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Monday, January 12, 2015

RENEWAL ALERT: NCIS: New Orleans, Scorpion, Madam Secretary

At the Winter TCA Tour today, CBS announced early second season renewals for three hit freshmen dramas: NCIS: New Orleans, Scorpion, and Madam Secretary.

Even before it aired, NCIS: New Orleans was a pretty good bet for success. Nestled after the mothership in a slot that was so good to NCIS: Los Angeles for years and with another graying leading man in Scott Bakula, this was right in the CBS wheelhouse. It debuted to big numbers and is consistently the most watched new show on any network. The demos have been pretty solid most weeks except for when it has had to face The Voice and it just hit its best numbers since the series premiere. Expect it to be around for years to come.

Scorpion was a surprise hit out of the gate airing in a slot that had been comedies for CBS for decades. With a lead-in from The Big Bang Theory for several weeks, CBS gave it a strong chance to succeed and it did quite well despite middling reviews. It dipped for a bit when it got the awful The Millers as a lead-in, but things have gotten better again since The Millers was cancelled and Mike & Molly has stabilized the 8:30pm slot. Scorpion has fit in much better than I thought it would and it has rejuvenated CBS on Monday nights.

Madam Secretary was a big wildcard going into the season. Everyone knew it would skew old and early reviews were not as positive as a show going for prestige might have wanted. But it has been extremely strong in total viewers from day one and that has not wavered, even on weeks when it hasn't had a direct NFL lead-in. The show may not be an awards contender like The Good Wife, but it seems to be delivering the same upscale viewers that Wife does and the total viewer count this fall has been second only to New Orleans among new shows.

This has certainly been the best drama development season for CBS in years. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, there was just one new renewal each year (Person of Interest and Elementary). Last year, there were no drama renewals. This has led CBS's dramas to get older and older, but this year was a turnaround with three promising dramas for the long run. There was a fourth fall drama, Stalker, but its chances look quite slim especially with this news. Still premiering in the drama department are Battle Creek and CSI: Cyber in March.

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