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CBS: CSI Balloons — Sheesh!

So my colleague, Michael Prospero, seems to have gotten in on the act here with my fall TV preview obsession. That’s fine. Hell has already been paid here at FC Now headquarters in, yes, New York, crime show capital of the world. Let’s see if Mike has anything cogent to say about the rest of CBS’ new fall lineup! Let’s see if I do.

So my colleague, Michael Prospero, seems to have gotten in on the act here with my fall TV preview obsession. That’s fine. Hell has already been paid here at FC Now headquarters in, yes, New York, crime show capital of the world. Let’s see if Mike has anything cogent to say about the rest of CBS’ new fall lineup! Let’s see if I do.

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My friend Josh won’t forgive me if I don’t start with Listen Up, Mondays at 8:30. Based on the life and times of Tony Kornheiser, the Washington Post sports columnist and unlikely ESPN personality, Jason Alexander of George Constanza fame plays a popular sports columnist who doesn’t get any respect from his family. So has Tony Kornheiser based his life on Everybody Loves Raymond? Or did Ray Romano base his sitcom on Tony Kornheiser’s life?

Because this sounds a lot like Everybody Loves Raymond. (To be fair, the initial plan is to show more of Tony’s work life; Malcolm Jamal-Warner plays the Michael Wilbon character.) Of course, take out Tony’s profession and it could be every family sitcom that’s aired since 1974 (somewhere around the time that The Brady Bunch went off the air, dads took a big hit on the family reputation meter. Hugh Beaumont, we hardly knew ye).

With Listen Up airing right before Everybody Loves Raymond, you may very well be watching the same show twice in a row with two different casts. Which, come to think of it, is basically what CBS does with CSI but on different nights. They’re the exact same shows, with the same “characters,” but in different cities. (Special thanks to my girlfriend Carol for pointing that out re: CSI.) They’re travelogues…with gore. At least the Law & Order spawn on NBC have different themes and stuff. As far as the press knew, until yesterday, Listen Up was known as “the untitled Tony Kornheiser project.” Did CBS consider calling it Everybody Loves Tony? Or Everybody Loves Raymond: Maryland?

Perhaps I’m not being fair to CBS. Perhaps this is a glimpse of the future of television, kind of a spin on video on demand. Instead of waiting for everyone to have digital cable, what if we just populate our schedule with the same couple of shows and let people watch them when they want to? It’s genius, really. Eveyone gets the geographically appropriate version, like a newspaper in the suburbs. I can’t relate to the successful sportswriter with a bedraggled family life in Long Island. But if it was in suburban D.C…. I don’t like seeing violent crimes solved in some city I’ve never been to, like Miami, but if you put those killings in my hometown….

The “how dumb do they think we are?” mania continues! dr. Vegas, Fridays at 10, stars Rob Lowe and Joe Pantoliano in a show where Lowe plays “an unconventional physician” (on TV, there is no other kind, so doesn’t that make him a conventional TV physician?) who is the in-house doctor at a high-end casino run by Pantoliano. Let’s leave aside the seam-showing derivativeness of the concept (you know the pitch meeting went something like, “It’s Las Vegas meets ER!”), and consider that last season, CBS aired The Handler, Friday nights at 10, starring Joe Pantoliano! Viewers have already definitively said “We don’t want to watch Joe Pantoliano late on a Friday evening.” What more evidence does CBS need? Do they think we’re not going to notice? At least Rob Lowe’s failed show last year, Lyon’s Den, aired on Sundays.

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Up Next: Fox and UPN.

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