CBS should have at least modest hits in "Two Broke Girls" and "Person of Interest." We have high hopes for its comedy "How to Be a Gentleman." The network even has a strong Friday show in "A Gifted Man."
Only "Unforgettable" looks, you guessed it, forgettable. But it will probably do fine because of CBS' viewers enduring, baffling fixation on procedurals.
Welcome to the fourth installment of our five-part, network-by-network predictions for fall. CBS is offering only modest changes to the schedule that makes it the most-watched network on television. Call it the "if-it-ain't broke" network.
The network's only big gamble is trying to recast the returning "Two and a Half Men" — but since the other option was cancellation, it seemed like one worth taking. The intense interest in the show should ensure big ratings for its return Monday, and "Girls" will benefit. It premieres after "Men" before moving to its regular time slot between "How I Met Your Mother" and "Men."
But with that kind of exposure comes great expectations. And CBS is never sentimental about underperformers. The network is sitting pretty enough to cancel shows that lower-rated networks would be happy to keep around.
Also read: Fall TV Forecast: CW Grows Up With 'Ringer'
Here are our CBS predictions:
2 BROKE GIRLS
A lot will have to go wrong for "2 Broke Girls" not to score solid ratings.
The series follows two waitresses, played by Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, who also become roommates. Dennings' character is working class and street smart, and Behrs is newly poor after her father loses his fortune. The class conflict may be fertile enough to keep the show in business for years.
PERSON OF INTEREST
TV pedigrees don't come much better than this. JJ Abrams executive produces the drama from "Dark Knight" writer Jonathan Nolan, who revisits one of the less memorable aspects of the 2008 blockbuster: a vigilante uses cutting-edge technology to surveil the population, for their own protection.
This time we get two vigilantes: Emmy winning "Lost" vet Michael Emerson plays a billionaire who develops a computer program that identifies people who will be somehow involved in violent crimes. But it can't say whether they'll be the victim, the criminal, or a witness, so he enlists a former CIA agent played by former Jesus Jim Caviezel to find out.
Nolan's scripts can get a little cerebral — and confusing. The concept here may take getting used to. But we're confident viewers will stick it out. So is CBS: It says the show is its best-testing drama, ever.
HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN
If your expectations are low for this Thursday night comedy, we understand. Its print ads suggest an "Odd Couple" update: Kevin Dillon's macho physical trainer wipes his mouth with stiff columnist David Hornsby's tie. On Twitter, Andy Richter skewered the ad thusly: "Wait! One of them is a neatnik and the other one is a slob? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"
We feel his concern. But the show has a cast and creative team we believe in: Creator-star Hornsby is a vet of the always funny "Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Dillon did a good job playing exactly the kind of guy he plays here on "Entourage." Mary Lynn Rajskub was very funny on "Mr. Show" before she went dramatic on "24." And "Kids in the Hall" vet Dave Foley is a genius. We're sure they'll come up with something.
Despite the dumbed-down advertising, the show is about a gentlemanly young man trying to get by in an increasingly coarse world. That's a funny idea. And the manners guide upon which the series is loosely based — and which lends the show its name — is a delight.
A GIFTED MAN
How solid is CBS's bench? So solid it can drop a show that looks as good as this one on Fridays. Friday has become the night of fringe and supernatural shows (like "Fringe" and "Supernatural") whose fans are expected to follow them anywhere. The choices are Friday, or cancellation.
Like so many Friday shows, "A Gifted Man" has otherworldly elements — a self-centered neurologist played by Patrick Wilson is haunted by dead ex-wife Jennifer Ehle. But it feels rooted in a real, intriguing world, filled with brilliant achievers. Lower Manhattan has never looked so cool or clean — but we'll see if the show can keep its aesthetic appeal after the pilot. Executive producer Jonathan Demme directed it, and his attention to detail is obvious.
The cast is top-notch as well. It's good to see Julie Benz, as Wilson's sister, back on television. And "Justified's" Margo Martindale is perfect as his right-hand woman.
The one problem: Wilson's ex teaches him in the first episode not to be such a jerk. Where does he go from there?
This is not a joke: I keep forgetting this show exists. It feels too much like any number of other procedurals about crime solvers with almost superhuman mental gifts. In this one, Poppy Montgomery plays a woman with hyperthymesia, a rare condition that causes her to remember everything. Except how her sister was murdered.
That doesn't sound at all promising to me, but CBS viewers are bizarrely in love with procedurals. CBS knows exactly how to keep them happy, from the "CSIs" to the "NCISs" to "The Mentalist."
"Unforgettable" creator Ed Redlich wrote for and executive produced CBS's "Without a Trace," in which Montgomery starred. I didn't pay much attention to that show, either, but it did just fine without me for seven seasons.