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We are a month or so into television’s new fall season and networks are deciding which programs have made the cut.

CBS has ordered full seasons for all four of the channel’s new drama programs. “These four shows have had an immediate impact on our schedule by improving nights, winning time periods and adding more hours of success across our primetime line up,” said Nina Tassler, chairman, CBS Entertainment.

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Madam Secretary

Hooray! The show that I review each week for Entertainment Weekly‘s Community website is safe. It’s no form of escapism or mindless television watching, that’s for sure. The drama is jam-packed with political jargon and fast-paced storytelling. If you are tired or not in the mood to attend closely, this show will not be for you. But Madam Secretary is intriguing and filled with excellent performances. As long as you’re feeling focused, this show is one of the best new programs on television (this is coming from someone who specializes in television watching). And Téa Leoni is one of the most striking, captivating actresses on TV today.

The show’s average age is actual 63, the second oldest-skewing drama on broadcast TV (the first being CBS’s Blue Bloods). Madam averages 13.5 million viewers but is not clicking with the majority of television watchers. Its Sunday time slot is greatly improved for total audience compared to The Amazing Race in the same hour last year, but is still taking a hit in the demo.

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Scorpion

This show about genius savants who solve crimes is averaging 15.17 million viewers, and has a hearty 3.6 rating among adults 18-49. That made picking it up for a full season a no-brainer for CBS. But the show has had The Big Bang Theory as a lead-program, one of the most popular shows on television. It will be interesting to see how the show fares once CBS Mondays no longer start with a Bang, since the hit comedy is moving back to Thursdays this week. When I watched the pilot, Scorpion didn’t do it for me. But I should definitely give the show a second viewing.

Crescent City

NCIS: New Orleans

Also an easy decision for the network, as the show gets a whopping 18.16 million viewers and a 2.8 in the demo. I have never watched any of the NCIS programs but Scott Bakula and the awesome backdrop of N’awlins? No surprised the show is a success.

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Stalker

If there’s a surprise in the CBS pickups, it’s this show, as its performance has been modest and critics were tough on it. The violent crime drama has averaged 9.5 million viewers, not a big number. But it makes a great companion to the network’s long running crime show Criminal Minds. Plus the two leads, Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q, are talented, easy on the eyes, and probably perfect in the show (I haven’t seen this one either).

Also, NBC has decided to give a full season order to…

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 1

The Mysteries of Laura

Despite the fact that critics and viewers alike have ripped this show to shreds, NBC has decided to give The Mysteries of Laura a complete 22-episode first season. “Debra has effortlessly infused Laura with a relatability that is captivating audiences,” said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “We can’t wait to see how Laura will continue to evolve throughout the entire season.”

Many observers figured Laura was a good candidate to be the first canceled series of the season. Critics didn’t like the pilot, and the show’s Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot has been struggling on NBC for years. But Mysteries did better than its modest expectations, averaging 10.4 million viewers and a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49.

Personally, I like it and defend it when I can. Comments I’ve read from critics and have been told from people  include that the show is scattered, i.e. it doesn’t know if it wants to be a cop drama or a comedy. Another comment is how the basis of the show is insulting – how it is dang near impossible for a woman to succeed at being a mother and a working woman!! Also insulting – how her ex becomes her boss. Infuriating!

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But Debra Messing is a TV pro and she nails the role. Laura is impressive in her detective skills while being goofy and charming. Messing is likable, no matter what pisses you off about the show. With someone of lesser talent in the role? Yeah, it might have been a crapfest. But it is fantastic to again watch Messing on TV every week and I think the rest of the show is good too! The supporting cast is great and as far as the ex? Josh Lucas is manipulating and charming and infuriating at times, just as he is supposed to be. But he pines to get Laura back and is turning out to be a great captain of their police department. Also, I am not a mother so maybe that is why the whole “shucks-it’s-hard-to-do-both” aspect of the show doesn’t really bother me much. But that’s also because this show is NOT supposed to be taken seriously. It is definitely an hourlong cop comedy, not a drama, and Messing holds down the fort wonderfully. I, for one, will be watching the show’s now- 22 episode season.

Congrats to these programs!

 

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