This February marked the 10th anniversary of CBS’ overnight transformation into a major player on Thursday with the successful relocation there of Survivor and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But, after nine and a half seasons, Survivor was pulled from the Thursday 8 PM slot at the beginning of this season, when CBS opened a comedy block on the night anchored by The Big Bang Theory. Will CBS continue the rejuvenation of its Thursday lineup by replacing longtime anchor CSI this year? As usual, CBS is mum on its scheduling plans, but the buzz is that this may be the year that CSI vacates TV’s most lucrative night. CBS laid the groundwork for such a move last year. With the very risky decision to uproot red-hot Monday comedy The Big Bang Theory to Thursday to launch a comedy block, the network understandably opted for stability on the rest of the night, keeping its 9-11 PM drama block of CSI and The Mentalist intact. But now that the network has established a foothold on the night with Big Bang, it can focus on rebuilding the rest of the lineup, most importantly, addressing the continuous ratings decline of CSI, which hit several series lows this season. Also helping the case for a change is the fact that neither of the other Big 4 made a move at 9 PM, leaving three aging shows — ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Fox’s Bones and NBC’s The Office — vulnerable to assault by an upstart.
CBS has a number of options for the 9 PM slot. Because it has only picked up two new comedy series so far, expanding the comedy block to two hours is probably not one of them. But younger shows like The Mentalist, which was tested once in the time period last season but couldn’t improve on CSI‘s performance, NCIS: LA, Hawaii Five-0 or the unscripted Undercover Boss could be viable candidates. Slotting a new series in the hour is also a possibility, though networks have had more success with transplanting there shows that already have built momentum elsewhere. As for the CSI franchise, last year CBS pulled the two spinoff series, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, out of their Monday and Wednesday 10 PM positions, respectively, leaving the mothership (and oldest) CSI series as the only one in its longtime (and prominent) slot. It would be symbolic if CSI moves back to Fridays 9 PM where it originally launched, just like Survivor last year was sent back to its original Wednesday 8 PM time period.
Meanwhile, of CBS’ two new comedies — Two Broke Girls, which has two female leads, and How To Be a Gentleman, which has two male leads — Two Broke Girls seems compatible with both The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, while How To Be a Gentleman would go nicely with Two and a Half Men.