TV critics and reviewers still can't believe that CBS made the choice to cancel Moonlight. Marisa Guthrie, from Broadcasting & Cable website, talked to several television critics about the lineup announcements of all the networks. I'll only share their opinions of CBS. The yellow highlighted text is my emphasis.
If Critics Ran the Networks: A Multiplatform Roundtable
Five top thinkers tell us how they'd fix what's broken about broadcast TV.
By Marisa Guthrie
TV critics have it easy. They get to voice their strongly held opinions about what networks choose to fill their airwaves. So we decided to offer five of the industry's top critics (listed below) a keener challenge: Tell us what each of the broadcast networks is doing right, and what you would do to fix what they're doing wrong.
The timing for this lively roundtable couldn't be better. We've seen a development season plagued by a writers' strike, digital uncertainty and a recession. And with few pilots to view in advance of this week's broadcast portion of the Television Critics Association confab on the West Coast, the fall 2008 season may be the best-kept industry secret since the merger of UPN and The WB. There's plenty to talk about.
The B&C Critics Roundtable:
Aaron Barnhart, The Kansas City Star
Robert Bianco, USA Today
David Bianculli, B&C and TVWorthWatching.com
Matt Roush, TV Guide
Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune
CBS: You Have the Right to Remain Violent
GUTHRIE: CBS has aging police procedurals and they need new ones. The Mentalist with Simon Baker, could that fill the bill? They also famously tried to be daring and different last season.
BIANCO: That's like the wedding band that plays “Proud Mary” for the young people.
GUTHRIE: But why didn't it work?
RYAN: Because they didn't commit to it. I think the one show where you could argue that they did make a passionate or at least a realistic or reasonable commitment to doing something different was Swingtown, which is now, as we all know, out in the middle of the summer.
We all watched that pilot for Viva Laughlin; that was a BBC [British Broadcasting Corp.] series and it was sensational and it had a really terrific cast, but you had to fully commit to it.
Imagine Ugly Betty if it weren't Ugly Betty but a knockoff of Suddenly Susan. No, you had to really commit to that particular concept and get a show runner who was really gonna go for it. Because Lost, Ugly Betty, sometimes with a particular show you have to embrace one sensibility, one creative vision and go for it.
BARNHART: I think it's fascinating that CBS would take a show like Moonlight and remove it from its schedule and then put a show like The Mentalist on, which is essentially a bunch of CBS executives sitting around saying, OK, which of our bankable stars have we not plugged into a forensic detective drama yet? Oh, Simon Baker.
And so what we have is The Guardian airlifted into a police procedural. Until CBS really starts to tank with this approach, I think that their conservative programming strategy is probably not such a bad thing.
ROUSH: With CBS, again it's a thing about execution. It wasn't just that weird shows didn't work last year, because Pushing Daisies was at least a creative triumph. But at CBS, when they tried to go off the charts, they just didn't, like Mo [Ryan] said, commit to them, or they just didn't execute.
And this time they've gone back to their strengths. I think that their Monday-night comedy is strong. The Mentalist, kind of a thin concept, but Simon Baker brings a lot of charm to what he's doing and it really fits into their mode. And we haven't seen the full pilot of The Eleventh Hour yet, which is this new trend of creepy procedurals with a little bit of a science-fiction aspect to them.
But that might work for CBS because it's within the procedural format. So they're playing it safe, but I think playing it safe after last year is probably the right way to go.
BIANCO: I have to say if I'm forced to choose, I'd rather go with ordinary competence than extraordinary incompetence. I'd rather have The Mentalist than Viva Laughlin, as much fun as it was to make fun of Viva Laughlin.
And I thought CBS' slate this year was surprisingly strong. I don't know that The Mentalist will make anybody's best list, but I think in that time slot it will be a solid contender, just an ordinary, entertaining TV show.