CBS has officially made its new series orders for next season. The network is likely putting a pin in its plans for comedy expansion by only picking two new half-hour series, the multi-camera Partners and Friend Me. CBS also showed that it is not ready to launch its first single-camera comedy since Worst Week in 2008 by passing on Nick Stoller’s well-regarded Entry Level.
The network is loading up on the drama side with four new series, the contemporary Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary, period drama Vegas (formerly Ralph Lamb), legal drama Made In Jersey (form. Baby Big Shot) and cop drama Golden Boy. The order of four new drama series does not bode well for the network’s bubble dramas. When CBS picked up four new dramas in 2010, it killed four existing dramas, including veterans The Ghost Whisperer and Cold Case. Last year, the network picked up four new drama series and canceled three. Two of the spots on the cancellation list are already spoken for with rookies NYC 22 and A Gifted Man. Then things become dicey. Despite recent hopes that CBS may bring the hugely popular globally CSI franchise intact after all, that now appears unlikely, and speculation is that the more expensive spinoff CSI: Miami may be going away. The large new drama order also could mean serious trouble for freshman Unforgettable, though the freshman drama’s chances have been looking better over the past week, following the ratings uptick for its season finale.
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Back to CBS’ new series. Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller as present day Sherlock Holmes living in New York City and Lucy Liu as his sidekick Joan Watson, was one of the clear-cut frontrunners this year that appeared destined for the fall schedule from the script stage. The question is, will Sherlock replace another quirky detective, Patrick Jane, on the CBS schedule, possibly taking over The Mentalist‘s Thursday 10 PM slot? Elementary was written by Robert Doherty and directed by Michael Cuesta; CBS TV Studios and Timberman/Beverly are producing.
Vegas, also from CBS TV Studios, boasts four actors who have carried movies and TV shows: Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Jason O’Mara and Carrie-Anne Moss. Considered CBS’ big-swing new series for next season, it is a period piece set in the 1960s centered around the true story of Ralph Lamb (Quaid) – rodeo cowboy turned longtime Sheriff of Las Vegas. Goodfellas‘ Nicholas Pileggi and Greg Walker wrote the pilot, which was directed by James Mangold. All three exec produce with Cathy Konrad and Arthur Sarkissian.
The other two new CBS dramas take a stab at the legal and cop drama genres. Made In Jersey, which sounds a little like a female Suits, stars British actress Janet Montgomery as a working class woman who uses her street smarts to compete with her more polished colleagues at a Manhattan law firm. This could be a breakout role for Montgomery, who tested great and has been getting high marks for her performance. Dana Calvo wrote the project for Sony TV/CBS TV Studios and Fanfare. Mark Waters directed the pilot, Kevin Falls serves as showrunner.
The series order marks a great comeback for Nicholas Wootton and Greg Berlanti’s Golden Boy, which hit a snag early on when Ryan Phillippe, originally cast as the lead, pulled out. Brit Theo James was cast in the role — a cop on a meteoric rise from officer to detective to Police Commissioner. Richard Shepard directed the pilot for Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Prods.
Speaking of comebacks, how about Max Mutchnick and David Kohan? After trying twice before to do a comedy based on their real-life friendship between a gay and a straight guy, the third time proved to be the charm, with their pilot Partners going to series. Michael Urie, Sophia Bush, David Krumholtz and Brandon Routh star. Warner Bros. TV produces, with James Burrows directing the pilot.
Another vetran multi-camera director, Pamela Fryman, helmed the pilot for the other new CBS comedy series, Friend Me, from writers Alan Kirschenbaum and Ajay Sahgal, CBS TV Studios and the Tannenbaum Co. It stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad fame and Nicholas Braun as twenty-something best friends and complete opposites who move from their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana to Los Angeles to begin their exciting new lives working at Groupon. Sounds a bit like a male 2 Broke Girls.