CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- While its "Brotherhood" may have failed, CBS is quite high on the rest of its freshman class as the network has gone ahead and given full season 22-episode orders to newcomers "Two and a Half Men," "Navy N.C.I.S.," "Joan of Arcadia," "The Handler" and "Cold Case."
The news marks the best freshman success rate so far this season of the six major networks as only three other new series have received back nine orders ("All of Us" and "Eve" on UPN, "Las Vegas" on NBC). The pickup of "Cold Case" and "Joan" wasn't much a surprise as the Eye network ordered six additional scripts of each on October 17 (read the story). Both of have helped revitalize their respective time periods for CBS, Sundays and Fridays at 8:00/7:00c, routinely winning the hours for the network. As for "Men," the comedy is the most-watched new series overall this season among viewers, households and adults 18-49 not to mention holds an impressive 85% of lead-in "Everybody Loves Raymond's" audience on average.
Less impressive however have been the performances of fellow newcomers "Navy N.C.I.S." and "The Handler." "Navy" is off nearly 20% from its parent series "J.A.G." last season among total viewers (15.2 million vs. 12.3 million) and 13% among CBS' prized demographic of adults 25-54 (4.1/10 vs. 4.7/12) after four airings. Despite such numbers, it's hard to frown upon a new series opening a night with 12.3 million viewers on average.
As for "The Handler," the Joe Pantoliano-led drama has seen its numbers tumble almost 30% from its debut (12.6 million vs. 8.8 million) but has nevertheless remained 23% above last year's Friday, 10:00/9:00c entry "Robbery Homicide Division" (9.9 million vs. 7.6 million) in year-to-year comparisons.
The five back nine orders leave "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." as the only failure of CBS' freshman class. The Eye yanked the series indefinitely last week (read the story).