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Monday, April 28, 2014

UPFRONTS 2014: What NBC Should Do

It's hard to believe that it's Upfront season already! This week, I am writing what I think each network SHOULD do based on some already-known things like renewals and pickups. I have not seen any pilots so this is purely based on reading about them and what I feel might be best for each network. Today is NBC!

Check out what I said NBC should do in past years: 2013   2012   2011

8:00 The Voice
NBC needs to use The Voice to launch new dramas while it's still a viable hit. The Blacklist has proven itself as a stand alone success. NBC has several epic, mini-series type dramas on the docket for next year but this slot needs to belong to a long term show with a procedural element to it, much like The Blacklist. Looking at their list of pilots, I think the best option is State of Affairs, a political drama starring Katherine Heigl. Maybe it can capture the DC drama that Scandal has on Thursdays. If all goes well, it can run the full season here like The Blacklist. If not, NBC has plenty of other dramas to launch with the spring edition of The Voice.

8:00 The Voice
9:00 A TO Z
9:30 About a Boy
10:00 Chicago Fire
The best news for NBC on Tuesdays this year is that Chicago Fire has proven to be a capable self-starter at 10pm and it doesn't need The Voice as a lead-in. Therefore, I would keep The Voice at 8pm as it has been this spring instead of sliding it back to 9pm where it was last fall. The comedies at 9pm have been serviceable and I think NBC's best bet is to renew both of them but only air one in the fall. About a Boy has been the stronger show but it has also had the 9pm post-Voice slot. I would move it back half an hour to 9:30pm and give the 9pm slot to a promising comedy such as A to Z, which is described as a "whimsical" comedy set at an online dating company. It sounds like it could be a tonal fit with About a Boy. Chicago Fire should, and probably will, stay at 10pm.

9:00 Law & Order: SVU
10:00 Chicago PD
Wednesday nights are interesting. I think the 9-11pm hours should stay put assuming NBC can get Law & Order: SVU removed. It's clear that SVU doesn't have many years left with these contract issues for a veteran show. Hopefully another year would be enough time for Chicago PD to be ready to take the 9pm slot. Revolution has done OK in the 8pm hour but NBC can't keep all their dramas and that show likely has nowhere to go but down. I would try a comedy block on Wednesdays instead of the typical NBC night of Thursdays. I would save Parks and Recreation as a filler and try new sitcoms here. The 60s space comedy Mission Control and the sitcom from Tina Fey, Tooken, seem like a fun pairing. NBC needs to try to carve out a comedy presence somewhere and they might have better success going against the ABC Wednesday block instead of the CBS Thursday block.

8:00 The Biggest Loser
9:00 The Blacklist
It's time for NBC to fully give up the "Must See TV" dream on Thursday nights. Comedies haven't worked here in a very long time and it's time to end them for now. The 8pm hour needs to be stronger and it will have to deal with competition from football and then The Big Bang Theory on CBS. A show that can handle that, in my opinion, is The Biggest Loser. It's the best option for a tough hour - better than sitcoms or a drama. The Blacklist has to go somewhere because it needs to vacate the Monday 10pm slot for a new drama. Looking at NBC's whole schedule, I think their best bet is Thursday at 9pm with hopes it can stand on its own and launch a new 10pm drama. Moving a hit show here has worked before with CBS (CSI) and ABC (Grey's Anatomy). It's time to strike while it's hot and maybe NBC can be competitive again on Thursdays. I would use the 10pm slot for one of NBC's limited series - they have several on deck: Emerald City, The Slap, and Heroes: Reborn. I think the biggest swing (and the one to try in the fall) is Emerald City. Maybe the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz can help build some momentum for this show.

8:00 Dateline NBC
9:00 Grimm
10:00 Parenthood
NBC moved Dateline NBC to 8pm this year and that worked out pretty well. They tried to air some cult shows after Grimm in Dracula and then Hannibal and that didn't work out so well. NBC has two major bubble shows around right now in Parenthood and Revolution. I think they should renew one of them, that one being Parenthood, and air it on Fridays. I think it would be a slight upgrade to the slot and Parenthood probably wouldn't do much worse on Fridays at 10pm than it is on Thursdays at 10pm. It would even have a better lead-in than it's had most of this year!

8:00 Encores
Of course. Now is not the time to start worrying about Saturdays.

7:00 Football Night in America
8:30 Sunday Night Football
Football is of course the Sunday plan. The problem, as usual, is midseason. With Celebrity Apprentice coming back, that might be good for Sundays and maybe something they can launch after the Super Bowl like Heroes: Reborn?

MIDSEASON: AQUARIUS, COERCION, EPIC FUNNIES, HEROES: REBORN, MR. ROBINSON, THE PRO, SALVATION, THE SLAP, Celebrity Apprentice, Growing Up Fisher, Hollywood Game Night, Parks and Recreation, The Sing Off
NBC should have lots of deck for midseason as they have to bridge the seasons of The Voice and fill in Sunday night plus account for potential flops. Among returning shows, Celebrity Apprentice can go to Sundays while Hollywood Game Night and The Sing Off can be December/January fillers. Growing Up Fisher and Parks and Recreation can be on tap for a comedy block somewhere if things don't go well on Tuesday at 9pm or Wednesday at 8pm. They could also take the Thurs 8pm slot if NBC only does one edition of The Biggest Loser. As for the new shows, I would launch one of their new miniseries premieres directly after the Super Bowl and Heroes: Reborn is the most name brand. The other dramas (Aquarius, Coercion, Salvation, The Slap) can go wherever there's a need while comedies The Pro and Mr. Robinson could be late season entries if a block finishes its season early. NBC could also consider split seasons for some shows with some of these entries having shorter replacement runs. Epic Funnies is an already picked up comedy show like America's Funniest Home Videos and can easily be a filler anywhere.

CANCELLED: American Dream Builders, Believe, Community, Crisis, Dracula, Hannibal, Ironside, The Michael J. Fox Show, Revolution, Sean Saves the World, Welcome to the Family
Aside from the obvious choices, it is time for Community to end. It's had enough years of squeaking out renewals for very low ratings. Revolution is a tough call but I think it'll only go lower if it stays. Same with Hannibal, which has a ton of critical love but can't get any traction.

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