Look, up on CBS' Monday schedule! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's “Supergirl”!
In a fall schedule that's mostly stable and on-brand for CBS, the show and scheduling move that stands out the most is the decision to put “Supergirl” – based on the long-running DC Comics heroine, played by Melissa Benoist from “Glee” and produced by Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg – on Mondays at 8, likely starting in November. (CBS hasn't announced official premiere dates yet, but “Big Bang Theory” and new sitcom “Life in Pieces” will air there in September while CBS has the Thursday NFL package.)
This will mark not only the first time since 1949 that CBS won't have comedies as part of its regularly-scheduled Monday lineup in fall, but represents something of a brand shift for a network that's made its fortune on procedural crime dramas for the last 15 years.
“I know there was a lot of speculation: what were we thinking?,” CBS boss Nina Tassler acknowledged. “How does 'Supergirl' go to CBS? When we heard that pitch, and we heard the story of this coming of age, a woman coming to earth, 24 years old… she was a hero we could root for. We realized that she was the girl next door. She had certain super powers, but the cast was filled with relatable characters. She's got a Devil Wears Prada kind of boss, played by Calista Flockhart… It was a story we could relate to, characters we could care about.”
Tassler noted that “we've been given license and latitude to make some changes,” but Supergirl will still be Superman's cousin, and he'll be mentioned (if not seen) on the show.
She also referred to the character as “a real jewel in the DC crown,” yet the Monday at 8 timeslot will put her in competition with an even bigger jewel, sort of, in FOX's returning Batman prequel show “Gotham.”
I asked Tassler and CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl if they had any pause about putting two superhero shows against each other. Kahl joked, “I haven't seen a cape on 'Gotham' yet” and Tassler said, “That's not a superhero show.”
“Network scheduling isn't a zero-sum game anymore,” Kahl added. “I think it's wrong to think that if there's another superhero show or a genre show, that we can't succeed. I think we see this as a much broader show than just a genre show or a comic book show… I would hope this is a show that brings generations together. I would hope to pull not only a little from each of these other shows, but from cable as well.”