TCA Summer 2016 Tour: Quick Takes from the CBS Presentations

Twice a year, various cable and networks attend the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour where they promote new and returning television shows through a series of daily panels and exclusive preview clips spanning over a two week period.  The tour presentations provide a way for television shows to get traction and attention of the hundreds of TV critics who then in turn will hopefully write about and promote those shows to their various audiences via online and print media outlets. 

This Summer’s TCA tour included presentations from CBS, who presented on the fifteenth day of the tour.  Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:



August 25th – James Corden’s next “Carpool Karaoke” with Britney Spears
September 18th – 2 hour premiere of 6 part event series “Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey”
September 19th – KEVIN CAN WAIT premiere
September 20th – BULL premiere
September 23rd – MACGYVER premiere
October 24th – MAN WITH A PLAN premiere
October 27th – PURE GENIUS premiere
October 27th – THE GREAT INDOORS premiere
Midseason 2017 – DOUBT premiere
January 2017 – STAR TEK: DISCOVERY premiere on CBS All Access (online)


Wilmer Valderrama, Jennifer Esposito, Duane Henry join NCIS.
Adam Rodriguez returns to CRIMINAL MINDS.
Aisha Tyler joins CRIMINAL MINDS, and will continue to co-host THE TALK as well.
Rob Lowe, Boris Kodjoe & Jillian Murray join CODE BLACK.
BIG BROTHER renewed for two more years and will air on CBS All Access (online) this Fall.
ZOO renewed for Season 3.
Hunter King upgraded to regular on LIFE IN PIECES.

Re LIMITLESS Cancellation:

CBS’ President Glenn Geller said LIMITLESS did not connect with viewers as well as other shows. So, unfortunately, no real answer out of CBS executive session regarding why  LIMITLESS canceled, when other lower rated shows renewed, just the vague response that it “didn’t connect with viewers.”  (My “two cents”: I miss LIMITLESS.  The lack of “connectivity” excuse doesn’t make any sense to me as ratings for LIMITLESS were consistently strong. CBS is spinning things by saying LIMITLESS did not connect with viewers and that makes me wonder what real reason was.  CBS also seems intent on getting away from sci-fi shows, which is sad trend. With cancellation and ending of LIMITLESS, THE GOOD WIFE, PERSON OF INTEREST, and with SUPERGIRL moving over to the CW, that only leaves MADAM SECRETARY, ELEMENTARY, and SCORPION was TV shows that I watch on CBS.  That means I am not as “connected” to CBS since it seems content to abandon sci-fi TV shows to other networks — except for its new STAR TREK series, which will be aired online and not on CBS’ broadcast channel.  It feel like CBS seems to believe sci-fi viewers are more likely to watch online than on TV set by making STAR TREK: DISCOVERY available exclusively on CBS All Access, which might be done to ensure that CBS All Access gets viewers.  It should be noted that I always watched LIMITLESS ahead of other TV shows because it was guaranteed fun and thought-provoking. It saddens me that it is gone.  Fortunately, Syfy and CW offer fantastic sci-fi/genre TV shows, and coming this Fall are NBC’s TIMELESS, HBO’s WESTWORLD, and USA Network’s FALLING WATER, which are all great sci-fi TV shows. For those who want to enjoy or check out LIMITLESS, it comes out September 6th on DVD and you can pre-order it from Amazon.)

From Q&A:
Also a TCA point of contention with CBS President Glenn Geller, was how “white male” its TV shows are in terms of showrunners and lead actors. While so much is made about “diversity” in casting and with showrunners, writers and directors for TV shows, the real question is:  how many CBS showrunners and top billed talent are women? And how many are paid the same as their white-male counterparts? Those questions need to be asked and answered more.  “Diversity” in hiring women and minorities is good, but let’s get equal pay and representation in there together.


Inspired by Dr. Phil’s early days as a legal adviser, CBS drama series BULL is about a psychologist who works as a trial consultant that advises on jury selection. Michael Weatherly stars as the character based on Dr. Phil.  As executive producer Mark Goffman explained, it is about a company who sets up “shadow juries,” where they find people just like those on a specific a jury and see how they behave. The intent is to not depict any actual jury-tampering.  BULL stars Michael Weatherly, Christopher Jackson, Freddy Rodriguez, Geneva Carr, and Annabelle Attanasio.  (Impression: Surprised by how much I enjoyed CBS’ new drama BULL as much as I did. So I am going to give it a chance to earn spot on my TV watch-list.)  BULL premieres Tuesday, September 20, 2016.


CBS’ new drama series PURE GENIUS is about hope and medical innovation as science pushes boundaries to achieve miracles.  Executive producer Jason Katims said that he created the fictional Bunker Hill medical facility as place where the best idea wins, and doctors communicate and exchange ideas.  Katims also said that in every episode, there are dramatic stakes involving a medical story, ethical ambiguity, and differing ideas and perspectives about the right thing to do, as well as the interactions with the outside world involving regulation and oversight. From his perspective, Dermot Mulroney said that: “The underlying truth of PURE GENIUS is not the blood, guts and terminology, it is what we are feeling and experiencing.” Jason Katims then added:  “What makes this show interesting is how these characters connect. It’s about the human story behind them. . . and it is important to make sure the science feels real and it’s not sci-fi.” PURE GENIUS stars Augustus Prew, Dermot Mulroney, Odette Annable, Reshma Shetty, Ward Horton, Brenda Song, and Aaron Jennings.  (Impression:  With Jason Katims as executive producer, I am looking forward to seeing if show can find a hook that keeps me tuning in. The pilot set up an interesting world, but has not hooked me yet. I feel that I need a reason to care more about the characters. So it may take a few episodes to see where the show goes.)  PURE GENIUS premieres Thursday, October 27, 2016.


CBS’ new courtroom drama is a light-weight case of the week look at quirky cases in the legal system. DOUBT stars Katherine Heigl, Dule Hill, Dreama Walker, Steven Pasquale, and Elliot Gould.  (Impression: I did not buy into the idea that Katherine Heigl’s character fell for her client played by Steven Pasquale and the lack of that significant connection made the show seem less engaging.  I did, however, highly enjoy the storylines with the rest of the characters and hope the show emphasizes those characters and stories more.)   DOUBT is currently scheduled as a midseason premiere.


CBS’ reboot of the classic MACGYVER series introduces a new cast and new ways to create ingenious things with everyday things at your fingertips to get out of sticky situations.  MACGYVER stars Lucas Till, George Eads, Sandrine Holt, Justin Hire and Tristin Mays.  As a nod to the previous show also called MACGYVER, the producers have reached out to Richard Dean Anderson to see if he wants to appear as a guest-star on the new version of the show.  (Impression: Not having seen the new pilot, this video interview with Lucas Till and George Eads is what got me interested in the show: )  CBS smartly scheduled MACGYVER for Fridays at 8 p.m. leading into HAWAII FIVE-O and BLUE BLOODS starting September 23, 2016.


CBS proudly announced that its OTT streaming/online service known as “CBS All Access” has been available for 2 years now.  In fact, it claims that SVOD usage is exploding and that both SVOD and DVR penetration is now at 50%, and what is driving OTT and SVOD subscriptions is original content.  So in an effort to meet that growing demand, CBS All Access will be available on PS4 and Xbox One by the end of the current quarter.  Right now, CBS All Access usage reflects that 70% viewership watches current VOD or “live,” with another 10% watching TV shows from its past library, and another 20% watching past-VOD.  CBS All Access has 7,500 on-demand episodes of its TV shows and is adding another 1,000 episodes by the end of the year.

CBS anticipates that THE GOOD WIFE spinoff will debut on CBS All Access in Spring 2017 starring Cush Jumbo, Christine Baranski and a few more cast members from original series.

Upcoming originals:

Fall 2016 – BIG BROTHER (digital edition)
January 2017 – STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (13 episodes for Season 1)
Spring 2017 – THE GOOD WIFE spinoff (10 episodes for season 1)

It should be noted that CBS anticipates that expects 15 million viewers will be tuning in to watch the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series on CBS All Access. It said that a record 78 million people watched STAR TREK, when it was on cable and syndication, and over 1 billion social media impressions are made talking about STAR TREK every month across Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Point of contention:

CBS All Access has commercial ads on current and recent TV shows.  So why would any viewer pay a monthly subscription fee for CBS All Access, if they have to still watch ads and commercials?!  That just smacks of double-dipping on CBS’ part. Though CBS, perhaps noting how unfavorably ads/commercials were received on Hulu, CBS is considering a commercial-free option for CBS All Access subscribers.


By far the biggest announcement coming out of the Q&A with executive producer Bryan Fuller was the fact that STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will have a female lead — but she does not hold the rank of captain; instead she will be a Lt. Commander.  As the lead of the show, the story will be told from her point-of-view.  The female lead has not been cast yet, but they are in the process of casting.   Another exciting reveal was that the show is set in the Prime universe, about 10 years before Kirk’s 5 year mission which bridges the gap between ENTERPRISE and the original series.  The show will her a serialized first season with closed-end stories in each weekly chapter/episode.  Bryan Fuller admitted that he intends to lean heavily on diverse casting in order to remain true to Roddenberry’s “utopian” view, in addition, there will be new, exciting aliens and re-imaginings of existing aliens — and to go further into what it is like to meet an alien who’ is different from from us. He also coyly said that it is “not impossible that Black Ops Section 31 could come into play” at some point during the series.  When further questioned if it is set around the Romulan war, he cheekily replied: “Close, but no banana.”  He also revealed that Amanda Grayson (previously portrayed by Winona Ryder) could appear in the series eventually. Right now, in addition to airing on CBS All ACCESS (which requires a monthly fee) and for those not in the U.S., STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will be available on Netflix.  (Also working on the series with Fuller are former ROSWELL-writers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts.)  STAR TREK: DISCOVERY premieres January 2017 on CBS All Access.

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 15 of the Summer 2016 Television Critics Association Tour.  As a reminder: be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming new series and specials as you do not want to miss out on the next great TV show that everyone will be talking about.