upfronts 2013

The 7 Things We Learned at the CBS Upfront

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/CBS

For a network with only a few new shows, CBS really dragged out the proceedings this afternoon at its network upfront. Sure, they have plenty to crow about — number one in this, number one in that, most viewers — but jeez Louise, this could have been a little more fun. The show opened with a cute Les Miz number from the cast of How I Met Your Mother (“One Year More”), took a turn for the deeply boring, and then finally introduced the network’s handful of new comedies and dramas. Along the way, a few pieces of knowledge managed to make their way to our brains.

1. If only The Crazy Ones could get Kelly Clarkson every week.
The show stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father-daughter advertising team, and the singer guest-stars in the first episode, milking a silly song about sex and meat for laughs, but also showing off her powerful pipes in a real number later. Williams is great, Gellar is iffy, but we’d be fully onboard if Clarkson were a regular.

2. Robin Williams also delivered the line of the night.
On today’s assortment of programming, he said there was Food Network for foodies and ESPN for sports fans. “And if a little child wants to be transported to the Land of Make-Believe, there’s Fox News.” He also had a pretty great rant about the cocaine-fueled green-lighting process of the seventies.

3. Margo Martindale left The Americans to make fart jokes.
That’s the sound of a critic’s heart breaking, but The Millers — with Martindale as Will Arnett’s mother — got huge laughs in the room. Martindale makes a series of fart jokes, gets in a fight with newly estranged husband Beau Bridges about how he masturbates incorrectly (“who holds it like that?”), and then does the dance from Dirty Dancing with Arnett. We will miss you, Grandma.

4. Whatever dark side Dylan McDermott tapped into on American Horror Story is alive and well. And on Hostages.
Maybe not quite as evil, but McDermott plays an FBI agent who takes a surgeon (Toni Collete) and her family (including husband Tate Donovan) hostage until she can assassinate the president during a scheduled surgery. And then things get even more bonkers! If Hostages is half as good as its promo reel, we’re in luck.

5. Mom might not be the sure bet it looked like.
Chuck Lorre, Anna Faris, Allison Janney, and a really promising pilot script: This should be a lock. And yet the clip just did not go over well. Not that the upfronts’ in-house audience is a great barometer, but that was not the response we were expecting.

6. David Letterman gives good hug.
The late-night host made a surprise appearance onstage, greeting boss and CBS honcho Les Moonves with a warm, never-ending embrace. For a moment, we were worried: Carson announced his retirement at an upfront, and Barbara Walters announced hers Monday, the day before the ABC presentation. But no, turns out Dave was just being grateful. CBS has kept his reign drama-free.

7. Jerry O’Connell will be as shirtless as possible in We Are Men.
The single-camera comedy stars O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn, and Chris Smith as single guys of various ages being good bros to one another, and O’Connell’s character appears to be the bro-iest and therefore also the most naked.

The 7 Things We Learned at the CBS Upfront