CBS shows coming in Fall 2009

Slow and steady wins the race

CBS upfronts

CBS isn’t the sexiest of networks, but with its constant diet of cop procedurals, Chuck Lorre comedies and adult-skewed programming, it’s about the only one that’s done better this year than it did last. Apparently convinced that slow and steady – and unsexy – shows with bad scripts but good casts will win the race, CBS has two more cop procedurals, two medical procedurals and a law procedural – oh, and a comedy about a pregnant movie critic, starring someone who used to be in a Chuck Lorre comedy. They always like to throw a wildcard into the mix, don’t they?

So, after the jump, plot run-downs and videos from Accidentally On Purpose, The Good Wife, NCIS: Los Angeles, Three Rivers, The Bridge and Miami Trauma.

Accidentally On Purpose (Mondays 8:30pm)
Half-hour comedy
Comedy starring Golden Globe Award winner Jenna Elfman as Billie, a single woman who finds herself “accidentally” pregnant after a one-night stand with a much younger guy, and decides to keep the baby… and the guy.

A newspaper film critic, Billie is barely surviving a humiliating breakup with her charming boss, James (Grant Show), who’s still trying to resume their relationship. Suddenly expecting a child with her “boy toy,” Zack (Jon Foster), Billie and Zack make an arrangement: to live together platonically. Billie’s party girl best friend Olivia (Ashley Jensen), and Abby (Lennon Parham), her conventional, younger married sister, eagerly look forward to the new addition and offer their own brands of advice and encouragement.

But when Zack and his freeloading friends, including Davis (Nicolas Wright), start to turn her place into a frat house, Billie isn’t sure if she’s living with a boyfriend, a roommate, or if she just has another child to raise. Lloyd Braun, Gail Berman, Gene Stein and Claudia Lonow are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios.

Cast and crew
Jenna Elfman (Billie)
James (Grant Show)
Zack (Jon Foster)
Olivia (Ashley Jensen)
Abby (Lennon Parham)
Davis (Nicolas Wright)

Executive Producers: Lloyd Braun, Gail Berman, Gene Stein, Claudia Lonow

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: As much as I love both Jenna Elfman and Ashley Jensen, this didn’t seem like the right vehicle for either of them. Seemed a bit painful, with maybe one or two good moments, and ABC’s Cougar Town actually seemed preferable, something I didn’t see coming yesterday.

No embeddable vid for The Good Wife, but you can see one over here.

The Good Wife (Tuesdays 10pm)
One-hour drama
Drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and re-enter the workforce after her husband’s very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail. Pushing aside the betrayal and crushing public humiliation caused by her husband Peter (Chris Noth), Alicia Florrick (Margulies) starts over by pursuing her original career as a defense attorney.

As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, she joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who is interested to see how Alicia will perform after 13 years out of the courtroom. Alicia is grateful the firm’s top litigator, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), offers to mentor her but discovers the offer has conditions and realizes she’s going to need to succeed on her own merit.

Alicia’s main competition among the firm’s 20-something new recruits is Cary (Matt Czuchry), a recent Harvard grad who is affable on the surface, but will use any means to ensure that he, not Alicia, secures the one full-time associate position that’s available. Fortunately, Alicia finds an ally in Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the firm’s tough in-house investigator.

Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician’s scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach (Graham Phillips) and 13-year-old Grace (Makenzie Vega). For the first time in years, Alicia trades in her identity as the “good wife” and takes charge of her own destiny. Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Robert King, Michelle King, Dee Johnson and David Zucker are the executive producers.

Cast and crew
Peter (Chris Noth)
Alicia Florrick (Margulies)
Will Gardner (Josh Charles)
Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski)
Cary (Matt Czuchry)
Kalinda (Archie Panjabi)
Zach (Graham Phillips)
Grace (Makenzie Vega)

Executive Producers: Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, Robert King, Michelle King, Dee Johnson, David Zucker

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: I can see this getting some traction in certain demographics, but Julianna Margulies’ last effort as a lawyer (Canterbury’s Law) didn’t exactly pan out. While it was slightly funnier than I was expecting, I’m not seeing anything yet that will really distinguish it from other shows.

NCIS: Los Angeles (Tuesdays 9pm)
One-hour drama
A drama about the high stakes world of undercover surveillance at the Office of Special Projects (OSP), a division of NCIS that is charged with apprehending dangerous and elusive criminals that pose a threat to the nation’s security. By assuming false identities and utilizing the most advanced technology, this team of highly trained agents goes deep undercover, putting their lives on the line in the field to bring down their targets.

Special Agent “G” Callen (Chris O’Donnell) is a chameleon who transforms himself into whomever he needs to be to infiltrate the criminal underworld. His partner is Special Agent Sam Hanna (LL Cool J), a former U.S. Navy SEAL who has seen action in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and a surveillance expert who uses state of the art monitoring equipment to look out for those in the field and feed them crucial information.

Both Callen and Hanna report to Special Agent Lara Macy (Louise Lombard), the OSP team leader responsible for directing the operations and making life-or-death decisions. Assisting the team is Special Agent Kensi Lo (Daniela Ruah), the exceptionally bright daughter of a slain Marine who lives for the adrenalin rush that comes with undercover work, and Operational Psychologist Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), adept at getting into anybody’s head, profiling the target and monitoring agents’ states of mind before, during and after missions.

Armed with the latest in high tech gear and sent regularly into life-threatening situations, this tight-knit team relies on each other to do what is necessary to protect national interests.

“G” Callen (Chris O’Donnell)
Sam Hanna (LL Cool J)
Lara Macy (Louise Lombard)
Kensi Lo (Daniela Ruah)
Nate Getz (Peter Cambor)

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: I’m not a big fan of NCIS, so I probably won’t watch this. It certainly doesn’t look a patch on The Unit in terms of plausibility. But I do like LL Cool J and Louise Lombard so I might give it a whirl.

Three Rivers (Sundays 9pm)
One-hour drama
Medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel.

Leading the elite team is Dr. Andy Yablonski (Alex O’Loughlin), the highly-skilled workaholic lead organ transplant surgeon, whose good-natured personality and sarcastic wit makes him popular with his patients and colleagues.

His colleagues include Dr. Miranda Foster (Katherine Moennig), a surgical fellow with a rebellious streak and fiery temper who strives to live up to her deceased father’s excellent surgical reputation; Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney), a womanizing surgical resident who’s broken as many hearts as he’s replaced; Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke), the inexperienced new transplant coordinator who arranges the intricately choreographed process of quickly and carefully transporting organs from donor to patient; Dr. Sophia Jordan (Julia Ormond), the head of surgery and a dedicated medical professional; and Pam Acosta (Justina Machado), Andy’s no-nonsense operating assistant and best friend.

In this high stakes arena, in which every case is a race against the clock, these tenacious surgeons and medical professionals are the last hope for their patients. Carol Barbee, Curtis Hanson and Carol Fenelon are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios.

Cast and crew
Dr. Andy Yablonski (Alex O’Loughlin)
Dr. Miranda Foster (Katherine Moennig)
Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney)
Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke)
Dr. Sophia Jordan (Julia Ormond)
Pam Acosta (Justina Machado)

Executive Producers: Carol Barbee, Curtis Hanson, Carol Fenelon

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: Well, IIRC, CBS doesn’t have a medical show at the moment, so here’s the first of its two attempts to jump start one into life. I was prepared to give Three Rivers the benefit of the doubt, since Alex O’Loughlin was so good on Moonlight and Julia Ormond is always worth watching. But the sheer ineptitude of the script made me seriously doubt whether this could possibly be any good. Ever. A limited format didn’t exactly help 3Lbs, so despite the best attempts to do a tripartite Law and Order show with organ donations, I don’t think this has much mileage.

The Bridge (Mid-Season)
One-hour drama
Drama about a tough and dedicated police officer who is voted to become the police union’s dynamic leader. To serve the public as well as his 8,000 fellow officers, charismatic Frank Leo (Aaron Douglas) battles criminals on the street, corruption in the ranks and his own bosses.

On the force is his able partner and confidante Tommy Dunn (Paul Popowich), who rides with Frank across the bridge that spans the divide between the rich and the poor in the area they patrol; Staff Sergeant Bernie Kantor (Frank Cassini), a voice of reason and moral sounding board; Jill (Inga Cadranel), a detective with a lot of attitude who is moving up the ranks; Billy (Theresa Joy), a young female cop who is determined to prove herself to the guys; and Ed Wycoff (Michael Murphy), the shrewd Chief of Police.

Abby St. James (Ona Grauer) is a sharp prosecutor who begins working with the police union, and shares a mutual attraction with Frank. In his new position, Frank Leo takes on the politically-motivated department brass… and makes many powerful enemies in the process. Craig Bromell, Adam J. Shully, Laszlo Barna, Alan Di Fiore and Robert Wertheimer are executive producers.

Cast and crew
Frank Leo (Aaron Douglas)
Tommy Dunn (Paul Popowich)
Bernie Kantor (Frank Cassini)
Jill (Inga Cadranel)
Billy (Theresa Joy)
Ed Wycoff (Michael Murphy)
Abby St. James (Ona Grauer)

Executive Producers: Craig Bromell, Adam J. Shully, Laszlo Barna, Alan Di Fiore, Robert Wertheimer

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: Obviously spurred on by the success of Flashpoint, CBS did another co-production deal with Canada’s CTV to produce another cop drama located somewhere that’s probably Canada, but we’re not going to say to avoid scaring off US viewers. Nevertheless, this does look relatively interesting, thanks to Aaron Douglas off BSG and a new take – for mainstream US TV – on cops: dealing with the politics and union life of the job. The characters don’t exactly sparkle yet, but worth tuning in to see if there’s potential.

Miami Trauma (Mid-Season)
One-hour drama
Drama about a team of expert surgeons who work at one of the premiere trauma facilities in the country, where only patients with life threatening injuries are treated.

Dr. Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam) is new to the trauma team, after a tour of duty in a MASH unit during the Gulf war. Dr. Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla) is a workaholic surgeon who is more comfortable in her scrubs than she is out in the real world.

Dr. Christopher Deleo, “Dr. C.,” is a playboy who thrives on the high-stakes of trauma medicine and is, by his own description, a genius redneck. Dr. Serena Warren (Elisabeth Harnois) is fresh out of medical school, and head nurse Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding) keeps the doctors on track and the patients’ families updated in this chaotic corner of the medical profession.

Together, this team of doctors excels in the “golden hour,” the 60 minutes after being critically injured, when a patient’s life hangs in the balance. Jerry Bruckheimer, Jeffrey Lieber and Jonathan Littman are executive producers for Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television Distribution.

Cast and crew
Dr. Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam)
Dr. Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla)
Dr. Serena Warren (Elisabeth Harnois)
Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding)

Executive Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jeffrey Lieber, Jonathan Littman

CBS web site

Rob’s initial impression: The second of the two new CBS medical dramas, apart from Jeremy Northam, there’s not much in the very Bruckheimer-esque Miami Trauma that’s interesting. Probably one to skip.

Overall impression
As even Les Moonves admits, this isn’t a spectacularly sexy line-up. But sexy doesn’t appear to be what the viewing public wants right now. Anyone who is looking for something original and exciting dramatically is going to have to look to another network, I suspect.