NBC won the 2013-14 primetime television season in Adults 18-49, its first season-long win after a 10-year drought. Some perspective – Friends, Scrubs, Will & Grace were then all airing in primetime, not in an endless loop of syndication. NBC benefited from February’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics, but even when the 18 Olympic nights are excluded, NBC still generated the season’s #1 Adult 18-49 audience thanks to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and last season’s breakout hit, The Blacklist.
To try to maintain its first place crown, NBC has embraced a philosophy of year-round event programming, or “eventizing.” NBC’s “eventizing” covers everything from live musicals to special episodes of scripted programs, as well as arguably the year’s biggest event, the Super Bowl, which will be supported by a week of programming across NBCU platforms. Upcoming events for NBC include a live performance of Peter Pan in December 2014, 2015’s live Music Man, miniseries A.D. from producer Mark Burnett, and the return of a retooled Heroes.
There will be some bold regular programming moves this year. The Blacklist initially returns on Monday nights at 10PM, but in November will turn over the time period to launch the much buzzed-about Katherine Heigl vehicle, State of Affairs, behind the strength of The Voice’s Monday night lead-in audience.
In a seismic shift, the network is abandoning its storied but faltering “Must See” Thursday night comedy block. Despite being renewed for a seventh season, Parks & Recreation does not yet appear on the schedule, a temporary casualty of the strategy shift. The Biggest Loser will air at 8PM, following by new sitcoms Bad Judge and A to Z. In February, The Blacklist moves to 9PM, in an attempt to reinvigorate Thursday nights. The show will receive the plum post-Superbowl slot, and that episode will be the first of two parts, with the second part airing in the new Thursday time period. At 10PM, Parenthood will end its run with a 13-episode final season and will be replaced by spy thriller Allegiance.
NBC New Shows
STATE OF AFFAIRS, Monday 10-11PM, Drama To prioritize the biggest international crises facing the country for the President, one top CIA analyst, Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy), assembles the president’s daily briefing. This list of the most vital security issues brings with it moral and political judgment calls for Charlie and her group of analysts. Charlie has a close personal relationship with the President (Alfre Woodard, 12 Years a Slave) because she was once engaged to her son before a tragic terrorist attack took his life. Charlie sometimes engages in boundary-pushing behavior to avoid facing her grief. But when the clock strikes 2 a.m., she is all business – protecting her nation, serving her president and trying to get to the bottom of her fiancé’s murder. COMMENTS: Much will be riding on this show, moving to The Blacklist’s post-Voice spot in November. The show plays as a more network TV-friendly take on Showtime’s Homeland and should get a decent amount of buzz with Katherine Heigl’s return to TV.
MARRY ME, Tuesday 9-9:30PM, Comedy Six years ago, Annie and Jake bonded over their mutual love of nachos, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Now, after returning from a romantic two-week island vacation, Jake’s all set to pop the question. But before he can ask, Annie lets loose on Jake for his inability to commit – in front of their friends and family, hidden and waiting to surprise her. Jake’s perfect proposal is ruined. Jake and Annie decide to hold off on the engagement until they can do it right. The only thing we know for sure is these two are destined to be together whether they can get it together or not. COMMENTS: NBC has high hopes for this show, placing it on Tuesday nights following The Voice. It should retain some viewership and it pairs nicely with About a Boy, which follows.
THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA, Wednesday, 8-9PM, Drama Debra Messing (Will & Grace, Smash) stars as Laura Diamond, a brilliant NYPD homicide detective who balances her day job with a crazy family life that includes unruly twin boys and a soon-to-be ex-husband (Josh Lucas, Glory Road, Sweet Home Alabama) – also a cop – who just can’t seem to sign the divorce papers. The show takes a look at what it really means to be a working mom today. Things get even more complicated when her husband ironically becomes her boss at the precinct. COMMENTS: This light hearted drama leads off what could be a very heavy lineup with SVU and Chicago PD. It feels like the show is trying to be all things to all people with hints of comedy, drama, police show and family sitcom and it is unclear whether the show is successful in any of its attempts.
BAD JUDGE, Thursday 9-9:30PM, Comedy Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) knows how to have a good time, but also happens to be one of LA’s toughest criminal court judges. She has a reputation for unorthodox behavior in the courtroom, including creative sentencing and saying exactly what’s on her mind. Her private life is anything but innocent. She parties too much and rocks out on the drums in a band with her best friend. She’s not ready to settle down… except when an eight-year-old boy – whose parents were put in jail by Rebecca – needs her help. He may be the one thing that starts to tame this “bad” judge. Executive Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. COMMENTS: This show will air in the Thursday 9PM hour until November, when The Blacklist moves into the spot. Given her past in dramatic roles, Kate Walsh manages to hold her own with the wacky dialogue, but the show sometimes veers into annoying and “are they serious?” territory.
A TO Z, Thursday 9:30-10PM, Comedy This is the A-to-Z story of Andrew (Ben Feldman, Mad Men) and Zelda – a pair that almost wasn’t – and all that happened from the day they met. Andrew has always been a secret romantic with dreams of finding “the one.” He imagines her to be just like that shimmering beauty he spotted that night in that silver dress at that concert two years ago. Zelda, having grown up with a hippie mom, rebelled into a no-nonsense practical lawyer who prefers the control of online dating. Andrew and Zelda meet for the first time and despite their differences, sparks fly. She thinks it’s chance. He thinks it’s fate. Is it true love forever or just a detour in destiny? COMMENTS: Produced by Rashida Jones, this show owes a lot to How I Met Your Mother, including its star, Cristin Milioti. Both stars are very appealing, but with a premise of the journey of a couple’s relationship from beginning to end, it remains to be seen if the story can be sustained, a la HIMYM, or if interest will wane.
CONSTANTINE, Friday 10-11PM, Drama Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine specializes in giving hell… hell. Armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and his wickedly naughty wit, he fights the good fight – or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to leave his do-gooder life behind. But when demons target Liv, the daughter of one of Constantine’s oldest friends, he’s reluctantly thrust back into the fray – and he’ll do whatever it takes to save her. Before long, it’s revealed that Liv’s “second sight,” an ability to see the worlds behind our world and predict supernatural occurrences, is a threat to a mysterious new evil that’s rising in the shadows. And now it’s not just Liv who needs protection; the angels are starting to get worried too. Together, Constantine and Liv must use her power and his skills to travel the country, find the demons that threaten our world – and send them back where they belong. COMMENTS: Paired with a stable, similarly-themed Grimm on Friday night, this show makes a nice comic book/genre block and should fare well.
NBC Mid-Season Replacements
ODYSSEY In this action drama, an international conspiracy explodes when three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide – a female soldier, a corporate lawyer and a political activist. The soldier discovers computer files that suggest a major U.S. corporation is funding jihadists. A former U.S. attorney is working on a merger deal for the same company that’s funneling money to the jihadists. The political activist meets a hacker who claims to have unearthed a massive military-industrial conspiracy. The only way these three can save their country, their families and themselves is by joining forces.
ALLEGIANCE Alex O’Connor, a young idealistic CIA analyst specializing in Russian affairs, learns a shocking secret when it’s revealed that his parents are covert Russian spies deactivated decades ago. But today the Kremlin has re-enlisted them into service as they plan a terrorist operation inside the United States that will bring America to its knees. Now it seems that Russia has one more mission – turning Alex into a spy.