Two and a Half Men joining Big Bang Theory on Thursdays for CBS

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It’s no theory: The Big Bang Theory is the most popular primetime program on TV right now. And when it returns in the fall, it’s about to get some new company.

In a surprise move, CBS has announced it is moving long-running sitcom Two and a Half Men to Thursday nights, where it will follow Big Bang.

CTV, which airs both programs in Canada, will likely follow suit.

Thursday night is the most important night of the week for the TV networks. More people watch TV that night than any other night except Sunday, and the major Hollywood studios use Thursdays to promote their weekend movie openings.

Two and a Half Men will be returning for its 10th season, following a year of turmoil in which Ashton Kutcher replaced original star Charlie Sheen. The show’s ratings held up better than expected with Kutcher in the lead. This time last year, it looked as if this past season would be the last for Two and a Half Men, but it will carry on for at least one more season.

The Big Bang Theory will be returning for its sixth season.

CBS made the move official Wednesday, when the network unveiled its fall schedule before advertisers in New York.

As reported earlier, CSI: Miami has been cancelled after 10 seasons, but its companion show, CSI: New York, will return for a ninth year. CSI: Miami was the more expensive of the two programs to make.

The original CSI will return on its usual day and time, with Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue replacing the departed Laurence Fishburne and Marg Helgenberger.

In another move, The Mentalist will move to Sundays, where it will air in lieu of the departed CSI: Miami.

The Mentalist, CSI and CSI: New York all air in Canada on CTV. The Canadian network will probably mirror CBS’s scheduling moves when it announces its own fall schedule later this month, so as not to split the audience and risk alienating advertisers.

CBS’s fall schedule will feature just four new series, one comedy and three dramas. That’s a marked difference from the other major U.S. networks, which favoured comedy over drama in their fall schedules, announced earlier this week.

The new comedy, Partners, hails from the creators of Will Grace, and focuses on the “bromance” between a straight architect, played by David Krumholtz, and his gay co-worker, played by Michael Urie.

The new dramas are:

• Elementary, an updated-to-present-day-New-York take Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, with Jonny Lee Miller as police detective Holmes and Lucy Liu as his psychiatrist colleague, Dr. Joan Watson.

• Made in Jersey, starring Janet Montgomery as a working-class junior law partner trying to fit in at an upscale Manhattan law firm.

• Vegas, a period ensemble drama, set in the 1960s, featuring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis in a tale about a fourth-generation rancher-turned-sheriff trying to bring law and order to Sin City during its heyday as an entertainment and gambling mecca.

Returning series, in addition to The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, The Mentalist, CSI and CSI: New York, include The Amazing Race, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds and Mike Molly, which air on CTV.

Also returning are The Good Wife, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-0 and Survivor, which air on Global TV, and 2 Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother and Person of Interest, which air on Citytv.

On-the-bubble series Unforgettable, Rob!, A Gifted Man and NYC 22 were all cancelled.

The six-year sitcom Rules of Engagement has been renewed for a seventh season, but did not make it onto CBS’s official fall schedule.

The network will probably keep Rules of Engagement on the bench, to use as a replacement in the event of a quick cancellation.

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