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May 22, 2012 - 7:20pm

Upfronts 2012 (Part 5 of 5): CBS brings a new Sherlock to the block

BY KAYLA UPADHYAYA

CBS

Every spring, the major television networks present their fall and midseason schedules to potential advertisers at their upfronts. Senior Arts Editor Kayla Upadhyaya takes a look at the new series coming to CBS.

CBS will be bringing just four new dramas and two new comedies to their primetime lineup next television season. The network has great expectations to meet next fall, having finished out this year as the highest viewed network and their numbers going up in just about every key demographic.

“Vegas” and “Elementary” are the network’s biggest plays, with easily recognizable stars like Lucy Liu and Dennis Quaid backed by solid pilot scripts.

CBS’s new comedies don’t appear to have quite as much potential, but that probably won’t stop people from watching them. Certain CBS comedies that shall remain nameless garner undeservedly off-the-charts ratings (cough, cough “The Big Bang Theory” cough, cough).

Previously on Upfronts 2012: A look at upcoming shows from NBC, FOX, ABC and the CW.

“Vegas”

Quick Facts: Based on a true story, “Vegas” — created by Greg Walker (“Three Rivers”) and Nicholas Pileggi (“Goodfellas”) and directed by James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma”) — revolves around Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid, “Vantage Point”), a rancher who becomes a crime-fighting cowboy-sheriff and unites the police force and the sheriff’s office to keep the varied, threatening criminals of 1960s Vegas at bay. Jason O’Mara (“Life on Mars”), Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”), James Russo (“Public Enemies”) and Michael O’Neill (“The West Wing”) star alongside Quaid.

Reasons to Watch: It’s a western period piece that promises action and drama, and the cast is outstanding. Comparisons to “Justified” will be inevitable, but there’s certainly enough room for a new cowboy on television, and Lamb appears to be more of a bold leader type than loner Raylan Givens.

Cause for Concern: Since “Vegas” finds its home on network television and not cable, it probably won’t be as bloody and vulgar as some western-action fans might want.

“Elementary”

Quick Facts: Jonny Lee Miller (“Dexter”) stars as the familiar detective Holmes, portrayed here as a recovering addict who moves to Manhattan and teams up with addiction specialist Jane Watson (Lucy Liu, “Southland”) to solve crimes the NYPD can’t seem to crack. The series was created by Robert Doherty (“Medium”).

Reasons to Watch: Yes, there’s already a BBC television series that serves as a modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original tales, but the outcry from the “Sherlock” fandom that this show will somehow undermine, threaten or plagiarized their beloved program is utterly ridiculous. “Elementary” is a very different take on the story, and it looks like a damn good series that need not be prematurely scrutinized just because it looks vaguely familiar. Plus, a female Watson played by none other than Lucy Liu? This series is easily at must-watch status.

Cause for Concern: But alas, “Sherlock” fans will probably remain militant.

“Partners”

Quick Facts: Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”) and David Krumholtz (“Numbers”) star as male architects and platonic friends — one gay, the other straight — Charlie and Louis. Brandon Routh (“Chuck”), Molly Shannon (“Saturday Night Live”) and Sophia Bush (“One Tree Hill”) also star in this multi-cam comedy created by “Will & Grace” dream team David Kohan and Max Mutchnick.

Reasons to Watch: Michael Urie back in a regular role on television? Say no more!

Cause for Concern: The trailer is more charming than hilarious, but at least it doesn’t appear to be as preachy and stereotype-ridden as NBC’s “The New Normal.”

“Made in Jersey”

Quick Facts: From creator Dana Calvo (“Greek”), showrunner Kevin Falls (“The West Wing”) and director Mark Waters (“Mean Girls”) comes a legal drama about Martina Garretti (Janet Montgomery, “Entourage”), an attorney who uses her Jersey street smarts to beat out the uptight, refined lawyers of Manhattan.

Reasons to Watch: Great suits, fabulous hair, a fair share of sassy courtroom zingers.

Cause for Concern: Beneath those surface-level details, it doesn’t look like “Made in Jersey” has much to offer other than a string of legal drama tropes and Jersey stereotypes.

“Friend Me” (midseason)

Quick Facts: “Friend Me” is a new comedy created by Alan Kirschenbaum (“Raising Hope”) and newbie Ajay Sahgal that stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Kick-Ass”) and Nicholas Braun (“10 Things I Hate About You”) as Evan and Rob, two innovative best friends who move from the midwest to the west coast for their new jobs at Groupon. The move to LA places a strain on their friendship, and Rob struggles to motivate Evan to stop playing online poker with their friends back in Indiana and get out of the house.

Reasons to Watch: If the success of “The Social Network” and the enduring prevalence of that one Best Buy commercial are any indication, people sure do love innovative, young white dudes. The title alone might be enough to draw in viewers, even though it’s a bit misleading … you can’t friend people on Groupon!

Cause for Concern: CBS doesn’t exactly have the best luck with website-to-tv-series transitions. See: “$h*! My Dad Says.”

“Golden Boy” (midseason)

Quick Facts: Young cop Walter William Clark Jr. (Theo James, “Downton Abbey”) becomes a detective and town hero after breaking up a notorious drug ring. Always the ladder climber, Clark begins to make enemies at the police station as his co-workers intend to take down the lucky golden boy. The project was created by Nicholas Wootton (“Chuck”) and is directed by Richard Shepard (“Girls”) and executive produced by Greg Berlanti (“Brothers & Sisters”).

Reasons to Watch: The series is told from two perspectives: Clark in the present and Clark in 2019. Alternating timeframes can be a fun and engaging way of telling a story, and I’m a sucker for flashback/flashforward narrative devices.

Cause for Concern: “Golden Boy” seems more character-driven than suspense or action-driven, so the time-jump gimmick might not add that extra layer of intrigue as it does in a show like “Damages.”


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