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Monday, April 30, 2012

UPFRONTS 2012: What NBC Should Do

It is time for the annual Upfront Preview! This week I will look at what the networks SHOULD do. Next week, I make my official predictions for what they will do. And then I will analyze the official schedules when they come out two weeks from now!

This schedule is basically what I think they should do within reason given the shows that have been renewed, picked up, cancelled, etc. NBC has had a terrible year with precious few bright spots. After a disastrous fall, they shored up Monday with The Voice and to a lesser extent, Smash. When the results edition of The Voice moved to Tuesdays, it helped that night too and Grimm was a surprise on Fridays. However, Wednesdays and Thursdays are complete disasters and there are holes on other nights too. NBC has some real promising pilots especially in the drama department and they need to be aggressive. I said that last year and then felt they weren't aggressive enough. So here's what I would do.

8:00 The Voice
10:00 Smash
I had a really tough time with this. I understand why NBC feels the need to start The Voice in the fall and I guess at this point, I agree with them. They need a cornerstone to their network and it can't just be half a year. It might make fatigue set in sooner but oh well, NBC needs to turn things around now. I liked when I heard the idea that there were going to be different coaches in the fall and spring, but I haven't heard much recently. I feel like that would extend its life by keeping it more fresh. As for 10pm, part of me wants to put a new drama at 10pm but honestly, this is the only night working for NBC, so many other nights need more overhaul, and Smash is good counter-programming to Hawaii Five-0 and Monday Night Football. I would run Smash in the fall because of that and either give it only half a season or move it elsewhere in the spring and launch a new drama after The Voice in the spring. I would, however, use the first night of The Voice to preview one of their new dramas at 10pm and let Smash start in week two.

8:00 The Biggest Loser
9:00 The Voice
Tuesdays are interesting. NBC better not do two hour editions of The Biggest Loser anymore. Those episodes have been inflated for so long and it strengthens the 8pm hour to only have it there. I would air The Voice right from the start on Tuesdays with additional blind audition rounds and then the results shows. It might be overkill but NBC needs The Voice in as many spots as possible right now. They just do, given their situation. At 10pm, I would launch a promising new drama and I think a good fit would be Chicago Fire which sounds like a good traditional procedural from the logline.

8:00 The Office
8:30 Parks and Recreation
10:00 Parenthood
Wednesdays need a complete overhaul. I considered putting Whitney back at 8pm but then when I decided what I wanted to do with Thursdays, I needed a spot for the aging single camera sitcoms. I would bring back The Office for one final season (as well as 30 Rock) and pair it with its companion, Parks and Recreation on a different night. Thursdays need a complete overhaul so why keep anything there. Instead, let these go to Wednesdays because most of them are on their last legs anyway and Wednesdays need something different. For the final two hours, I would pair the two Jason Katims dramas. I thought about flipping the two but I wouldn't want all the new dramas launching at 10pm. County could be good counter-programming in the very tough Wednesday 9pm timeslot.

9:00 1600 PENN
9:30 GO ON
10:00 Law & Order: SVU
NBC needs to kick-start what has been a very famous night for comedies since the 1980s. To do so, I would completely overhaul. It worked for ABC on Wednesdays two years ago and could dull CBS's attempt to go to four comedies here if they do. After all, networks had four sitcom blocks against each other all the time in the 1990s when sitcoms were booming and they're booming again. I would start with the two most promising multicams - shows from Roseanne and Jimmy Fallon. At 9pm, I would put the also promising 1600 Penn and then follow with the Matthew Perry starrer Go On. I'm not sure I believe that Go On will work but it's already been picked up so it has to go somewhere. At 10pm, I would get Law & Order: SVU away from CSI and put it in a slot that has been horrible to NBC recently. It can't do worse than Prime Suspect, The Firm, and Awake.

8:00 Dateline NBC
9:00 Grimm
Fridays have one show that is actually working for NBC in Grimm. I would move Dateline from 10pm to 8pm so it doesn't have to directly compete with 20/20 anymore. At 10pm, I would launch Hannibal as a spooky counterpart to Grimm. If anything can work on Fridays, this could and the expectations are lower. NBC could have a nice little spookfest on Friday nights here. It seems like a perfect fit to me.

8:00 Encores
NBC is not ready for Saturday originals. In fact, they're the furthest from it. But as I said last year, use it to give more exposure to new shows, not more SVU reruns!

7:00 Football Night in America
8:00 Sunday Night Football 
Of course football will be here on Sunday nights in the fall and if it's another terrible fall, it will bail NBC out every week.

NBC has not had a great track record in the fall so I would stack up on midseason shows. 30 Rock should be renewed for one final season and air where they need it. Betty White's Off Their Rockers can plug in almost anywhere - maybe even Sunday nights at midseason. Celebrity Apprentice can continue on Sunday nights. It's not doing great but a 2 in the demo is good for NBC. Fear Factor would be a good bridge between the two editions of The Voice. I would actually renew Whitney as use it as a plug-in if one of the Thursday comedies bombs or pair it with 30 Rock on Wednesdays if County fails. As for the new shows, I think all the comedies have potential and NBC could continue to expand its comedy presence. I would just wait and see with these shows. As for the dramas, Bad Girls could be a Monday 10pm contender at midseason, same goes for Notorious. I so badly want a western on network TV so maybe The Frontier is wishful thinking. If Grimm and Hannibal work together, how great would it be to add Mockingbird Lane to the mix at 8pm?

CANCELLED: Are You There Chelsea?, Awake, Bent, Best Friends Forever, Chuck, Community, Fashion Star, The Firm, Free Agents, Harry's Law, The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, Rock Center with Brian Williams, The Sing Off, Up All Night, Who Do You Think You Are?, Who's Still Standing?
NBC has a lot of dead weight and I would cancel all these including Community and Up All Night. NBC can't renew all their low rated sitcoms. I would also cancel Harry's Law just because the only place it might go would be Fridays and I have other thoughts for that night. Even though the total viewer number is good, it is getting below a 1 in the demo.

Tomorrow: FOX! 

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