upfronts 2012

The Seven Things We Learned at the CBS Upfront

CBS’s upfront presentation today had the glamor and swagger you’d expect from the most stable, popular network — but aspects of the ceremony also had that profound unhipness that’s CBS’s weakness. LL Cool J rapping a number with the line “CBS is a phenomenon,” accompanied by soprano Danielle de Niese? It’s not uncool exactly, though it did feel a little awkward when LL demanded people throw their hands up. What else did we learn, other than that advertisers are disinclined to throw their hands up when told to?

1. CBS President of Network Sales Joann Ross Is a Good Sport
The presentation included a 2 Broke Girls bit that found Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs running onstage, in character-costume and distributing cupcakes. They were greeted by Ross — in her own 2 Broke Girls waitress uniform. Cheeky! She delivered her whole sales pitch in costume.

2. It’s Time to Retire “Sexy And I Know It”
We get it, it’s sassy. But using its hook as a the closing moments of a segment feels about as fresh — and only half as fun — as using the “bow bow” tones from Ferris Bueller.

3. It’s Not Our Imagination: Every Single Drama on CBS Is a Cop, Lawyer, or Investigator Show
All of them.

4. It’s Not Our Imagination: Every Single Comedy Is Super-White
Kunal Nayyar on Big Bang Theory is the only person of color with a substantive role on a CBS comedy. (Matthew Moy and Garrett Morris do not have substantive roles on 2 Broke Girls, no matter what Michael Patrick King says.)

5. Somebody in the Graphics and Animation Department Deserves a Raise
By far the coolest part of CBS’s presentation was a jazzy little cartoon at the beginning that had Saul Bass–style illustrations for each of the shows, and plucky acoustic covers of their theme songs. Is CBS not aware of the Internet’s love of “minimalist” posters? Please post this video, someone.

6. Being Superman Doesn’t Mean Much
Was it really that long ago that Brandon Routh was the Man of Steel? Now he’s a secondary character on the upcoming multicamera comedy Partners, where he plays Michael Urie’s nurse boyfriend.

7. Vegas Doesn’t Belong on CBS
Six multicamera comedies, twelve crime procedurals, a few veteran reality contest shows, and one star-powered drama set in the sixties, staring Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid. One of these things  is not like the others.

The Seven Things We Learned at the CBS Upfront