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Sunday, May 10, 2015

UPFRONTS 2015: NBC's Official Fall Schedule

Upfronts weeks is here!

Past NBC schedule analysis: 2014   2013   2012   2011

MONDAYS
8:00 The Voice (9th Edition)
10:00 BLINDSPOT
After the debacle this year of starting State of Affairs late to give The Blacklist more time in this slot, NBC is going back to basics next year with a high profile drama premiering after The Voice. The conspiracy thriller Blindspot is the lucky drama and it's definitely NBC's attempt to recreate the magic The Blacklist had in this slot in 2013-14. It's a bit of a tougher sell though and it doesn't have a name like James Spader fronting it. However, it will get a ton of promotion and the best possible chance to succeed. If NBC thinks Blindspot is their best new drama, then this was the right move.

TUESDAYS
8:00 The Voice (9th Edition)
9:00 HEARTBREAKER
10:00 BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS/Chicago Fire (4th Season)

Tuesdays are very odd. The smart move is NBC abandoning the Tuesday comedy block. They tried with all types of comedies and nothing worked after The Voice. So now they will try a drama. They are going with the soapy Heartbreaker which doesn't look like anything special from the trailer and could have a hard time connecting with audiences. There's plenty of things NBC can do with this slot for the spring edition of The Voice if this show doesn't work. The oddest choice however is at 10pm which will be Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris until November when Chicago Fire will reclaim its old slot. This is a very odd place for Best Time Ever as a variety show seems much more natural at 8pm or 9pm. Maybes it's just because it's tradition but 10pm seems like a place for drama or news, not variety. But we'll see. It will premiere after the America's Got Talent finale and get several weeks after two hours of The Voice so that will help. But if they're going to wait on Heartbreaker for a couple weeks anyway, it seems like they don't care too much about the show and it makes you wonder why they didn't just do the Neil show at 9pm and let Heartbreaker premiere in November. NBC must be confident that Chicago Fire has its own audience by now and it doesn't need lead-ins from The Voice. It seems quite possible that it will have another fall of bad lead-ins once it premieres, but it's handled that OK in the past.

WEDNESDAYS
8:00 The Mysteries of Laura (2nd Season)
9:00 Law & Order: SVU (17th Season)
10:00 Chicago PD (3rd Season)
NBC is keeping Wednesday nights exactly as is and this is clearly a defensive move on a difficult night. This year saw ABC's strongest comedy lineup yet and the monster that was Empire. Whether FOX puts Empire at 8pm or 9pm, NBC has positioned itself to be OK. They are going with The Mysteries of Laura again at 8pm in a slot where it won't do all that well but it would have been very hard to launch a new show. The only other option here was probably something unscripted like The Biggest Loser. Law & Order: SVU handled Empire fine and has handled Modern Family and Criminal Minds for years so it can do fine at 9pm while Chicago PD is of course coming back to 10pm. Even though the demos were low, there were several weeks where it won its hour and it has been a solid performer for NBC.

THURSDAYS
8:00 HEROES: REBORN
9:00 The Blacklist (3rd Season)
10:00 THE PLAYER
NBC's boldest decision in the 2014-15 season was moving The Blacklist to Thursday nights at midseason but it hasn't worked out too well. The Blacklist is partly to blame but NBC surrounded it with complete bombs in The Slap and Allegiance. They really couldn't afford to move it back because they've committed to this night now. So they are trying to surround it with better shows. They will start with the reboot, Heroes: Reborn. The show was once a big hit back in the day but it faded badly as the series went on. If 24 couldn't come back strong, I'm skeptical if Heroes can but it will likely get some early eyeballs and it certainly can't be as bad as The Slap or Blacklist repeats. At 10pm is the new Wesley Snipes thriller The Player. On paper and based on the trailer, this seems more compatible with The Blacklist than Allegiance was. But it's still going to have to bring something new to the table and hope The Blacklist hasn't lost all its steam. If this lineup falls apart as badly as the spring one did, NBC is going to have to rethink the entire night.

FRIDAYS
8:00 Undateable (3rd Season)
8:30 PEOPLE ARE TALKING
9:00 Grimm (5th Season)
10:00 Dateline NBC (25th Season)
NBC couldn't bear to deal with everyone chastising them for not having any sitcoms on the fall lineup so they are putting them in a very low pressure slot: Fridays at 8pm. They will start with season three of Undateable, airing entirely live episodes. It is followed by multi-camera sitcom People are Talking. NBC was going to have trouble with its comedies no matter where they put them so I don't have a huge problem with them being slotted here. It's hard to know what NBC will expect here but the bar won't be awfully high and I wouldn't totally count Undateable out here. However, it'll be hard for People are Talking to get any sort of traction. After a lackluster run at 8pm this spring, Grimm moves back to its familiar 9pm slot but it won't be paired with any other drama as it has for every fall since it started. This is becoming less of a priority for NBC. They're content with Grimm but they don't seem too interested in finding it a companion anymore after several failed attempts. Dateline NBC returns to 10pm for its 25th year.

SATURDAYS
8:00 Dateline NBC Encores
10:00 Saturday Night Live Classic Encores
Saturdays will stay the same as the SNL encores at 10pm have done decently.

SUNDAYS
7:00 Football Night in America (10th Season)
8:30 Sunday Night Football
Football will of course return to Sundays for NBC's 10th year with Sunday Night Football. For the first time in awhile, NBC has not announced any plans for midseason Sundays and that's probably a good ideas as they'll need to see where they are.

MIDSEASON: CHICAGO MED, COACH, CROWDED, EMERALD CITY, HOT & BOTHERED, GAME OF SILENCE, LITTLE BIG SHOT, SHADES OF BLUE, SUPERSTORE, YOU, ME, AND THE END OF THE WORLD, YOU THE JURY, The Biggest Loser, Celebrity Apprentice, The Night Shift, The Sing-Off
NBC has a whopping 15 shows on deck for some point during the season. It seems likely that at least a few will have to wait until summer but the biggest priorities for midseason are probably Chicago Med, Coach, Hot & Bothered, and Shades of Blue. Little Big Shot and You the Jury are unscripted so they can fill in anywhere. Game of Silence seems to me like it might be the one that gets held to summer while The Night Shift may return there as well. You, Me, and the End of the World is a surprise addition as its jointly produced with Britain. It wasn't announced before today but has an all-star cast of Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer, and Megan Mullally among others. Emerald City has been surprisingly quiet yet again after getting cancelled before airing once already.

CANCELLED/ENDED: A to Z, About a Boy, Allegiance, American Odyssey, Bad Judge, Constantine, Marry Me, One Big Happy, Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, The Slap, State of Affairs
Technically American Odyssey hasn't been cancelled but there's no way its coming back so I'm including it here. Look at how many first year shows are on this list. NBC needs that to not happen again.

TBD: A.D. The Bible Continues
I tend to think A.D. The Bible Continues will get cancelled too but it hasn't been officially decided by NBC and it does have a chance to come back though with so much in the hopper, I don't really see the need.

TO SUM UP
NBC is making some gutsy moves and they need to after their entire new class imploded this year. They did the right thing on Mondays and they did the best they could on Thursdays. I'm OK with the plan for Wednesday for now while Fridays are interesting. Tuesdays seems like a bit of a mess with even less flow than other years. And why save Chicago Fire, one of their most consistent and solid shows, until November? Almost anything else would have made more sense. What it all comes down to for NBC, however, is finding some new shows that work. If they can't do that, it'll get even more dire for the peacock network. I think they put their shows in a better slot to succeed but I'm not overly impressed by the trailers. The best thing NBC has going for it is so much on deck so they can keep throwing things on the schedule and hope something sticks.

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