Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Upfronts: NBC Fall Schedule

Monday

8:00 - The Sing-Off
10:00 - The Playboy Club (NEW)

I'm not surprised that NBC wants to compete with ABC's Dancing with the Stars with a reality competition of their own. The Sing-Off has done shockingly well in its first two seasons, though they both aired in December while nearly all other network shows were on hiatus. It will be interesting to see how it does against real competition; I can see it being a moderate success, as it skews younger than Dancing with the Stars. The Playboy Club will face serious competition if ABC leaves Castle in this slot and CBS does the same with Hawaii Five-0.

Tuesday

8:00 - The Biggest Loser
10:00 - Parenthood

I suppose NBC wanted to keep one night that was working for them in tact, and they chose Tuesdays.

Wednesday

8:00 - Up All Night (NEW)
8:30 - Free Agents (NEW)
9:00 - Harry's Law (New Timeslot)
10:00 - Law & Order: SVU

I think this is probably the worst decision NBC made with this new schedule. This new comedy block will be competing with a comedy block on ABC and The X Factor on Fox. It's difficult to have two new sitcoms lead off the night to begin with, let alone with such stiff competition. Then Harry's Law will be up against a similarly older-skewing show in Criminal Minds (unless CBS changes its slot), coming out of two female-skewing shows. It just doesn't make much sense. And it's looking more and more likely that this will be the final season of Law & Order: SVU, as Mariska Hargitay just closed a deal to star in 13 of this season's upcoming episodes before her character receives a promotion and takes a back seat to a new female detective (rumored to be Jennifer Love Hewitt). Christopher Meloni still has not closed a deal to return, however, so we may not be seeing Stabler around anymore either.

Thursday

8:00 - Community
8:30 - Parks & Recreation (New Timeslot)
9:00 - The Office
9:30 - Whitney (NEW)
10:00 - Prime Suspect (NEW)

Off all the new sitcoms NBC picked up, I would've expected most if not all of them to get the 9:30 slot over Whitney. First of all, the preview up on NBC's site is terrible and unfunny. Plus, it does not fit with the "workplace comedy" theme of the other shows. The slot should have gone to something else, preferrably Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. I don't expect it to do very well. Prime Suspect takes over what many are still referring to as the ER timeslot. But putting a police drama there following two hours of comedy has not done NBC any good the past few years: Chase bombed there last fall and Southland did okay in 2009 but was canceled after one season on the network (though later sold to TNT).

Friday

8:00 - Chuck (New Timeslot, Final Season)
9:00 - Grimm (NEW)
10:00 - Dateline

Chuck is relegated to Fridays to burn off its final season, though it will unfortunately have to serve as a launching pad for the new supernatural procedural Grimm. I guess NBC's thinking was that they could compete with whatever Fox decides to put on Fridays at 9 (either the low-rated Fringe or a new series), and I guess that's a decent way of thinking. But with a supernatural show like Grimm possibly up against two other supernatural shows (Fringe and Supernatural on CW), plus whatever CBS schedules in the slot... it may not end well for the new show.

Sunday

NFL

Assuming the lockout is resolved, NFL coverage will take up the entirety of NBC's Sunday schedule.

Midseason

NBC is saving its best for next year when a new season of The Voice takes over for The Sing-Off on Mondays from 8-10, leading into the highly anticipated new musical drama Smash. Assuming The Voice maintains its massive ratings from this season, Mondays should be a huge night for the network come January 2012.

They also mentioned the return of The Celebrity Apprentice to Sundays from 8-10 in the spring, followed by the new drama The Firm, a planned one-season sequel to the John Grisham book and subsequent film. Should The Donald decide to make a presidential run, NBC head honcho Bob Greenblatt intends to recast the boardroom leader on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Also set to debut midseason but not placed on the schedule are new drama Awake and new comedies Bent, BFF and Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. 30 Rock will also return uninterrupted at midseason. That's a lot of midseason comedies.

Having watched the short (1-2 minutes each) previews for each of the new shows, including those debuting midseason, I can safely say that NBC dropped the ball this year. While it was smart of them to expand their reality television lineup with The Sing-Off being moved to a weekly format, many of the other choices are confusing. Whitney was easily the worst of the new comedy previews, though it gets the best timeslot possible. Are You There Vodka?... was easily the funniest, though it gets pushed to midseason. Up All Night and Free Agents offered "meh" previews, but they have nothing in common with each other or the other series they are paired with on Wednesdays, and they will face very stiff competition. Grimm's preview did the show no favors, making it look very cheesy; and Prime Suspect just looks like every other police show on television. The only preview that really sold itself was for The Playboy Club, which I'm holding out hope for. But when you order pilots like Smash and Awake, which have massive amounts of buzz surrounding its scripts and/or casts, I just don't understand waiting for that buzz to cool down for three additional months before debuting them. I think it's a decent decision to try to launch Smash out of a successful and similar music show like The Voice, but your fall schedule shouldn't suffer just because you're looking to the far future instead of what's coming up fast.

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