Welcome back to a proper Upfronts season, the moment when network TV reveals all their secret plans for the fall television season (such as it is anymore). In the wake of a destructive pandemic and in the face of the inevitable takeover of streaming, networks are playing it safer and safer: canceling fewer shows, ordering fewer comedies, and greenlighting familiar titles.
CBS, like everyone else, is playing it safe. They’ve ordered four new scripted series — all one-hour dramas — two of which are traditional procedurals. The other two are more playful dramedies, but nothing is breaking new ground here. In fact, the most surprising addition to the fall lineup is a reality reimagining of a television classic.
7/8 p.m.: The Neighborhood (September 19)
7:30/8:30 p.m.: Bob ♥ Abishola (September 19)
8/9 p.m.: NCIS (September 19)
9/10 p.m.: NCIS: Hawai’i (September 19)
7/8 p.m.: FBI (September 20)
8/9 p.m.: FBI: International (September 20)
9/10 p.m.: FBI: Most Wanted (September 20)
7/8 p.m.: Survivor (September 21)
8/9 p.m.: THE REAL LOVE BOAT (October 5)
9/10 p.m.: The Amazing Race (September 21)
7/8 p.m.: Young Sheldon (September 29)
7:30/8:30 p.m.: Ghosts (September 29)
8/9 p.m.: SO HELP ME TODD (September 29)
9/10 p.m.: CSI: Vegas (September 29)
7/8 p.m.: S.W.A.T (October 7)
8/9 p.m.: FIRE COUNTRY (October 7)
9/10 p.m.: Blue Bloods (October 7)
7/8 p.m.: Repeats
8/9 p.m.: Repeats
9/10 p.m.: 48 Hours (September 17)
6/7 p.m.: 60 Minutes (September 18)
7/8 p.m.: The Equalizer (October 2)
8/9 p.m.: EAST NEW YORK (October 2)
9/10 p.m.: NCIS: Los Angeles (October 9)
New Fall Shows
The Real Love Boat
The new reality romance adventure The Real Love Boat, inspired by the classic hit scripted series “The Love Boat,” sets sail on Princess Cruises in 2022. The Real Love Boat brings singles together to travel the Mediterranean on a luxury cruise ship while looking for love. Destination dates, challenges and surprise singles will test the couples’ compatibility and chemistry. Like the beloved original scripted series, the indispensable crew members, including “captain” and “cruise director,” who will be selected from actual Princess crew members, will play pivotal roles in the matchmaking and navigation of the romantic (and sometimes turbulent) waters ahead. After almost a month at sea, only one winning couple will make it to the final port and take home a cash prize plus a once-in-a-lifetime trip courtesy of Princess Cruises, the series’ exclusive cruise line partner.
I don’t know, maybe setting a reality show — a dating reality show — on a cruise is not the best idea in the middle of a global pandemic? Just thinking out loud here.
SO Help Me Todd
So Help Me Todd stars Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin as razor-sharp, meticulous attorney Margaret Wright (Harden) and Todd (Astin), her talented but scruffy, aimless son whom she hires as her law firm’s in-house investigator. As the black sheep of the well-heeled Wright family, Todd is a laid-back, quick-thinking, excellent former private detective who fell on hard times after his flexible interpretation of the law got his license revoked. Margaret’s penchant for excellence and strict adherence to the law is at complete odds with Todd’s scrappy methods of finding his way through sticky situations: by the seat of his wrinkled pants. When Todd inadvertently teams with his mother on a case, she’s surprised to find herself duly impressed by – and proud of – his crafty ability to sleuth out information with his charm and his wide-ranging tech savvy. At last, Margaret sees a way to put her son on a “suitable” path to living an adult, financially solvent life she approves of, and she asks him to join her firm. Todd agrees, since it means getting his license back and once again doing the job he excels at and loves. Mother and son working together is a big first step toward mending their fragile, dysfunctional relationship, and they may even come away with a better understanding of each other at this pivotal point in their lives. But whether Todd and Margaret will be able to accept each other for who they are is another case entirely.
It’s a family dramedy with a crime/mystery-of-the-week angle that looks potentially fun. Hey, it’s not a cop show, a first responder drama, or a remake or spinoff, so I have to reward it points for originality.
Fire Country stars Max Thieriot (SEAL Team) as Bode Donovan, a young convict seeking redemption and a shortened prison sentence by joining an unconventional prison release firefighting program in Northern California, where he and other inmates are partnered with elite firefighters to extinguish massive, unpredictable wildfires across the region. It’s a high-risk, high-reward assignment, and the heat is turned up when Bode is assigned to the program in his rural hometown, where he was once a golden all-American son until his troubles began. Five years ago, Bode burned down everything in his life, leaving town with a big secret. Now he’s back, with the rap sheet of a criminal and the audacity to believe in a chance for redemption with Cal Fire. Inspired by series star Max Thieriot’s experiences growing up in Northern California fire country.
A redemption story set in wildfire country led by a CBS star sounds like the perfect CBS drama. (Theriot will be pulling double duty on this and SEAL Team.) I won’t be watching, but I suspect CBS audiences will.
East New York
From executive producers of NYPD Blue, East New York stars Amanda Warren as Deputy Inspector Regina Haywood, the newly promoted boss of the 74th Precinct, in East New York – a working-class neighborhood on the edge of Brooklyn in the midst of social upheaval and the early seeds of gentrification. With family ties to the area, Haywood is determined to deploy creative methods to protect her beloved community with the help of her officers and detectives. But first, she has the daunting task of getting them on board, as some are skeptical of her promotion, and others resist the changes she is desperate to make. Her team includes her mentor, shrewd veteran two-star Chief John Suarez (Emmy Award winner Jimmy Smits); Marvin Sandeford (Tony Award winner and current nominee Ruben Santiago-Hudson), a highly respected training officer and expert on the neighborhood; Tommy Killian (Kevin Rankin), a detective with some old-school approaches to policing; Capt. Stan Yenko (Richard Kind), Haywood’s gregarious and efficient right hand; Crystal Morales (Elizabeth Rodriguez), an intuitive detective who can’t be intimidated; Andre Bentley (Lavel Schley), a trainee from an upper middle-class background; and ambitious patrol officer Brandy Quinlan (Olivia Luccardi), the sole volunteer to live in a local housing project as part of Haywood’s plan to bridge the gap between police and community. Regina Haywood has a vision: she and the squad of the 74th Precinct will not only serve their community – they’ll also become part of it.
Again, I’m not the audience for a police procedural, but I do have to grant that this new drama has quite the cast with Amanda Warren, Jimmy Smits, Richard Kind, and Olivia Luccardi. East New York is an ambitious setting for CBS audiences, but considering its place on Sunday nights, it might work out.
True Lies, inspired by James Cameron’s hit action/comedy film of the same name, follows Harry (Steve Howey), a first-class international spy for U.S. intelligence agency Omega Sector, and his wife, Helen (Ginger Gonzaga), a language professor bored with her daily routine, who makes the shocking discovery that her seemingly ordinary husband is leading an extraordinary double life. With the secret out, Omega recruits Helen, who impresses everyone with her formidable skills (thanks to Tae Bo and yoga), and she joins Harry and his team of top-notch operatives, embarking on covert missions around the globe and an exhilarating life of danger and adventure. The renewed bond between them adds much-needed sizzle to the Taskers’ emotionally distant marriage and upends the top-secret world of Omega Sector. But, as Harry says, if you’re going to save the world, you might as well do it for the ones you love.
Steve Howey was genuinely one of my favorite parts of Shameless — Kevin and Veronica were my favorite characters — so I’m glad to see him get a star turn on a network drama that looks like it has potential. Again, no points for originality, but I have to admit, True Lies is a great starting point for a sexy spy series. Will I personally watch? Probably not, but I might tune in for an episode out of curiosity. And Howey.
In addition to these series, CBS also has ordered a few alternative series and Christmas specials:
“Upcoming previously announced alternative series include Superfan, a musical spectacle disguised as a game show; Lingo, a word-twisting, fast-thinking game show executive-produced and hosted by Emmy Award winner RuPaul Charles; Tough As Nails; and Secret Celebrity Renovation.
Also, CBS will ring in the holidays with three original movies: When Christmas Was Young, executive-produced by award-winning musician Sheryl Crow; Fit For Christmas, starring The Talk’s Amanda Kloots, who will also executive-produce; and Must Love Christmas, from prolific holiday film writer and producer Mark Amato.”
Update on July 21, 2022: Ordered to series:
The Never Game
The Never Game features Justin Hartley as lone-wolf survivalist Colter Shaw, who roams the country as a “reward seeker,” using his expert tracking skills to help private citizens and law enforcement to solve all manner of mysteries while contending with his own fractured family.
- B Positive
- Good Sam
- How We Roll
- Love Island
- Magnum P.I.
- United States of Al
- The Amazing Race
- Blue Bloods
- Bob Hearts Abishola
- CSI: Vegas
- The Equalizer
- FBI: International
- FBI: Most Wanted
- NCIS: Hawai’i
- NCIS: Los Angeles
- The Neighborhood
- Secret Celebrity Renovation
- Tough as Nails
- Young Sheldon
Shows Still Up in the Air
- Big Brother
- Big Brother Celebrity Edition
- Beyond the Edge
- Come Dance With Me
- The Greatest #AtHome Videos
- Undercover Boss