CBS Renew/Cancel: A Mass Renewal Leaves The Fate of Shows Like NCIS: LA and All Rise in Question


On the heels of a mass renewal this week, the following shows join the likes of the already-renewed sturdy players:

Blue Bloods: The series enters its 12th season and CBS' ruthless cancellation methods this year left everyone questioning if they would blade out the successful ensemble.  Thankfully, CBS continues to value Blue Bloods, and for good reasons.  They recently experienced spikes on Fridays at 10:00, an accomplishment indeed!

Bull: The 5th season performer is weakened and delivering passable ratings, some weeks narrowly clipping past lead-in All Rise.  At 10:00, CBS recognizes they have a strong player as NBC fumbled against it.

Magnum PI: Losing reboot neighbor MacGyver was saddening, but CBS would be foolish to throw the towel in on Magnum PI's successful 3rd season.  Unless the network decided to to an overhaul and revamp like they have in the past, such moves would be foolish.  And they give their neighbors competitive runs for their money, so a renewal is understood and celebrated.

NCIS: Losing ratings like all shows in its 18th season hurts, especially as it debuted below the 1.0 mark.  However, NCIS was CBS' first series to break the 1.0 ceiling without football inflation in 2021.  Flash forward to dreadful April ratings, and it reclaimed the title as the night's #1 MVP as NBC's This Is Us is in freefall.  

SWAT: For those tracking this column, SWAT danced everywhere from Leans Cancellation to the majority On The Bubble, and only last week upgraded to Likely Renewal.  This is due to a dreadful debut on Wednesdays and struggles against NBC's ultra-strong Chicago block.  However, SWAT proved it was not riding on SEAL Team's coattails and built on an evening free of Chicago competition.  Hopefully CBS recognizes this (as well as their Wednesdays need an overhaul) and moves SWAT.  Their Thursday timeslot worked out okay, and a vacancy on Friday night would pair well with CBS' successful block.


For those who read last week's column, they will notice FBI and FBI: Most Wanted were only listed as Likely Renewal and Certain.  Apologies as this author neglected to update the table.  But both have earned rightful renewals and will be back in the 2021-22 season.

Questioning CBS' Renew/Cancel logic has seemed like a mind scrambler this season.  However sleepy and tired they may appear, CBS does manage to wake up and shake things.  Whether politely discarding old items or scorching the schedule, they get back on curve.  This year's mass renewal combined with scheduling decisions mirrors their 2017 strategy.  They renewed 80% of their schedule and left limited remains leaving questions of shows down to the wire.  In 2017, this was notably left with newby The Great Indoors and outsourced 2 Broke Girls omitted from the mass renewal.  

They also pulled late-season tests of strength by rotating sitcoms enjoying the plum Thursday 8:30 timeslot to other places on the schedule.  Three discarded shows freed up 2 1/2 hours of schedule space with more coming.   7 shows have yet to be renewed so let's evaluate:

All Rise: A modest hit with an appealing cast, the legal eagle drama has yet to light a fire on Monday nights this season.  The lead-in comedies experienced January and February windfalls, and All Rise just held steady-ish.  If space opens, All Rise could be on the move as the Monday comedies are sturdy and CBS could opt to return the weakened Thursday 9:00 hour to Mondays.  As of now, All Rise remains On The Bubble, leaning toward the cancel dial.  It holds potential but too many other stronger dramas have been renewed or hold stronger potential.

B-Positive: Chuck Lorre's 2020 debut did indeed have promise, and the grace of Linda Lavin.  In-season ratings were indeed strong and respectable.  But CBS stayed a step ahead and tested B-Positive out in the 9:30 timeslot seemingly learned to test first after prior entry The Unicorn bombed earlier this year.  The results?  B-Positive experienced an immediate drop.  However, the ratings matched earlier seasonal ratings of The Unicorn, and spring presents weaker ratings than the fall.  It is not down for the count but B-Positive is a Likely Cancellation.  It could return and fit the tempo.  But better pray CBS decides to keep six sitcom timeslots vs. 4 or else B-Positive could reject CBS' scheduling transplant.

Clarice: Such a cheery show, based on a lovable character in history.  Mining from the history of successful thriller The Silence of the Lambs was a bold stroke, and could have perhaps placaded the vacancy of yet-to-be-scheduled Evil.  But dropping from the 0.54 debut rating to 0.21 (out of a lower-performing B-Positive's 0.46) has demonstrated Clarice has not only skinned 71% of its debut ratings, but is losing more blood than its weakened lead-in.  CBS has an opening, and Clarice is Certain for Cancellation unless the executives enjoy skinned-hyde lampshades.

NCIS: Los Angeles: Would CBS dare fuck with a solid spinoff who defined their franchise with the imagery of Erik Christian Olson and LL Cool J?  Doing so would prove foolish and perhaps CBS is attempting to update its brand.  However, it held sturdy and steady prior to The Equalizer's arrival.  If NCIS: LA does indeed perish this season, it will not be due to ratings but production costs.  Imagine if CBS decided to farm out the renewed FBI franchises to Wednesday (and aid other parts of the schedule with SEAL Team and SWAT).  And launched the anticipated NCIS: Hawaii on Tuesdays and returned NCIS: LA to Tuesdays at 10:00?  CBS has played viciously this season and could slice down another spinoff.  But it remains lucrative, so it shall remain a Likely Renewal.

SEAL Team: The power of David Boreanaz seems to be of value to CBS.  The trouble is that using "a star" to headline a random show is so 2000's.  However, SEAL Team has proven steady despite its rating being passable at best.  The show could move as CBS seems eager to update their blueprint, but could fit nicely in several slots on the map.  Currently, SEAL Team remains a Likely Renewal.

The Unicorn: The show is a Greek Tragedy as it had all of the elements of a hit.  An ultra-appealing cast with Walt Goggins headlining, moderately paced storytelling minus forced laugh tracks and moderate doses of serialized plotting paying ode to Cheers.  So what went wrong?  This show launched on CBS, a network prone to forced laugh-tracks and in recent years toilet and sexual humor.  The Unicorn didn't quite jell to the comedy pallet, and perhaps its failure to ignite the ratings is a compliment.  It is Certain for Cancellation as CBS expressed it holds little interest in the updated comedy.  A pity as it would have struck horn gold online.  Promise still remains as Paramount Plus needs new shows to hang their hat on so there is hope.

United States of Al: Given The Neighborhood is succeeding by tapping the 1970's "us vs them" culture clash concept.  A pity as the lead has enough to carry a decent show.  The problem is United States of Al hardly lacks the heart and soul of fellow CBS success Bob Hearts Abishola.  However, they have tattooed "Property of Chuck Lorre" high on their right butt cheek and perhaps could find space next year.  They are On The Bubble but leaning renewal

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