There are still people, I guess, who only watch TV the old, traditional way — broadcast network television.

Hey, I get it — it is more affordable. Mainly though, it is familiar and therefore, in a world that keeps changing at a faster and dizzier pace, more comfortable. Plus, all you lousy 30- or 40-something cord cutters, we don’t need you. We’ll run Ozempic ads all day long if we have to, thank you very much.

Paramount, which owns, CBS, gets it. For the 16th year in a row, by their reading of the numbers, CBS ranks first among the traditional broadcast networks. The network stays on top in the total viewer demo year after year by sticking to tried and true, recognizable brands, genres and stars.

Take their 2024-25 schedule, announced Thursday. A glance at the seven day, prime time grid above will seem familiar and comfortable to anyone over 60 — the median age for viewers of broadcast network television today. For CBS, it all comes down to the Three C’s — Cops, Contestants and a few Comedies.

NCIS: ORIGINS star Austin Stowell. ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

First, the Cops. NCIS has been a strong, international moneymaker for close to two decades. This fall, find out how the story all began as we meet the young Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Austin Stowell plays the rookie NCIS special agent, with Mark Harmon back for more cash as the series narrator. It is all set in 1991, when the then 40-year-old Harmon was toiling on a short-lived NBC series called Reasonable Doubts. That show will never be revived, but NCIS will apparently live forever.

Meanwhile, the international hit NCIS Sydney will throw another perp on the barbie come Spring 2024.


CBS has also dusted off that most stodgy of TV dramas, Matlock. The ’80s courtroom series was a comeback vehicle for Andy Griffith, who basically gave it a Columbo-in-a-courtroom spin. The new show stars Kathy Bates as a legal legend. The concept is as comfortable as Matlock’s old, wrinkled suit. To give the show some youthful vigor, Jason Ritter plays her spunky son. Ritter, son of John, grandson of Tex, is now 44.

Now, old people love Matlock. The original series still thrives on places such as Vision and AMI. It has become this centuries The Lawrence Welk Show, a series your elderly parents will call and ask if you are watching, no matter how many times you tell them you are not.

CBS also has three FBI shows, a firefighter show and another oldies cop show in the final season of Blue Bloods. The final eight episodes of the 14th and final season will start airing in October. Had Tom Selleck wanted to work into his eighties, the series would likely have continued. In the meantime, don’t rule out reunion movies.

Speaking of the ’80s, back when I first started covering television for TV Guide, CBS had a fairly edgy vengeance drama called The Equalizer. That lasted four seasons with veteran actor Edward Woodward and had a cool opening theme by Stewart Copeland of The Police. The Sunday night reboot, starring Queen Latifah, returns next fall for a fifth season. The success of this show, I’m guessing, led to a CBS programming discussion: “What if Matlock came back as a lady?”

CBS had great success earlier this year with broadcast’s No. 1 rookie hit, The Tracker. The No. 2 rookie, Elsbeth, spun off from The Good Wife, will also be back.

Get this: Watson, starring Morris Chestnut, is not spunoff from any existing series. Whaat?

Tracker is not a spinoff or a reboot, so how the hell it made the schedule is anyone’s guess. CBS will test another show that is not a spinoff or a reboot next mid-season, although even here the concept is familiar and easy to grasp. Watson will star Morris Chestnut as Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame. Updated to modern times, this Dr. Watson is a medical examiner who will eventually tangle with Holmes’ old adversary Moriarity. Besides having the perfect last name for a CBS serial drama lead, Chestnut is 55, the perfect age to be a CBS procedural star. When the series ends in 2045, he will still only be 75.

As for Contestants and/or Competitions, CBS has stacked Wednedays this fall, winter and spring with a rotating list of familiar game shows and competition returns and spinoffs. Look for CBS daytime talker Drew Barrymore to moonlight as the middle square on a re-boot of The Hollywood Squares. Look also for more nighttime versions of The Price is Right. Survivor and The Amazing Race are back at 90 minutes and The Summit will follow Survivor this fall. That show challenges 16 contestants to climb a mountain in the Alps, and, as Groucho once said, the Lord alps those who alp themselves.

As for Comedies, The Neighborhood is back for a sixth or seventh season; I’ve lost track. Ghosts have also returned. Young Sheldon is gone but, have no fear, executive producer Chuck Lorrie will wring new laffs with his latest Big Bang bonanza, Georgie and Mandy’s First Marriage. This sequel to Young Sheldon follows Sheldon’s less interesting brother Georgie (Montana Jordan) as he becomes a husband and father. Ding dong: Is that his mother and grandmother at the door? Ah, familiarity. Another comedy, Poppa’s House, starring real-life father and son Damon Wayans and Damon Wayans Jr., will premiere this fall. This is not a spinoff, but Damon Jr. was spun off from Damon Sr.

Tossed off the schedule was So Help Me Todd, and there are already campaigns out there to bring it back, so watch your ass, Watson.

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