And we're off! My favorite time of the year officially kicks off with NBC's announcement of its 2013 fall schedule. There are some surprises, but not many; compared to last year's schedule, this is downright boring. But it will be interesting to see what they do at midseason with their remaining dramas and comedies, of which there are many.
8:00 - The Voice
10:00 - The Blacklist (NEW)
I called this one. NBC's biggest pilot, The Blacklist, gets the slot after The Voice. No surprise, really.
8:00 - The Biggest Loser (New Timeslot)
9:00 - The Voice (New Timeslot)
10:00 - Chicago Fire (New Timeslot)
This is one of the more confusing nights on the schedule, for me. The Biggest Loser is cut down to one hour on the fall schedule (likely to make way for the return of The Sing Off in winter), followed by The Voice. Then Chicago Fire will get a big boost when it moves to Tuesdays; what's strange is that its spin-off, Chicago PD, hasn't been slotted yet. I would think NBC would rather give the new show the strong lead-in, but I suppose they're hoping for a double-down effect: more viewers to Chicago Fire will equal more viewers for Chicago PD at midseason. Plus, the spin-off can then benefit from a possible marketing push during the Olympics.
8:00 - Revolution (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Law & Order: SVU
10:00 - Ironside (NEW)
I was close with my prediction for Revolution (I had it at 9:00), and I suppose 8:00 is as good a time as any to move the show to. The X Factor is all but a bomb, so it won't be much competition; plus the earlier hour may help in getting new eyes on the series. Ironside just feels like a big old bomb to me, but perhaps I'll be wrong. I just don't see there being much of an audience for a remake of a 1960s cop drama, especially one starring Blair Underwood, who has yet to star in a successful series (and never as the lead).
8:00 - Parks & Recreation (New Timeslot)
8:30 - Welcome to the Family (NEW)
9:00 - Sean Saves the World (NEW)
9:30 - The Michael J. Fox Show (NEW)
10:00 - Parenthood (New Timeslot)
I think this announcement is the beginning of the end for Parks & Recreation. In all likelihood (though pending their respective networks' fall schedules, of course), it will be up against The Big Bang Theory and possibly Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. But it will also get the opportunity to prove itself if it can retain its current numbers against such competition. Still, it won't provide much of a lead-in for Welcome to the Family. I'm kind of shocked The Michael J. Fox Show isn't anchoring the night at 9:00, though being the only new comedy with a full-season order so far, there will be plenty of opportunity to move it around if this slot doesn't work. I'm worried for Sean Saves the World and the pressure on it to perform at 9:00; I found it to have the funniest preview of the bunch, so hopefully that will translate to a wide audience. Parenthood also gets a chance at bat by moving to a higher profile night; if it can retain its Tuesday night ratings (around 1.6-2.0), it will have more than earned its full season order and time shift.
8:00 - Dateline (New Timeslot)
9:00 - Grimm
10:00 - Dracula (NEW)
I'm only surprised that NBC doesn't want Dracula to potentially give Grimm a boost by airing it at 8:00, but it's probably a bit too dark for the earlier hour. Either way, I'm excited for it, and I'm glad NBC is introducing more scripted programming to the evening.
As expected, Crossbones will occupy the 10:00 hour on Fridays in the spring, just in time to compete with another pirate drama: Black Sails on Starz. NBC announced a Sunday night lineup for the spring, but that is rarely (never?) followed when the time comes. Regardless, they have slotted a new reality series, American Dream Builders starring Nate Berkus, at 8:00; Believe at 9:00; and Crisis at 10:00. If this does come to fruition, it will be a great step forward for NBC, as they typically only air reality fare on Sunday nights. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if this is actually broken up (especially if The Celebrity Apprentice gets renewed, as Donald Trump has just tweeted it has) and these shows fill in holes left by failed freshmen or anything which may have its season shortened. Also, on Tuesdays at midseason, The Voice will move back to 8:00, followed by About a Boy at 9:00 and The Family Guide at 9:30.
Not on the schedule or planned in any way were new dramas Chicago PD and The Night Shift; new comedy Undateable; and returning comedy Community. All will air sometime in the spring
Also for midseason, NBC has The Sing Off (which will almost certainly air over the holidays, as it did for its first two season), The Million Second Quiz and Food Fighters, and possibly The Celebrity Apprentice.
This is, surprisingly, not horrible. The only real problem I see is that Welcome to the Family will almost certainly drown at 8:30 on Thursday with a totally incompatible lead-in. I still think Michael J. Fox should have anchored the 9:00 hour as well. But other than that, this is solid. I applaud NBC for making some tough decisions and for finally (mostly) going by ratings to justify renewal decisions rather politics. And hopefully they'll see a nice midseason boost from the Winter Olympics.
Read after the jump for descriptions of NBC's new series.
The Blacklist (Mondays at 10:00) - For decades, ex-government agent Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as "The Concierge of Crime." Now, he's mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: he will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone), an FBI proﬁler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it's going to be one hell of a ﬁrst day on the job. What follows is a twisting series of events as the race to stop a terrorist begins. What are Red's true intentions? Why has he chosen Liz, a woman with whom he seemingly has no connection? Does Liz have secrets of her own? Zamani, we come to ﬁnd out, is only the ﬁrst of many on a list that Red has compiled over the years: a "blacklist" of politicians, mobsters, spies and international terrorists. He will help catch them all... with the caveat that Liz continues to work as his partner. Red will teach Liz to think like a criminal and "see the bigger picture"... whether she wants to or not.
From writer/executive producer Jon Bokenkamp (Taking Lives) and executive producers John Eisendrath (Alias, My Own Worst Enemy) and John Davis (Gulliver's Travels, Predator) comes a global thriller that will become more mysterious with each name on the list.
Ironside (Wednesdays at 10:00) - In the gritty world of the NYPD, no one's tougher than Detective Robert Ironside. He's a fearless cop who won't stop until the guilty are brought to justice. He and his trusted, handpicked team of specialists will do whatever it takes to solve New York's most difficult and notorious crimes - even if it means breaking the rules. Tough, sexy and acerbic, Ironside's never been afraid to call it like he sees it. As a detective, his instincts are second to none, and those around him have to stay on their toes if they want to keep up... because when his spine was shattered by a bullet two years ago, Ironside swore he'd never let a damn wheelchair slow him down. Justice. Nothing gets in his way. Blair Underwood stars in a bold new drama about a different kind of cop.
Welcome to the Family (Thursdays at 8:30) - After four years of barely getting by in school, Dan and Katrina Yoder are thrilled when their daughter Molly is handed her high school diploma. Now it's off to Arizona State for Molly, and a mid-life renaissance for the Yoders (which includes turning Molly's room into their dream fitness center). At the same time in East LA, Junior Hernandez is delivering his valedictorian address. As the first of his family to go to college (Stanford!), Junior's the pride and joy of parents Miguel and Lisette. But Junior's barely into his speech before he gets an unexpected text: "i'm pregnant." The sender? Miss Molly Yoder. OMG/Dios Mio! What follows is the ultimate culture crash as Molly and Junior decide to get hitched, bringing two very different families together in a way they never imagined. Dan and Miguel, who already have a history, do NOT see eye to eye. But more importantly, what about Stanford? Arizona State? Who's going to raise the baby? And oh no - what about the fitness center?! For the sake of their kids (and the one on the way) they'll have to somehow make it all work... like it or not.
From writer and executive producer Mike Sikowitz (Rules of Engagement), comes a comedy that proves: Life is full of unexpected little bumps.
Sean Saves the World (Thursdays at 9:00) -Sean's a divorced gay dad who's trying to juggle it all. From his overbearing boss and offbeat employees at work - to his pushy mom and weekends with his teenage daughter at home - handling it all is no easy task. So when Ellie, his 14-year-old bundle of joy, moves in full-time, it's a whole new challenge. Never one to do anything halfway, Sean's intent on being the best dad ever - so he loads up on parenting how-to books and plans Pinterest-worthy family dinners. But it seems his company's new owner has decided Sean and his team should work longer hours, throwing a kink in his perfectly constructed homemaking plans. Ellie, a normal girl who wants to hang with her friends and eat on the run, sees this development as a plus. She loves her dad, but he's clearly going overboard. From keeping his boss happy, his employees motivated and enduring his mother's tactless "advice" to raising a smart, grounded and healthy kid, it's going to be a growing experience, to say the least. But if anyone can swing it, it's Sean.
Sean Hayes (Will & Grace, Hot in Cleveland) returns to NBC in a new comedy from executive writer/producer Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted, Andy Richter Controls the Universe) about work and family... the ultimate balancing act!
The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursdays at 9:30) - Look who's making the news again. One of New York's most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox), put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. But now five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work. Having never wanted Mike to leave in the first place, his old boss Harris Green jumped at the chance to get him back on TV. The trick, as it's always been, was to make Mike think it was his idea. After several - okay, many - failed attempts, Mike's family, anxious to see him out of the house, finally succeeded in getting him to "run into" Green. Now their plan is in motion. He'll be back to juggling home, family and career, just like the old days - only better.
Still got it... Michael J. Fox returns to NBC in a new comedy from writer and executive producer Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) and executive producer Will Gluck (Easy A).
Dracula (Fridays at 10:00) - Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world's most iconic characters.
It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night - useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan... until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
From the producers of the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning hit Downton Abbey comes Dracula, a twisted, sophisticated and sexy take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, proving that some stories never die.
About a Boy (Midseason) - After writing a hit song, Will Freeman was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from ﬁnancial woes. Now he's single, unemployed and loving it. So when Marcus (the oddly charming 11-year-old next door neighbor) stops by, Will's not so sure about being a kid's new best friend... until Will discovers that women ﬁnd single dads hot. Well, that changes everything. A deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will's son, and in return Marcus is allowed to chill at Will's house, playing ping-pong and gorging on steaks - something Marcus' single, needy (and very vegan) mother would never allow. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy Marcus' visits and even ﬁnds himself looking out for the kid. Could it be that maybe there's something to be said for being a (sort of) responsible adult - at least in a young boy's eyes?
Starring Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting) and David Walton (Bent), based on the best-selling book by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, An Education) and written/produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) comes a different kind of coming-of-age story.
Believe (Midseason) - Levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature, even predict the future... since she was two years old, Bo has had gifts she could neither fully understand nor control. Raised by a small group known as the "True Believers," the orphaned girl has been safeguarded from harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain. But now that she is 10, her powers have become stronger, and the threat has grown more dangerous. With her life and future now in jeopardy, the "Believers" turn to the only person they see fit to be her full-time protector. That is, once they break him out of jail. Tate, a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate who's lost his will, is initially reluctant - until he witnesses one of her extraordinary abilities. Bo sees people for who they truly are... and who they may become. Tate and Bo begin their journey, one in which trust must be earned. Traveling from city to city, every place they stop and everyone they meet will be changed forever. But they'll have to keep going to stay one step ahead of the sinister forces after Bo's power... because it will take a miracle to keep them safe forever.
The powers of a young girl may hold the fate of our world in Believe, from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Revolution, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and executive producer/writer/director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men).
Chicago PD (Midseason) - District 21 of the Chicago Police Department is made up of two distinctly different groups. There are the uniformed cops who patrol the beat and go head-to-head with the city's street crimes. And there's the Intelligence Unit, the team that combats the city's major offenses - organized crime, drug trafficking, high profile murders and beyond. Leading the Intelligence team is Sergeant Hank Voight, a man not against skirting the law in the pursuit of justice. Demanding and tough, only those who can take the heat survive under Voight's command. Take Detective Antonio Dawson - despite his troubled history with his boss, Dawson has ambitions of running the unit... so if that means facing off against Voight every day, he'll persevere. From the street cops with dreams of moving up to the elite crew who are already in, "life on the job" is a daily challenge. The enormous responsibilities that come with the territory take an emotional toll, as we'll find when we follow the personal lives of our characters outside the walls of District 21.
From Emmy-winning producer Dick Wolf and the team behind Chicago Fire comes Chicago PD, a gripping, character-driven new police drama about those who put it all on the line to serve and protect.
Crisis (Midseason) - To bring the most powerful people in the world to their knees... threaten what they hold most dear. It's ﬁeld trip day for the students of Ballard High, a school that educates the children of DC's elite, top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players, even the President's son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis. Now, with some of the country's most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind, the question arises: how far would you go and what would you become to ensure your child's safe return? With so many parents and dignitaries put into play with nowhere to turn and no one to trust, the unthinkable grows from the select families at risk to an entire nation at stake.
From executive producer/writer Rand Ravich, and starring Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, Lance Gross and Rachael Taylor comes the most emotionally charged action thriller of the season.
Crossbones (Midseason) - It's 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence, the ﬁrst functioning democracy in the Americas, where the diabolical pirate Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard (John Malkovich), reigns over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. Part shantytown and part marauder's paradise, this is a place like no other on Earth - and a mounting threat to international commerce. To gain control of this fearsome society, Tom Lowe, a highly skilled undercover assassin, is sent to the buccaneers' haven to take down the brilliant and charismatic Blackbeard. But the closer Lowe gets, the more he ﬁnds that his quest is not so simple. Lowe can't help but admire the political ideals of Blackbeard, whose thirst for knowledge knows no bounds - and no law. But Lowe is not the only danger to Blackbeard's rule. He is a man with many villainous rivals and one great weakness - a passionately driven woman whom he cannot deny.
From the award-winning creator of Luther, Neil Cross, and award-winning executive producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Gladiator, Men in Black) comes an extraordinary action adventure with an unexpected moral center where one can't be sure whether the pirates or the British crown are the villains.
The Family Guide (Midseason) - It's not every family that's brought closer together by divorce... but then again, the Fishers aren't exactly typical. Take Mel Fisher, for example. Whether it's chopping down trees, showing his daughter how to drive or playing football with his son, he's never let the fact that he's blind slow him down. Then there's Joyce Fisher, possibly the only mom in Pasadena to smoke a pipe. For her, divorce is like a second coming of age, a chance to be the teen she never was. Just ask her '80s-obsessed teenage daughter Katie, whose clothes she's always borrowing (that is, when Mom's not tagging along with Katie to the mall). At the center of all this is Henry, the Fishers' 11-year-old son. Having always been his dad's eyes, ears and wingman, Henry's less than thrilled when Mel shows up with Elvis, a guide dog... which is also how Henry learns about the pending divorce. Awkward. While reluctant to the changes this "big ball of fur" would bring, it's through an Adult Henry's voice-over (Jason Bateman) that we ﬁnd out his parents' split would "allow all of us to ﬁnally discover... who we needed to be."
Starring J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Law & Order) and from executive producer/writer DJ Nash (Guys with Kids, Up All Night) comes a comedy about a family in transition, and the love that guides them forward.
The Night Shift (Midseason) - At San Antonio Memorial, those who work the 7pm – 7am shift are a special breed. Welcome to the night shift, where every day is a fight between the heroic efforts of saving lives and the hard truths of running a hospital. After a grueling tour of duty in Afghanistan, adrenaline junkie TC Callahan became accustomed to combat, but he could have never guessed that his toughest battles would be fought right here at home. TC and his irreverent team of late night docs know how to let off steam with the casual prank or two, but when lives are at stake, they are all business. Unfortunately, the night shift is now under new management, and boss Michael Ragosa is more interested in cutting costs than helping people. But TC has never met a rule he couldn't break, or a person he won't stand up to. And it's clear that not even Jordan, TC's ex-girlfriend and now Ragosa's second in charge, has a chance at keeping him in line. If Ragosa wants a war... he'll get one.
From executive producers/writers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) comes a fresh new take on the fight to save lives.
Undateable (Midseason) - When confident slacker Danny Beeman (Whitney's Chris D'Elia) takes Justin on as a roommate, Danny unwittingly inherits Justin's group of romantically challenged friends. Seeing himself as the ultimate player, Danny decides to teach the crew (whom he dubs "The Undateables") everything he knows about "the game of love." For their first lesson, Danny takes the guys to an event hosted by his sister, Leslie, who is a single mom with dating difficulties of her own. At first, Danny's advice seems to pay off big-time: the shy guy talks to a girl, the no-filter dude learns it's never okay to ask a woman when she's due(!) and his nebbish roommate, Justin, goes home with a mystery woman. It's not until the next day that they figure out it was Danny's sister, Leslie! Talk about a bunch who just can't get lucky!
From executive producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) comes a hilarious new comedy about the "do's," "don'ts" and "duhs" of dating.
The Million Second Quiz (Midseason) - The Million Second Quiz is a state-of-the-art, electrifying new live competition where contestants test the limits of their knowledge, endurance and will to win, as they battle each other in intense bouts of trivia for 12 consecutive days and nights. The competition, where time equals money, will air in primetime, LIVE from a gigantic hourglass-shaped structure in the heart of Manhattan. This hourglass will also serve as the living quarters of the reigning champions - the four players who have remained in the game the longest. They will have the opportunity to play along with the game for up to two weeks as other contestants attempt to unseat them during the primetime show.
The show will be the first fully convergent television experience, where viewers from all across America will be able to play along at home in sync with the live primetime broadcast and get the chance to appear on the show. When the million seconds draw to a close, the champions will battle it out and the ultimate winner could claim an unprecedented cash prize of up to $10 million. For 12 days, 24/7, contestants will be pushed to the limits of their knowledge and the breaking point of endurance. Live, interactive, intense and unlike any other game show in history, you truly won’t want to miss a single second!
Food Fighters (Midseason) - The table is set for the ultimate culinary clash in Food Fighters, one part cooking competition, one part game show. In a delicious twist, host Adam Richman (Man v. Food) will give homegrown amateur cooks the chance to test their skills against professional chefs. Every down-home cook has that one "signature dish" or "secret family recipe" that always gains favor with friends and family. Now, imagine going head-to-head in the kitchen against five professional chefs, who try to cook your specialty dish even better than you - in the hopes of winning over a dinner party made up of the American public. Talk about pressure! With each savored victory, the cash prize gets bigger and bigger as the home cooks rise to every challenge and out cook the professional chefs. Think you've got what it takes to serve up the competition?
From creator Tim Puntillo (Minute to Win It, Baggage) comes Food Fighters, the competition that proves it's not about the size of your kitchen, it's how you use it!
American Dream Builders (Midseason) - Competition is in the house! America's top designers, builders, architects and landscapers go head-to-head each week, putting their talents to the test on extreme home renovations. They'll tackle spaces that are architecturally diverse, resulting in epic transformations with impeccable design. These incredible transformations will be judged by host Nate Berkus and a panel of experts to determine which team achieved the best results. The losing team will then be forced to send one team member home - talk about building pressure! In the LIVE finale, the two remaining competitors will each design and renovate a home on their own, bringing their unique visions to life. America will then vote and crown one contestant the winner. Finally, in an exciting twist, the two spectacular homes will be given away - LIVE - to two lucky viewers!
Hosted by Nate Berkus and executive produced by Craig Plestis (Minute to Win It) and Tom Shelly (Survivor) comes the event that will transform America, one dream home at a time.
For trailers and more information, visit http://www.nbc.com/upcoming-shows/