TV Upfront

CBS Puts 'Supergirl' Up Against 'Gotham,' Ends the Original 'CSI' After 15 Seasons

'CSI' and 'Survivor' Helped Establish a Dominant Run for the Network

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Melissa Benoist as 'Supergirl,' coming to CBS this season.
Melissa Benoist as 'Supergirl,' coming to CBS this season. Credit: CBS

When CBS takes flight with "Supergirl" this fall, there's a good chance viewers may at some point get an eyeful of Kara Zor-El's cousin, Kal-El. (In case you grew up in a pop cultural Fortress of Solitude, that's the alter ego of the guy with the big "S" on his chest.)

According to CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler, the rules of the DC Comics universe more or less keep the door open for the occasional appearance by Superman, in or out of costume.

As much as the possibility of the odd Man of Steel look-in should keep the fanboys in a lather, "Supergirl" obviously will live or die on the strength of the titular character. As Ms. Tassler characterizes her, Kara is "a hero we can root for," a young woman who is only now "embracing her potential" as a crime fighter.

When she's not saving the world, Supergirl must contend with the demands of her hard-charging boss (Calista Flockhart) while testing the romantic waters with her new colleague at the Daily Planet, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Other familiar faces include Dean Cain, who played the man in the blue tights on ABC's "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," and Helen Slater, star of the 1984 theatrical "Supergirl."

"Supergirl" will bow in early November, after CBS's Thursday night NFL schedule winds down and "The Big Bang Theory" and new comedy "Life in Pieces" move out of the Monday 8 p.m. time slot. Interestingly enough, the show will compete directly with its fellow DC Comics adaptation, "Gotham."

When asked about the upcoming superhero battle, Kelly Kahl, senior exec VP-CBS prime time, joked, "Look I haven't seen a cape on 'Gotham' yet." Mr. Kahn went on to add that CBS is approaching "Supergirl" as a "much broader show -- it isn't just a comic book show. We hope to be able to attract all demos with 'Supergirl.'"

"Supergirl" is one of three new dramas to find a home on CBS's fall schedule, joining techno-thriller "Limitless" and the medical drama "Code Black." Based on the Bradley Cooper movie of the same title, "Limitless" inherits the Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot from "Person of Interest," which is being held for midseason. An executive producer on the project, Mr. Cooper will also appear in the pilot episode.

"Limitless" will compete directly with Neil Patrick Harris's NBC variety show and ABC's "Quantico," making the 10 p.m. broadcast hour all-new across the board.

"Code Black" assumes the Wednesday 10 p.m. slot formerly occupied by the canceled "Stalker" and the returning "CSI: Cyber." It will go head-to-head with ABC's "Nashville" and NBC's "Chicago PD."

While CBS's schedule is largely stable, the Thursday night lineup has been shaken up a bit. The network has moved the peripatetic Chuck Lorre comedy "Mom" to the 9 p.m. slot, where it will lead out of "Life in Pieces" and into "Angel From Hell." Ms. Tassler's kicker for "Angel," which stars Jane Lynch, is a corker: "What if your guardian angel had a tendency to day-drink?"

Another notable feature of the new CBS roster is the Monday all-drama format, which kicks in upon the launch of "Supergirl." According to Mr. Kahl, the last time CBS failed to air a comedy on Monday nights was 1949.

Midseason premieres include the "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" and "Rush Hour."

CBS will also bid farewell to its landmark procedural "CSI," which leaves the fold after a 15-season run. The network on Sept. 27 will air a special two-hour movie featuring former cast members William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger.

"We're actually a little misty eyed about this one," Ms. Tassler said, noting that like "Survivor," "CSI" was instrumental in establishing CBS as the dominant network.

Speaking after CBS unveiled its fall schedule at Black Rock, its Manhattan headquarters, CBS Corp. Chairman-CEO Les Moonves said that in its heyday, "CSI" was such a huge success that it actually frustrated some metro police departments.

"I've been told by more than one politician, including the governor of Massachusetts, that 'CSI' hurt their ability to close murder cases, because people expected that they would be resolved in an hour," Mr. Moonves said. "So it's had a big influence."

CBS's Fall 2015-16 Schedule (New programs in UPPER CASE)

8-8:30 P.M. — "The Big Bang Theory"**
8:30-9 P.M. — "LIFE IN PIECES"**
9-10 P.M. — "Scorpion"
10-11 P.M. — "NCIS: Los Angeles"

8-9 P.M. — "NCIS"
9-10 PM. — "NCIS: New Orleans"
10-11 P.M. — "LIMITLESS"

8-9 P.M. — "Survivor"
9-10 P.M. — "Criminal Minds"
10-11 P.M. — "CODE BLACK"

8-11 P.M. — "Thursday Night Football"***

8-9 P.M. — "The Amazing Race"
9-10 P.M. — "Hawaii Five-0"
10-11 P.M. — "Blue Bloods"

8-9 P.M. — "Crimetime Sunday" (encores)
9-10 P.M. — "Crimetime Sunday" (encores)
10-11 P.M. — "48 Hours"

7-8 P.M. — "60 Minutes"
8-9 P.M. — "Madam Secretary"
9-10 P.M. — "The Good Wife"
10-11 P.M. — "CSI: Cyber"

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