Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Television--- It was CBS' turn earlier today to make its annual upfront presentation to advertisers, as dozens of TV shows were either renewed or cancelled. NBC, ABC, and The WB have already made their upfront presentations, as detailed in my coverage of the events on Monday and Tuesday.

-CBS had one of its best TV seasons in recent memory, and unlike ABC with its massive schedule changes for this fall, CBS is not going to try to fix something that isn't broken. There were plenty of changes to the schedule announced, but not the kind of drastic changes announced by the resurgent ABC or the struggling NBC. As the TV network with the highest ratings on all of television, CBS has less areas that it needs to change or improve, but it also has a lower tolerance for low ratings and will not hesitate to cancel a show if it's not meeting the network's expectations.

-The biggest news from CBS is that after six and a half years on the air, 60 Minutes Wednesday has been cancelled, not coincidentally in its first renewal cycle after the Dan Rather "Memo-Gate" scandal during last year's election season. CBS president Les Moonves said that it was a ratings decision and not a content decision to cancel the show, but that's ignoring the fact that the show's ratings started to fall off after the Memo-Gate scandal. New episodes of 60 Minutes Wednesday are expected to continue airing through the end of the summer. Dan Rather will get to save face by appearing as a correspondent on 60 Minutes Sunday, although Moonves did say that Rather will not be given "co-editor" status, as other 60 Minutes correspondents are given. Rather's contract with CBS expires in 2006, at which point he will either renew his contract or leave the network entirely.

-As reported yesterday on Ivan's Blog, it was looking more and more likely that Listen Up, Judging Amy, and Joan of Arcadia would all get cancelled, and that's exactly what happened. The most surprising of these cancellations has to be Judging Amy, because nobody in the TV industry would have believed you a few months ago if you told them that Judging Amy would get cancelled. In its sixth season, the show was drawing very good ratings even by CBS' high standards, but its ratings weren't as impressive in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 year-old demographic, and that is very likely what led to the show's demise.

-Joan of Arcadia's cancellation was expected, and the term "from buzz to bust" has been used to describe the show a lot in recent days. The show did well in its first season, but fell off dramatically in its second season and will not be returning for a third.

-Listen Up, a comedy based on the life of Pardon the Interruption co-host and Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, was also cancelled in a close call that could have gone either way. The show's ratings started off as a moderate hit by CBS ratings standards before eventually slipping to being a mild disappointment by CBS ratings standards, and CBS doesn't have to tolerate mild disappointments with as many hit shows as it has. It's worth noting that the "mildly disappointing" ratings in the 6.5 range that Listen Up was drawing towards the end of its run would be considered a hit on any other network on television, but not on CBS.

-Wickedly Perfect will not be brought back for a second season, and it was considered merciful and highly unusual for CBS to let the show play out its entire ten-episode first season given its horrible ratings. It was demoted to Saturday nights, but normally if a show draws ratings this bad, it gets yanked immediately. As an example, the reality show The Will produced extremely low ratings for CBS on a Saturday night ONE TIME earlier this season and was never seen or heard from again.

-Center of the Universe, the freshman comedy starring John Goodman, will not be returning for a second season. The show was put on hiatus way back in January and has now been officially cancelled, despite the fact that it was drawing decent ratings. Five episodes of the series remain unaired, and it remains possible that CBS could air those five episodes sometime this summer.

-The newsmagazine 48 Hours Mystery has been renewed by CBS despite fairly low ratings, but it airs on Saturday night and it has much lower ratings standards to meet as a result. Also, with the cancellation of 60 Minutes Wednesday, CBS didn't want to cancel two of its three newsmagazines in one fell swoop. Starting this fall, CBS, ABC, and NBC will all have two hours of newsmagazines on the schedule per week (CBS with 60 Minutes Sunday and 48 Hours Mystery, ABC with Primetime Live and 20/20, and NBC with Dateline Friday and Dateline Sunday).

-CSI New York could have easily been moved to a less competitive, but CBS is not backing down an inch from going after the original Law & Order franchise in the Wednesdays at 10:00 PM timeslot. CSI New York is the only CSI franchise that doesn't automatically crush everything in its path in the ratings, but it's still a huge step for it to challenge Law & Order in the ratings the way it has in just its first season. Repeats of CSI New York will start airing on Spike TV in September.

-CBS is also not backing down from the new threat it has faced in the Sundays at 8:00 PM timeslot from ABC's breakout hit Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, as CBS' own hit show Cold Case will continue to air in that timeslot rather than being moved to a different night or time.

-As previously reported, the huge hit comedy Two and a Half Men will indeed inherit the Mondays at 9:00 PM timeslot left behind by Everybody Loves Raymond.

-King of Queens and Still Standing have both been renewed and will be swapping nights. After two years on Wednesday nights with mixed results in the ratings, King of Queens will be returning to its old Mondays at 8:00 PM timeslot. Still Standing, which has been in the Mondays at 8:00 PM timeslot for the past two seasons, will be moved to Wednesdays at 8:00 PM.

-Yes Dear was relegated to being "just a midseason replacement show" this past season and was considered likely to be cancelled, but its ratings upon returning to the schedule were higher than CBS expected, thus earning the show a renewal for another season. Yes Dear will air this fall on Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM, thus reuniting the show with its old lead-in, Still Standing.

-NCIS and The Amazing Race have both been renewed and will continue to air on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM, respectively. The NCIS renewal is mildly surprising given the fact that while the show draws strong overall ratings, it has never done well in the 18-to-49 year old demographic, which is what got Judging Amy cancelled.

-The highest-profile new series on CBS' fall schedule is Ghost Whisperers, which will air on Friday nights at 8:00 PM. The show is very similar to NBC's Medium in concept, only with Jennifer Love Hewitt as the star. So the show is basically being pitched by CBS as, "Jennifer Love Hewitt's breast implants communicate with the dead..."

-The freshman drama Numbers has been renewed, despite a big drop-off from its initial ratings to where its ratings ended up, and it will stay in the Fridays at 10:00 PM timeslot.

-The ridiculous over-exposure of Survivor will continue this fall in the Thursdays at 8:00 PM timeslot with Survivor: Guatemala, which seems like the 751st season of show.

-The highest-rated two-hour block of programming from any single TV network will remain intact, as CSI and Without a Trace will continue to air on Thursday nights from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

-Big Brother is returning for another season, but only as a summer series at this point. The new season of the show will premiere on July 7, and CBS will then decide whether or not to pick up the series for any additional seasons based on its ratings performance this summer.

-I'll be back with a report tomorrow evening from the final day of upfront presentations, with Fox and UPN set to unveil their fall schedules.