Lisa de Moraes's TV Column: CBS Picks Up 'Medium' the Day After NBC Dropped It

Patricia Arquette stars in
Patricia Arquette stars in "Medium," which is moving to CBS. (By Mitchell Haaseth -- Nbc Universal)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, May 21, 2009

NEW YORK, May 20

"What did you know about 'Medium,' and when did you know it?" the Reporters Who Cover Television demanded to know of CBS suits at a morning Q&A session detailing the net's new 2009-10 season prime-time schedule.

"Medium" turned up on CBS's schedule less than 24 hours after NBC nixed the show because, NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman said, it was "aging, as we were getting younger." And, he added, it had not gotten the same buzz as the whole "Chuck" Subway foot-long sandwich-buying thing.

"Medium," which is produced by CBS's TV production division, has turned up on CBS's Friday, between "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs."

Something of a kerfuffle has erupted over "Medium" during Broadcast TV Upfront Week. NBC, which dumped "Medium" after five seasons, nonetheless seems unhappy the show has found a new relationship so quickly. NBC sent an e-mail to The Reporters Who Cover Television, pointing out that "Medium" averaged about 8.3 million viewers this season -- a smaller crowd than two shows CBS has canceled: "The Unit" and "Without a Trace."

On the other hand, NBC's "Chuck" only averaged 7.4 million viewers this season. So there you go.

CBS picked up "Medium," CBS programming chief Nina Tassler explained Wednesday morning, because it is extremely compatible with the two other shows. "Ghost Whisperer" is about a chick who talks to ghosts. "Numb3rs" is a crime-solving drama. "Medium" is about a chick who talks to dead people to help cops solve crimes. In fact, Tassler said, if "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs" ever got together, "Medium" would have been their love child. Yes, she did.

Still, some intrepid reporters demanded to know exactly when CBS suits knew NBC had officially passed on the CBS-produced drama series -- as in, at what hour, on what day. They also grilled CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl in re what CBS had planned for Fridays at 9 next season before it got the all-clear to pick up "Medium." The Reporters Who Cover Television are clearly overcaffeinated.

They also smelled conspiracy in CBS's decision to move "The Mentalist" -- this season's most watched new TV series -- to Thursday night at 10, instead of scheduling it at 8 or 9 somewhere on its lineup so it could feed its millions of viewers into a new series immediately after its broadcast.

Likewise, they smelled a rat in CBS's decision to go with "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Gary Unmarried" in the 8 p.m. hour Wednesdays, instead of moving its more successful sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" there, or "Rules of Engagement."

CBS has instead given "The Big Bang Theory" the plum Monday 9:30 p.m. time slot following this country's most watched comedy series, "Two and a Half Men." "Rules" is once again being held back as a midseason fill-in.

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