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Monday, May 2, 2011

UPFRONTS 2011: What NBC Should Do

It is May which means Upfront Season! This week, I am looking at what each network SHOULD do. I'd like to emphasize that this is not what I think they WILL do, that will be next week. This is what I would do if I was in charge of the network. With regards to the pilots, I'm basically choosing the ones that seem most appealing/most likely to hit. With that said, here we go with NBC - a network with a ton of problems. Because of that, I think NBC should be aggressive - really aggressive. What do they have to lose? It can't be much worse if at all than this year. Plus, their drama pilots sound awesome this year - they should pick up almost all of them. In fact, in this dream schedule - I picked up all but one of them.

8:00 Parenthood
10:00 Harry's Law
Mondays have been a disaster this year for NBC and they need to remake the entire night. Despite the competition from ABC, I would make this a female-skewing night. Everyone wonders if Parenthood could do better in an earlier time period. Well it's now or never, can the young skewing show find more viewers? Then shift into an older audience for the rest of the night with two 60+ stars - Don Johnson in the new and promising A Mann's World and Kathy Bates in Harry's Law, which was a self starter on a disastrous night this season. This has much more of a flow to it than any Monday lineup NBC has had this year.


8:00 The Biggest Loser
It's time to move The Biggest Loser back to an hour especially with Jillian Michaels leaving. Airing it for just one hour would strengthen the 8pm hour as the results would air in that hour. At 9pm, I would try some multi-camera comedies. NBC needs some to broaden its comedy audience again and while there aren't a bunch of options in development, the Kari Lizer project seems promising while the Dan Goor project could go either way. Still, NBC needs to try multi-camera shows. At 10pm, Playboy could be a self starter if the comedies don't click. It will certainly get a sampling and if it's any good, it could be an improvement over Parenthood in this slot and more fitting for the 10pm hour.

9:00 GRIMM
10:00 Law & Order: SVU
NBC needs to completely revamp 8-10pm on this night. When a revamp needs to happen, there's no need to move modestly performing shows here. Just go with new ones. Wonder Woman will be a self starter at first but it will need to be good quality to avoid big drops. Still, it's probably the surest bet for an 8pm launch. Grimm is very intriguing and seems like it could be a good bridge between the fantasy of Wonder Woman and the dark Law & Order: SVU. It might be different enough to get a sampling in a very difficult hour. Law & Order: SVU does not work at 9pm and needs to stay put at 10pm.

8:00 SMASH
9:00 The Office
9:30 Parks and Recreation
10:30 30 Rock
NBC's real problem on Thursday is the 8pm hour, not the 10pm hour where 30 Rock has been performing well enough. I would start the night off with the highly anticipated Smash. It couldn't do worse than the comedies have been doing and if it is as good as advertised, it could put a dent in the strength of FOX's X-Factor which is widely expected to get this slot for its results show. The Office should remain at 9pm and Parks and Recreation should follow as The Office next season is a wildcard and may not be strong enough to launch a new comedy. Instead, I would save that new comedy for 10pm with Chelsea Handler's new show, which sounds like a 10pm comedy anyway. Finally, I would slide 30 Rock back an hour. It has been admirable at 10pm and could probably not be much worse at 10:30pm - it would take the pressure off and would likely do stronger than a new show to close out the night. NBC's three hours of comedy haven't been a disaster because of the 10pm shows. It's the night overall, particularly the 8pm hour.

8:00 Minute to Win It
9:00 Who Do You Think You Are?
10:00 Dateline NBC
NBC isn't ready to go back to scripted programming here. This unscripted lineup would be serviceable enough for a night that NBC can't worry about right now. Any other unscripted shows that pop up or are developed might fit here too as would a two hour Dateline.

8:00 Encores
I'd love to see networks go back to programming on Saturday but NBC is not ready to do that either. Maybe CBS, we'll get to that later this week. For now, use it to give more sampling of new shows - not more SVU reruns!

7:00 Football Night in America
8:00 Sunday Night Football
There better be football next year. Not just for NBC's sake but for my own sanity too.

MIDSEASON: Community, The Sing Off, The Voice, Celebrity Apprentice, America's Got Talent, PRIME SUSPECT, RECONSTRUCTION, 17TH PRECINCT, BENT, UNTITLED EMILY SPIVEY PROJECT
Community shouldn't have been renewed but since it was, it can be put on the back burner. It can fill in on Thursday down the road. The Sing Off, The Voice, and America's Got Talent are all success stories and NBC would be wise to keep them where they are in the year (except for starting The Voice sooner - maybe February?) The Voice could even possibly go on Sunday when football ends if Donald Trump does run for president and end Celebrity Apprentice, which I don't think he will. As far as the new shows, Prime Suspect could get a midseason promotional push in a slot that needs help. Reconstruction and 17th Precinct were too intriguing concepts to not put on my list but I'm skeptical of their broad appeal so they will be tricky to slot. The only drama I didn't include was the Stephen Gaghan project (formerly known as SILA), which doesn't sound like anything special despite the reportedly good buzz. Bent sounds promising but I couldn't find a place for it on the fall schedule. The Emily Spivey Project has a great cast and could get a nice midseason launch on Thursday or possibly another night if comedies succeed elsewhere. NBC's comedy pilots aren't nearly as appealing as their drama pilots on first glance as too many sound like more niche shows (Brave New World could be next year's Outsourced). NBC needs more broadly appealing comedies.

CANCELLED: Chuck, The Event, Chase, The Cape, Law & Order: LA, Outsourced, Perfect Couples, School Pride, America's Next Great Restaurant, The Paul Reiser Show, Friday Night Lights, Undercovers, Outlaw
All of these need to go though I'm still into The Event and grew to like Chase quite a bit. The ratings don't warrant renewals for any of these shows and with promising pilots, NBC doesn't need to keep around underperformers.

Tomorrow - check back for What FOX should do!!

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