The endless glut of streaming services changed the game for many — but not all — traditional TV networks. Sure, most are feeling chillier than Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. But CBS is over here spending more money on all their damn shows like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. As reported by Variety, CBS gave a vote of confidence to all of its 2019-2020 freshmen series. The Eye Network gave a second season order to spooky crime drama Evil, and full episode orders for the first seasons of comedies The Unicorn, Bob Hearts Abishola, and Carol’s Second Act. Additionally, legal drama All Rise got a full season order.
Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, spoke highly of her network’s new shows:
These terrific new series have attracted a passionate base of viewers and consistent ratings while delivering entertaining, inclusive and relevant storytelling every week. They’re off to strong starts and are still being discovered on the many catch-up and playback options available to our viewers today. We’re proud of this freshman class and excited about their potential to tell more great stories and further expand their audiences.
Technically, Evil has the lowest ratings of CBS’ new batch. But that didn’t stop the network from giving their genre-skewing drama a second season vote of confidence, after its 13-episode first season finishes airing in 2020. The show, starring Katja Herbers (Westworld) and Mike Colter (Luke Cage) as a mismatched Mulder and Scully type, finds a misfit group of crime-solvers trying to stop a series of supernatural cases, which may be linked to an evil force played by Michael Emerson (Lost).
All Rise, CBS’ other freshman drama, centers all of its legal procedural action within the confines of the courtroom. Simone Missick (Luke Cage; CBS must’ve really loved Luke Cage!) stars as a freshly appointed judge, alongside Wilson Bethel (Daredevil; okay, so it’s just Netflix Marvel shows?) and Jessica Camacho (The Flash; close enough).
Moving to comedies, two of CBS’ new laughers feature CBS vets. Carol’s Second Act gives Patricia Heaton a second act following her stint on CBS hit Everybody Loves Raymond. She stars as a retired teacher who decides to become a doctor. Rounding out the cast is Ito Aghayere (Master of None), Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical), and Kyle MacLachlan (Portlandia). CBS also gave Bob Hearts Abishola a full season order, a multi-cam comedy from CBS multi-cam comedy maestro Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory). It’s a romcom of sorts, with the blue collar American Bob (Billy Gardell, Mike & Molly) attempting to woo the heart of his Nigerian immigrant nurse Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku, Transparent).
Perhaps more surprising is the full season order of The Unicorn, an atypically dark, single-camera comedy starring Walton Goggins (The Righteous Gemstones) as a recently widowed father trying to get back into the dating game. The cast also features hip comedy performers like Rob Corddry (Childrens Hospital) and Michaela Watkins (Casual). Maybe this, alongside the more acclaimed programming you see on the CBS All Access streaming service, represents the network’s move from down-the-middle crowd pleasers to more niche works. Or maybe CBS just wanted to renew all their damn shows.