adaptations from popular movies, following a new formula that’s become the status quo for television. Each network has at least one big show to unveil, complemented by an avalanche of other shows. What CBS has done though is reshuffle their entire lineup to meet the changing standards of audiences.
CBS was once known for its three-camera sitcoms, drawing in massive viewership for shows like Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and How I Met Your Mother. Big Bang Theory is the only one of the three that remains now, and the network is content to make that its final bastion for laugh-track comedy. Two Broke Girls has been benched until 2016, and a new guard has entered the fray to solidify CBS as a network specializing in compelling dramas rather than Chuck Lorre-led sitcoms.
This one has arguably been CBS’s most talked-about upcoming series, and for a good reason. Initial buzz for it was positive, with it acting as the first female-led superhero show to debut in this new era of comic book adaptations. But then the first-look trailer hit the web, and skepticism abounded.
At least based on the footage we saw, it seemed to portray our titular hero as a frazzled stereotypical rom-com character who happened to be Superman’s cousin. Showrunner Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash) has shown some significant struggles in his portrayals of women on both his CW shows, usually relegating them to classic gender roles as little more than love interests. That being so, it was only a trailer, so maybe the full series will be a marked improvement over what little we’ve seen so far.
Each network seems to have their token movie adaptation: Fox has Minority Report, and ABC has Uncle Buck. CBS’s takes from the Bradley Cooper-led Limitless, the story of a man with enhanced cognitive abilities given to him by a super-drug. Cooper (an executive producer on the show) will pop in for occasional cameo appearances, but for the most part it’ll be led by Jake McDorman.
The story follows McDorman’s character Brian Finch, a man who takes the miracle brain drug and uses it to help the FBI solve murder cases. The intrigue appears to go far deeper than simply a crime procedural, given the drug’s ability to turn Finch into “the smartest man in the world” for the 12 or so hours it lasts. It certainly helps having the original star behind the project, something that could very well act as a creative anchor to keep the narrative steady.
3. Angel From Hell
This one of the only comedies CBS is debuting, and even it seems to fall more in the “drama” category. Jane Lynch stars as a guardian angel, showing up out of nowhere to guide Allison, a workaholic with a cheating boyfriend who can’t seem to get her life together. Lynch plays off as a bit of an obsessed stalker in initial appearances, only to reveal herself as a watchful protector who’s been around all of Allison’s life, with the goal of straightening out her charge’s life.
Lynch is finally free of Fox’s Glee, leaving her able to take her considerably comedic talents over to CBS. She seems to be assuming her normal “quirky and charmingly crass” typecast that’s followed her around the last few years, but no one does it better than her. She’ll have a chance to be front and center as the lead personality of Angel From Hell.
4. Life in Pieces
Following the format of ABC’s Modern Family, Life in Pieces tracks individual stories within a large extended family. It won’t feature the talking head faux-documentary style of its predecessor, but it does hit a lot of similar story beats. We have the chaotic center family, the cooky grandparents, and the coming-of-age teenager looking to make his own way in the world. Cliches aside, it’s refreshing to see the fake documentary style forgone for a more typical single-camera format. It makes for more cohesive storytelling, and for a show focusing on multiple perspectives, that becomes imperative.
5. Code Black
It’s been awhile since a new medical drama has hit the airwaves, but with Greys Anatomy running its course over on ABC, there’s no better time than now. Code Black takes us inside the most prestigious Emergency Room in all of Los Angeles, led by your classic “she’s so controversial but also so good so we can’t fire her” doctor. With a fresh batch of interns in the same mold as Scrubs, ER, and Grey’s, Code Black focuses less on the relationship drama and more on the doctoring. Perhaps medical shows have run their course, but we won’t know for sure until we see how well this one does in primetime.
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