Ben Reilly Happens While You're Busy Making Other Plans

Friday, September 24, 2010

$#*! CBS Taught Me Last Night

I'm kind of ambivalent about the new Fall lineup for Thursday.

For one thing, I liked The Big Bang Theory right where it was. CBS' Monday night lineup lost momentum with the shift to Mike & Molly, a decent enough pilot that still suffered by comparison. It felt like following up three headliners with the warm-up act.

But I can see the logic behind the shake-up, because I'm still into CBS Monday but they blew the lid off my NBC Thursday. When it came to TV, I was like the guy who wouldn't let the entree touch the side dish. There was CBS Monday Night, ABC Wednesday Night, and NBC Thursday. I'm not opposed to channel surfing, but my sensibilities just grativated toward one-channel, one night last year.

So I sacrificed Community to watch Big Bang Theory last night. It was a little stressful, sure, but only as much as sacrificing a pawn to capture a queen. The real problem came with the 7:30 Central matchup. There's no question in my mind that 30 Rock is the best NBC comedy out there. The Office has been sinking for a while, but 30 Rock gets better every season. So what could CBS possibly counter with?

I didn't think Bleep! would be anywhere close to 30 Rock quality, but I figured it was worth a shot just to see Shatner in his first sitcom. I was right on both counts. And that's left me feeling even more ambivalent about Thursday nights.

Bleep! was pretty much everything you'd expect when you've got that kind of talent experimenting with a new format. Shatner occassionally blew some of the better lines with awkward delivery, but he single-handedly saved the weaker material, too. I laughed out loud more than I expected. The emotional core, an aging absentee father trying to reconnect with his son, is solid. If Bleep! can find the proper balance between cariacture and real human emotion, I suspect we'll see a second season.

"#$* it Jim, I'm a doctor, not a !@# network censor!"

Where does that leave Thursday? I'm not ready to say. But one thing I am sure of: CBS came out a winner for shaking things up. Sure, I'd have been happier if they'd left well enough alone on Monday night. But CBS is in the business of keeping audiences engaged, not comfortable. They didn't lose me Monday, and they might just have gained me Thursday.

And that's $#*! CBS taught me last night.

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