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CBS’s New Fall 2016 Shows: First Impressions
May 18, 2016  | By David Bianculli  | 4 comments

CBS is sending Supergirl up, up and away to sister network CW this fall, and adding three new dramas and three new comedies before the year is out. Most have a strong whiff of the familiar…

Like the other networks, CBS is saving some of its new shows for midseason – Doubt with Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox, and a sequel spinoff to the film Training Day, starring Bill Paxton. And sometime in 2017, CBS has slated an all-new series production of Star Trek, of which nothing is known, right now, but a very vague promotional video:

But for fall, it’s presenting new sitcoms starring Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc, and Joel McHale, and a slate of new dramas that includes a remake of MacGyver.

Comedies first. James’ return to sitcom land, after nine seasons on King of Queens, has him playing a just-retired cop who imagines an easy life at home with his wife (Erinn Hayes) and three kids – but doesn’t get it. At least the show’s title is clever: Kevin Can Wait. And like many of the new CBS shows, they're old-fashioned throwbacks, but first tastes are better than their dry descriptions. In the case of Kevin Can Wait, not that much better, but still...

Another new comedy, Man with a Plan, stars Matt LeBlanc (top), the Friends veteran who’s been so good in Episodes, as a contractor who spends more time at home after his wife returns to the workplace, and finds it difficult dealing with his three kids. If that sounds familiar, it should. See immediately above. But LeBlanc, as almost always (except for Joey), finds a way to generate laughs, or at least smiles.

The other new CBS comedy, The Great Indoors, at least has a different premise than the other two new fall comedies. Joel McHale from Community plays a rugged adventurer who has written prominently of his exploits for "Outdoor Limits" magazine, but is reassigned to the company’s website division, stuck indoors and overseeing a bunch of millennials. This, too, leaves a better first impression than you night think, because of McHale's fine way with a deadpan reaction.

The dramas, at first impression, sound more familiar than intriguing.

A new MacGyver? Really? Yes, really, with Lucas Till starring as TV’s most famous DIY guy in this generations-later remake. With George Eads as his handler, and this MacGyver as the original article's son. See for yourself:

And then there’s Bull, which finds Michael Weatherly a new job the same week he said goodbye on NCIS. He plays Dr. Jason Bull, a jury and courtroom consultant, and the character is based on Dr. Phil McGraw, before he advised Oprah Winfrey and got his own talk show. That may make you want to see it more; it makes me want to see it less.

Finally for fall, there’s Pure Genius, which stars Augustus Prew as tech billionaire James Bell, who has the genius idea of staffing a hospital with the smartest doctors and researchers he can find, and throwing money at them to explore the latest treatment and ideas. This is the one where the sneak preview most pushes the show into the realm of the eagerly anticipated. Or, at least, anticipated. Nice special effects, nice overall premise. Look:

When a network names its shows Bull and Pure Genius, the headlines and reviews almost write themselves. But you have to wait for the actual previews to be delivered before pronouncing sentence – at least I do – but these first tastes make for an uneasy start.

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