After all the big networks wrap up the hopefully fabulous summer TV season, the race is on to win over viewers for the fall. CBS will be shaking things up a bit with its fall TV schedule, however, by delaying Criminal Minds' shortened final season, which won't be debuting in 2019 at all. Interestingly enough, the crime drama's former time slot will be taken over by a familiar face: former Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore.
As Criminal Minds fanatics well remember, Shemar Moore's Agent Derek Morgan made his departure from the team back in Season 11 (even though Moore had expressed wishes to leave in Season 10). Soon after he was officially out, Moore snapped up the lead role on CBS' S.W.A.T. reboot, which finished up its second season earlier this month.
The network clearly has some ideas in place by flipping S.W.A.T. from its former home on Thursday nights over to the later Wednesday evening time slot. While it hasn't exactly been exhaustively explained why CBS decided to introduce that schedule adjustment, the choice isn't so wild as to defy science.
The network needed a strong and proven drama to slot into the Wednesday night schedule, which S.W.A.T. has been, averaging over 8 million viewers an episode after delayed viewing stats are tallied. Minus a couple of exceptions, S.W.A.T. regularly beat out Criminal Minds' live-viewing stats on a weekly basis, so it's highly possible that bringing Shemar Moore back to Wednesday nights could be a boon for CBS. Especially paired back-to-back with David Boreanaz's SEAL Team.
It could be argued that S.W.A.T.'s ratings successes were influenced by its Thursday night time slot, following the two-hour comedy block that was formerly led by The Big Bang Theory. Despite the fact that S.W.A.T.'s lead-ins were the ratings-troubled reboot Murphy Brown and Nina Dobrev's Fam, which both got cancelled recently.
Since that viewership behemoth is over now, CBS can get a little looser with its Thursdays. With Young Sheldon now spearheading the evening, the network is premiering Mike Colter's new drama Evil in the 10:00 p.m. slot. It'll be interesting to see how well that show does in S.W.A.T.'s place, especially since its debuting lead-in, Patricia Heaton's new show Carol's Second Act, doesn't entirely match the same demographic.
Criminal Minds, of course, has long been one of CBS' signature dramas, pulling out double-digit seasons similar to NCIS and its spinoff NCIS: Los Angeles. Behind-the-scenes troubles and ratings issues have hindered the drama's overall success in recent years, however, and it was decided that Season 15 would be its swan song.
Showrunner Erica Messer is getting ten episodes to wrap things up accordingly, what with that new big bad around to make life hell for the BAU. The final season will also need to address the lingering romantic feelings between JJ and Reid, though the latter is apparently getting a new love interest played by Rachael Leigh Cook.
No doubt the biggest question that fans will have going into Season 15 is this: will Shemar Moore's Derek Morgan return one final time before it's all over with? Moore memorably made a couple of cameos on the crime drama after departing, appearing once in Season 12 and once in Season 13.
Considering neither one of those episodes killed Derek off or sent him away to outer space or anything, it's perfectly within reason to expect Erica Messer to figure out a way to bring Shemar Moore back for Criminal Minds' big farewell to fans. I'm not saying everybody should get pumped for Derek and his Baby Girl Garcia to follow up Rossi's wedding with their own, but we want to see some sparks flying, dang it!
Criminal Minds Season 15 still doesn't have an exact premiere date, though audiences can expect to see it debuting on CBS in early 2020. S.W.A.T. also doesn't have a specific date when it'll debut Season 3, but it'll be hitting the network for its new Wednesday night time slot this fall.