CBS, known as the land of the crime procedural, is doubling down on comedy.
The network, the most-watched broadcast channel this season for the 13th time in 14 years, will feature sitcom blocks on Monday and Thursday nights for the 2016-2017 TV season. With many networks staying far away from traditional laugh-track comedies, CBS feels that multi-camera sitcoms are a genre it can own.
The unstoppable “Big Bang Theory” will anchor Monday night at 8 p.m. until the network’s “Thursday Night Football” obligations end in October. It’s followed by new comedy “Kevin Can Wait,” which stars Kevin James as a retired cop whose pesky family won’t allow him the relaxation he truly deserves. As CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller said during the news conference, the series is “exactly what you would expect from Kevin James.” Take from that what you will.
In October, “Kevin Can Wait” will move to 8 p.m. Monday. Then at 8:30, we get “Man With a Plan,” which features Matt LeBlanc in his return to broadcast TV. LeBlanc plays a contractor who becomes a quasi-stay-at-home-dad when his wife goes back to work after 15 years. Naturally, his three kids turn out to be maniacs who can’t wait to take advantage of “fun dad.”
Jumping ahead to comedy Thursdays, “The Big Bang Theory” shows up again at 8 p.m. after football ends, leading in to the debut of Joel McHale’s “The Great Indoors.” McHale stars as Jack, an “adventure reporter” for an outdoor magazine who suddenly finds himself trapped inside when the publication goes online-only and he’s forced to work with ... you guessed it, millennials! Jack is confounded by their listicles and clickbait and selfie sticks and (insert another millennial cliche here), and hilarity ensues.
“Mom” and “Life in Pieces” make up the rest of the Thursday night comedy block, and they’re followed by new drama “Pure Genius,” a medical drama about a Silicon Valley tech titan who creates an “ultra-modern” hospital with a unique approach to medicine and taps a controversial surgeon (Dermot Mulroney) to run it.
During the news conference, one reporter pressed CBS on the fact that this new lineup, particularly the comedies, appears to be very white-male-centric. Geller pointed out that in addition to the network’s female-led series (“Madam Secretary,” “2 Broke Girls” and “Mom”), “Doubt” will feature the first broadcast series with a transgender character played by a transgender actress (Laverne Cox).
Geller also shot down the rumor that the network passed on a “Nancy Drew” pilot because it was “too female”: “That’s just not true,” he said. “We had a number of pilots to choose from, and we chose the best pilots.”