Mark your calendars…the start of the new broadcast television season is Monday, September 24.
In the conclusion of my two-part fall 2018 new network series handicapping, this time I tackle the upcoming newbies on CBS, Fox and The CW. CBS sitcom "Murphy Brown" does not meet my definition of "new" because it is returning after a 20-year absence with four of the original castmembers. Nor does former ABC comedy "Last Man Standing," which Fox revived after a one year absence. But I do consider the reboots of "Magnum, PI" on CBS and "Charmed" on The CW as new, which both feature all-new casts.
Again, I take the same benchmarks into consideration: a) the show’s premise, b) the network it airs on (and what the traditional demographic skew for that platform is), c) the network competition, d) the lead-in (if not an 8 p.m. ET show), e) the recent time period history, f) the potential interest in social media, and g) the critical acclaim (or lack of). It never hurts to have the critics on your side.
Let’s start with CBS.
"The Neighborhood" (Monday 8 p.m.) – Debut date: Oct. 1
Premise: Cedric the Entertainer plays an opinionated neighbor in a comedy about what happens when the friendliest guy in the Midwest moves his family to a neighborhood in Los Angeles where not everyone looks like him or appreciates his personality. When Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield) and his family arrive from Michigan, they’re unfazed that their new dream home is located in a community quite different from their small town.
-Network Competition: "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "The Voice" (NBC), "The Resdent" (Fox), "Arrow" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "The Neigborhood" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 7-1
Known for its Monday night comedy brand, CBS goofed this season by taking a perfectly adequate sitcom, "Kevin Can Wait," and trying to morph it into "The King of Queens 2." So, along comes Cedric the Entertainer in this generic looking chuckler about what Archie Bunker might be like today had he been African American. While you have to applaud CBS for the added push on diversity next season, "The Neighborhood" faces an uphill battle opposite "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Voice." Chances are you will skip it.
"Happy Together" (Monday 8:30 p.m.) – Debut date: Oct. 1
Premise: Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West play a 30-something happily married couple who begin to reconnect with their younger and cooler selves when Cooper (Felix Mallard), an exuberant young pop star drawn to their super-ordinary suburban life, unexpectedly moves in with them.
-Lead-in: "The Neighborhood"
-Network Competition: "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "The Voice" (NBC), "The Resdent" (Fox), "Arrow" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "Happy Together" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 7-1
Since lead-in still matters, the potential success, or lack of, for also uneventful "Happy Together" is heavily dependent on how "The Neighborhood," performs. With the expectations low for the Cedric the Entertainer comedy, keep them at a minimum as well for "Happy Together."
"Magnum, P.I." (Monday 9 p.m. ET) - Debut date: Sept. 24
Premise: In this modern take on the classic 1980-88 series, Jay Hernandez is featured as Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. Described as a charming rogue, an American hero and a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum has Juliet Higgins and her Dobermans to keep him in line, as well as his trusted buddies and fellow POW survivors TC and Rick when he needs back-up on a job.
-Lead-in: "Happy Together"
-Network Competition: "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "The Voice" (NBC), "9-1-1" (Fox), "D.C’s Legends of Tomorrow" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "Magnum P.I." (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 6-1
Considering the former success of the concept, CBS would have wiser to open Monday with the new "Magnum, P.I." instead of positioning it after two unproven comedies. With much of the audience already commited to competing "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Voice," would they really grab the remote in the middle of both competitions for this reboot? I am leaning towards no.
With Alex O’Laughlin potentially exiting "Hawaii Five-O" after next season, CBS might benefit if it moved "Magnum, P.I." into the more protected Friday 9 p.m. hour. Out of "MacGyver" and into "Blue Bloods" would be a better fit.
"FBI" (Tuesday 9 p.m. ET) - Debut date: Sept. 25
Premise: From producer Dick Wolf and the team behind the "Law & Order" franchise, "FBI" is a fast-paced drama about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These first-class agents bring their talents, intellect and technical expertise to investigate important cases — including terrorism, organized crime and counterintelligence — in order to keep New York and the country safe.
"FBI" stars Missy Peregrym as Maggie Bell, Zeeko Zaki as Omar Adom "OA" Zidan, Jeremy Sisto as Jubal Valentine, and Ebonée Noel as Kristen Chazal.
-Network Competition: "black-ish" and "Splitting Up Together" (ABC), "This Is Us" (NBC), "Lethal Weapon" (Fox), "D.C’s Legends of Tomorrow" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "FBI" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 1-1
NBC’s "This Is Us" owns the hour in all the key young adult demographics, of course. Nothing can compete. But airing out of "NCIS" and into "NCIS: New Orleans" all but guarantees an ample audience size for "FBI." While the critics won’t notice, the older viewers will. And, let’s face it…the over age 50 audience should still matter for networks and advertisers. Consider "FBI" a sure thing.
"God Friended Me" (Sunday 8 p.m. ET) - Debut date: Sept. 30 (opening episodes begins at 8:30 p.m. ET in week one)
Premise: "God Friended Me" stars Brandon Micheal Hall in this uplifting drama about Miles Finer (Hall), an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him. After repeated pokes by God, Miles’ curiosity takes over, and he accepts the ultimate friend request and follows the signs to Cara Bloom (Violett Beane), an online journalist. Brought together by the "God Account," the two find themselves investigating God’s friend suggestions and inadvertently helping others in need.
-Lead-in: "60 Minutes"
-Network Competition: "Dancing With the Stars Juniors" (ABC), "Sunday Night Football (NBC), "The Simpsons" and "Bob’s Burgers" (Fox), "Supergirl" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "God Friended Me" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 5-1
Out of "60 Minutes," former time period occupant "Touched by an Angel" ultimatelly enjoyed a nine season run. So, it makes sense for CBS to try to re-capitalize on the feel-good God-themed formula. But with faith comes seasoning; the audience skew for "God Friended Me" will clearly be older. Nevertheless, if success was determined soley by the audience size, "God Friended Me" would have a good chance.
"The Cool Kids" (Friday 8:30 p.m. ET) - Debut date: Sept. 28
Premise: From executive producer Charlie Day ("It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), "The Cool Kids" is a multi-camera comedy about a rag-tag group of friends living in a retirement community who are willing to break every rule in order to have fun – because, at their age, what do they really have to lose? The series stars four comedy veterans: David Alan Grier ("The Carmichael Show"), Martin Mull ("Veep"), Leslie Jordan ("Will and Grace") and Vicki Lawrence ("Mama’s Family," "The Carol Burnett Show").
-Lead-in: "Last Man Standing"
-Network Competition: "Speechless" (ABC), "MacGyver" (CBS), "Blindspot" (NBC), "Dynasty" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "The Cool Kids" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 5-1
By the traditional Nielsen ratings, Fox is never a force to reckon with in the live action sitcom department. But "The Cool Kids" looks particularly compatible out of "Last Man Standing" (which is likely to get respectable initial sampling following its return). The chemistry between the actors in the pilot looks clearly promising. And on a night where most of the young demographics are ringing in the new weekend, those older viewers that the advertisers and the networks should care about could very well give "the Cool Kids" a shot. Now, if only Vicki Lawrence revived her alter ago, Thelma "Mama" Harper, "The Cool Kids" would really have a shot!
"Rel" (Sunday 9:30 p.m. ET) - Previewed on Sunday, Sept. 9; Debuts in time period on Sept. 30
Premise: Inspired by the life of Lil Rel Howery ("Get Out"), Rel is a multi-camera comedy starring Howery as a loving husband and father living in Chicago, who finds out his wife is having an affair, and must rebuild his life as a single father, following his divorce. The comedy also stars Sinbad ("A Different World"), Jess "Hilarious" Moore ("Wild ’N Out") and Jordan L. Jones ("NCIS: Los Angeles").
-Lead-in: "Family Guy"
-Network Competition: "Shark Tank" (ABC), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS), Sunday Night Football (NBC), "Charmed" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "Rel" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 9-1
Given the ongoing slippage for Fox in the animated sitcom department, there is no reason to expect "Family Guy" to offer many viewers into "Rel." Opposite football on NBC, chances of anyone finding this new live action comedy is nil. Note to Fox: Comedies no longer work for you on Sunday.
"All American" (Wednesday 9 p.m. ET) - Debut date: Oct. 10
Premise: When a rising high school football player from South L.A. (Daniel Ezra) is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High, the wins, losses and struggles of two families from vastly different worlds -- Crenshaw and Beverly Hills -- begin to collide. "All American" is inspired by the life of pro football player Spencer Paysinger."
-Network Competition: "Modern Family" and "Single Parents" (ABC), "SEAL Team" (CBS), "Chicago Fire" (NBC), "Star" (Fox)
Odds of Survival for "All American" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 5-1
Let’s face it…no show on The CW ("The Flash" included) generates much interest based on the traditional Nielsen ratings. But lead-in "Riverdale" is a young demographic magnet in social media, and the compatibility between the two dramas looks spot-on. With social media a key benchmark for this network, "All American" does stand a chance. If I were The CW, I would heavily promote both "Riverdale" and "All American" together at the upcoming Comic Con gathering in New York in early October.
"Legacies" (Thursday 9 p.m. ET - Debut date: Oct. 25
Premise: Set in the same universe as "The Vampire Diaires" and "The Originals," "Legacies" follows Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose), the "tribid" daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall who is descended from some of the most powerful vampire, werewolf, and witch bloodlines. Two years after the events of "The Originals," 17-year-old Hope attends the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. The school provides a haven to learn how to to control these supernatural abilities and impulses
-Network Competition: "Station 19" (ABC), "Mom" and "Murphy Brown" (CBS), "Will & Grace" and "I Feel Bad" (NBC), Thursday Night Football (Fox)
Odds of Survival for "Legacies"" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 4-1
Given the appetite for vampires and werewolfs for the typical CW viewer, "Legacies" is compeletly compatible with its "Supernatural" lead-in (which is heading in season 14!). And it offers a different alternative to the competing comedies, drama "Station 19," and football. If social media is abuzz with interest, and there is a chance it will be, "Legacies" could find a long-term home on The CW.
"Charmed" (Sunday 9 p.m. ET - Debut date: Oct. 14
Premise: Set in the fictional college town of Hilltowne, this reboot of the original series focuses on three sisters (Macy Vaughn, Melonie Diaz and Sarah Jeffrey) who discover they have a gift. They are three of the world’s most powerful witches. They just didn’t know it until recently. With the help of their whitelighter mentor, they must learn about their newfound abilities to strengthen their sisterly bond and discover they are stronger together as the power of three facing off against the evils that lurk in the shadows.
-Network Competition: "Shark Tank" (ABC), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS), Sunday Night Football (NBC), "Family Guy" and "Rel" (CW)
Odds of Survival for "Charmed" (based on 1-1 to 10-1): 4-1
With The CW expanding to a sixth night, Sunday, the inherent obstacle is educating the audience about its expansion. Football-ignited NBC in fourth quarter, of course, is the networ to beat, while "Shark Tank" on ABC and "NCIS: Los Angeles" on CBS, not to mention, "Family Guy" on Fox will compete for the leftovers. If "Supergirl," now on Sunday, can maintain the young superhero fans, and personally I think it will, compatible "Charmed" has a good chance. Once again, Comic-Con in New York in early October offers a strong promotional tool.