Protecting the Tiffany Network’s Crown Jewel: We Make the Case for CBS Treating THE GOOD WIFE Like a Thirteen Episode Cable Drama

By: BigTVFan

THE GOOD WIFE is CBS’ crown jewel drama. It’s a show that has garnered three Emmy nominations for Oustanding Drama (and should have been nominated last year too). Multiple series regulars have been nominated for Emmys and Julianna Margulies has won one for playing the titular character, Alicia Florrick. It’s also the prime destination for great actors to show up in guest starring roles. The only thing is, it’s not a big ratings hit.  By CBS standards the numbers it currently gets would certainly get it cancelled at the end of this season. (On Tuesday the NCIS twins both got a 1.9 for reruns, while a new episode of The Good Wife on Sunday got a 1.5). That’s not gonna happen because CBS knows what kind of acclaim and prestige this show garners. Plus it brings people to CBS that don’t regularly watch other CBS dramas. CBS is in such good shape with the 20 plus million people who watch NCIS and THE BIG BANG THEORY [TBBT] regularly, that they can afford to have a lower rated, high income, prestige show on their schedule, especially one that many, including CBS themselves, love.

As I have previously written, I just don’t see CBS leaving the show in such an important time slot as Sun 9p much longer. A few months ago I suggested it was destined for Fridays at 10 next season, possibly after another older skewing CBS drama, BLUE BLOODS. I think that’s still a possibility, as is maybe Sun at 10 (which would all but push it out of primetime in the fall on the East Coast due to NFL delays). But I started to think that there’s something CBS can do that will help them appease the showrunners and stars and still keep this important drama on their docket for a few more years: Cap each season at 13 episodes.

Julianna has talked about how she was searching for years for her “cable” show, i.e. a smart, break the rules, adult drama. She has joked that she got her cable show, it just happened to be on CBS. Most fans and TV critics will acknowledge that it is a show a little left of center to the other more traditional procedural dramas on CBS. The Emmys, who of late seem to relegate their entire Drama category to shows only on cable all but seem to agree – the last few years (except last year when it was ridiculously snubbed) it was the only broadcast drama in the category. So maybe CBS should treat is a cable show. Make 13 episodes a season. CBS doesn’t need 22 episodes of this show. It’s not like NCIS, TBBT etc. which garner huge ratings that add to their bottom line. This show brings prestige, awards, high income viewers and critical raves to the network. That’s quite valuable but that will all still be achieved with 13 episodes. In fact it might even make the show more impressive. Creators Robert and Michelle King will have the luxury of more time to finesse and craft their episodes and since they’d be making fewer of them, they could arc out their season even better and make each episode jam-packed with even more goodness.

Last year while doing press, Julianna expressed gratitude for being on such a great show, but she also lamented network TVs punishing hours when you’re making 22 episodes a year and as the lead you’re in all but every scene. That’s 9-10 months of the year with a minimum of 14 hour days. For a woman with a husband and a young child that’s tough. Julianna recalled telling her husband of the punishing schedule “This is why Judy Garland was addicted to pills”.  Surely a 13 episode season would make life easier for her.

CBS would be able to air 13 episodes consecutively, thus satisfying fans of the show. A 13 episode season would satisfy CBS, the creators, its star, and viewers – everyone wins!

CBS wouldn’t even have to put it on the fall schedule. It can be penciled in for midseason. Maybe it will show up on Friday but CBS will also have the luxury of using it for a hole left by an under performing new show. With such a head start CBS would be able to give critics a handful of new episodes to screen and garner lots of advance praise before the launch. Today it was reported that CBS entered in to a unique (for them) multi platform syndication deal for reruns of this show. It’s clearly the first of its kind for them because they want to keep the show on their network and this help funds another season for a lower rated show.  Making less episodes each year also saves them money. Plus if it helps the creators craft a better show and makes its star even happier, all the better. Like I said – everybody wins!

BigTVfan has been analyzing the business of show since September 2010. Visit his blog at bigtvfan.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @bigtvfan.

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