Sunday, December 5, 2010

Doing the Midseason Shuffle: NBC

NBC has the most complicated, potentially most destructive, and most strange midseason schedule released so far. To be fair, the only other network to release a full schedule is FOX; but they provided some major shake-ups as well, so it's still quite a feat for NBC to be so confusing.

Monday

8:00 - Chuck
9:00 - The Cape (two-hour premiere on Sunday, January 9 then regular timing January 17)
9:00 - The Event (beginning February 28 with two new episodes)
10:00 - Harry's Law (beginning January 17)
10:00 - Parenthood (beginning March 7)

Okay, so this is a big change. Chuck stays where it is; it's been performing pretty solidly this season, especially compared to the new series. The Cape debuts cold on a Sunday night, with an encore the following night, and then new episodes for six weeks. Harry's Law doesn't get the benefit of a "premiere event," but it's in much the same place as The Cape... and doesn't exactly seem compatible with a superhero show. I can't decide if what NBC is doing with The Cape is smart and shows they have faith in it, or completely stupid and a way of burning off a commitment that should never have happened in the first place. Because The Event is crashing so hard, I'm going to go with the former. I think NBC is hoping that The Cape will draw at least a 2.0 in the demo (not much to ask for, honestly, especially in a relatively easy timeslot) so that they can have new episodes ordered while The Event finishes a rushed run; it's telling that The Event won't be around for February sweeps. Because let's be honest: The Event is this year's FlashForward. It started really strong, faded quickly, and now will be absolutely killed by a very long hiatus. It's not seeing a second season. The strange thing about both The Cape and Harry's Law, though, is that each will only be airing a portion of their produced episodes. I'm assuming NBC is saving them (5 and 6 episodes each, respectively) in case The Event and/or Parenthood performs poorly and they need a boost during May sweeps. After all, Parenthood is now going up against Castle on ABC and Hawaii 5-0 on CBS; it now routinely loses to two of those networks' lowest-rated series on Tuesdays at 10:00... now it's going up against longer-running shows with better ratings. Uh oh.

Tuesday

8:00 - The Biggest Loser: Couples
10:00 - Parenthood (4 episodes in January)
10:00 - Law & Order: Los Angeles (beginning February 8)

Yeah, Parenthood is a goner. It'll be in its regular slot for all of January, then disappear for sweeps in February, and come back in a death-slot in March. Moving the newest Law & Order to Tuesdays is probably a good move; it'll be decent competition for ABC's cop show Detroit 1-8-7, which is pretty low-rated. LO:LA will probably beat it, and it may even beat CBS's The Good Wife as well, unless its recent horrid ratings on Wednesdays at 10:00 is an indication that audiences just don't want it anymore.

Wednesday

8:00 - Minute to Win It
9:00 - Chase (beginning January 12)
9:00 - America's Next Great Resaturant (beginning March 16)
10:00 - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (beginning January 5)

NBC is so stupid sometimes. They tried SVU at 9:00 last season, and it did not do well. When The Jay Leno Show was canceled and it moved back to 10:00, it soared again in the ratings. Clearly this is a 10:00pm show, and now it's back where it belongs. I don't fully understand why Chase was given a full season order when NBC had (and still has) so many shows waiting in the wings. Its ratings are awful, and now it is officially being euthanized as it goes up against Criminal Minds and American Idol. I think it's actualy smart of NBC to have 8:00-10:00 be unscripted programming as American Idol kicks into full gear in March; nothing is going to show all that strongly against AI, so it might as well be something that doesn't cost you much and that isn't serialized. And SVU is a flagship, so it's not really dependent upon compatible lead-ins. Once Chase is gone, this could be a relatively good night for NBC.

Thursday

8:00 - Community
8:30 - Perfect Couples
9:00 - The Office
9:30 - Parks and Recreation
10:00 - 30 Rock
10:30 - Outsourced

Wow... they did it: a 3-hour comedy block. Thursdays have always been NBC's best night, and I think this new lineup will work out very well for them. Community is probably the only one getting the shaft, since it will still be up against The Big Bang Theory on CBS; but everything else will probably benefit. Parks & Rec should get a nice boost and some new audience members from following The Office. And it makes sense to move 30 Rock, one of the more successful comedies, to the 10:00 timeslot to try out the new third hour. It'll be a nice counterbalance to all the 10:00 dramas. This move will also prove if Outsourced actually has a strong audience or if people just leave the channel on after The Office ends.

Fridays

8:00 - Who Do You Think You Are?
9:00 - Dateline

Okay, nothing to say.

Sundays

8:00 - The Marriage Ref (beginning March 6)
9:00 - The Celebrity Apprentice (beginning March 6)

I think Sundays will be a better fit for The Marriage Ref. It's a night when people really just want to watch something fluffy and entertaining and thoughtless. And let's hope this new season of The Celebrity Apprentice does better than the most recent of the regular The Apprentice.

Leftovers

NBC still has several shows waiting should anything fail tremendously and need immediate replacing, though if Chase can not only avoid cancellation but get a full pick-up, I can't imagine that happening. But Love Bites, Friends with Benefits, and The Paul Reiser Show are all awaiting airtime, though I don't currently see them fitting anywhere until at least May.

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