You know how it seems like there are about a million crime procedurals on CBS? Well, there basically are.That network’s number of such dramas grew to eight last night, when “Criminal Minds: Suspect behaviour,” starring Forest Whitaker, premiered to strong viewer numbers.
In other words, those shows now comprise more than half of CBS’s primetime programming (and that’s not including similar procedurals like “Blue Bloods,” “The Defenders” and “The Mentalist”).
There’s “CSI,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Criminal Minds,” and, now, “Criminal Minds: Suspect behaviour.” (Suspect behaviour? We suspect they’re running out of subtitle ideas.)
There’s a reason CBS keeps putting these programs on the air: they murder in the ratings (no pun intended). “American Idol” can beat them. “Glee” and “Modern Family” are starting to.
But over time, no other show or type of show has performed as well — and we won’t even talk about what happened when NBC tried to send Jay Leno into battle against them.
So how do they do it? Through a consistent formula.
This is where it all begins: a team of attractive, wisecracking, occasionally hotheaded crimefighters solve one mystery each week. And they aren't afraid to bend the rules a little doing it. And they never seem ready for the twist that inevitably comes. And the viewers go away happy.
People don't always think of these shows as groundbreaking, but they are when it comes to putting women on television and giving them role equality. Which leads us to our next point...
You can argue that other shows do as much for women as these. You can't argue that about minorities. CBS's crime dramas are far and away the most ethnically diverse programs on television -- and they make it look effortless.
The new 'Criminal Minds,' with actor's-actor Forest Whitaker, really takes this concept to a different level. But building buzz for a new procedural franchise around its central star is a practiced strategy at CBS. They've launched shows with Gary Sinise, LL Cool J, and Joe Mantegna, among others.
If Justin Bieber's saying yes to guesting (he'll be returning to 'CSI' Thursday night), who's saying no? Not Ne-Yo, Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian, that's for sure.
Why go to the trouble of promoting a new brand when you can borrow from an already-established one? 'CSI,' 'NCIS' and 'Criminal Minds' have all gotten spinoffs. Maybe 'The Mentalist,' another strong performer for the network, will be next.
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