A surprise: Older crimesolvers are welcome again

Right now, TV is going back to its future.
That’s almost 30 years back. That span connects “Murder, She Wrote” to “Elsbeth,” “Matlock” to … well, “Matlock.”
At the core is a key change: Broadcast networks were once ignoring older viewers; now they need them. Let’s go back to 1995, when:
— “Matlock” was canceled – again. NBC had dumped it after seven seasons; ABC took three more, then dropped it.
— “Murder She Wrote” was still thriving. In its 11th season, it was No. 8 in the Nielsen ratings; it reached the top-10 in seven other seasons, peaking at No. 4. But CBS moved it to an impossible timeslot, then cancelled it a year later. Read more…

CBS’ fall schedule: Stick with the steady viewers

As younger viewers drift away, TV networks pondered alternate solutions:
1) Go after them. Copy what the streaming networks are doing. Get guttier and grittier. Interweave some tough stories that stretch over eight or 10 hours.
2) Don’t chase them; they won’t be back anyway. Service the viewers you still have.
That second one has worked fairly well in the Nielsen ratings for CBS. Now it ripples through the play-it-safe line-up the network has announced for fall, including a “Matlock” reboot (shown here). Read more…

Elsbeth gets her Columbo moment

Waiting for the pandemic to end, Robert and Michelle King re-discovered a key fact: People like stories that end.
“Every night, we wanted to watch an episode of ‘Columbo,’” Robert said, “instead of the eight-hour movies that were thrown our way.”
So they created “Elsbeth” (shown here), the fun murder-mystery that debuts at 10 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 29) on CBS. It fits a pattern that works for CBS. Read more…

CBS sets post-strike surge for Feb. 11

One TV network now has an answer to viewers’ biggest question: When will the real season start?
For CBS, it starts Feb. 11. Over the next eight days, 17 shows will open their seasons, with a few more following soon.
Some people might have hoped for something quicker, now that the actors’ strike has been tentatively settled. But for CBS, this is all timed to the Super Bowl on Feb. 11.
That game will be followed by the debut of the Justin Hartley show “Tracker”; it’s one of only two new CBS shows this season, alongside “Elsbeth” (shown here). A week later, “Tracker” settles into a cozy Sunday slot between “Equalizer” (which drew a huge audience for its own post-Super-Bowl debut) and a transplanted “CSI: Vegas.” Read more…

CBS’ new (new-ish) line-up this fall adds just two shows

Facing the possibility of a long strike, CBS has a novel solution: It will start the fall season with virtually no new shows.
The line-up, announced today (Wednesday), has only two newcomers – a spin-off (shown here) of “The Good Fight” and a reboot of “Matlock,” this time with Kathy Bates in the Andy Griffith role.
Two other shows will arrive later: “Tracker,” starring Justin Hartley, will debut after the Super Bowl on Feb. 11; “Poppa’s House” is a comedy with Damon Wayans, Damon Wayan Jr. and Essence Atkins. Read more…