NBC will remain # 1 among Adult 18-49 viewers for the second year in a row, thanks to Sunday Night Football, the Super Bowl, The Voice and The Blacklist.
Despite this win, the network has not been at all successful in developing hit programming. There is just one returning show from the crop of 2014-15 offerings, The Mysteries of Laura, and it is limping back. SOMETHING had to be renewed, right? Rather than start from scratch, the strategy appears to be similar to the past several years – rely heavily on dramas. The NBC fall schedule appears to have the lowest number of half-hour comedies scheduled – two – since 1978.
Taking a page from the CBS playbook, NBC is sticking with its mainstream drama programming by launching another drama in the Chicago series, Chicago Med, as well as Blindspot and The Player, which clearly derive inspiration from The Blacklist. The network is counting on this strategy to pay dividends on critically important Thursday nights, since moving Blacklist to 9PM that night. Heroes Reborn should bring in a larger audience than a completely new program, and The Player seems to be more compatible than the more complex offerings from previous line-ups, like Allegiance and The Slap.
There will only be one hour of comedies on the fall schedule, Fridays 8-9PM — a live version of Undateable and the new People Are Talking. Several other comedies are on deck as mid-season replacements, including a reboot of the classic NBC sitcom Coach, with Craig T. Nelson returning.
Overall, it looks like the network’s strategy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” At its upfront presentation, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenberg said “We’re attacking the new season with the same programming strategy that successfully turned NBC around – a slate of provocative and innovative series and events that cut through the clutter and will continue to build our momentum.” There are some concerns about The Voice holding up as it moves into its fifth year, but it is still the top-rated reality show, as ratings in other programming types continue to experience declines. Building on the success of the live airing of Peter Pan, the network will stage a live version of The Wiz in December, and, in an effort to increase the amount of family content airing on the network, NBC entered into a partnership with Dolly Parton to adapt several of her songs into movies, the first of which will be Coat of Many Colors.
NBC New Shows
BLINDSPOT, Monday 10-11PM, Drama A beautiful Jane Doe is discovered naked in Times Square, completely covered in mysterious, intricate tattoos. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. But there’s one tattoo that is impossible to miss: the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller, emblazoned across her back. “Jane,” Agent Weller and the rest of the FBI quickly realize that each mark on her body is a crime to solve, leading them closer to the truth about her identity and the mysteries to be revealed. COMMENTS: The network has high hopes for this show, giving it NBC’s best time slot, following The Voice, on Monday nights. The clips from the show went over well at the upfront, and it has been said that the network is the most optimistic about this program.
CHICAGO MED, Tuesday, 9-10PM, Drama Executive producer Dick Wolf (Law & Order) delivers the newest installment of the Chicago franchise, a look at the day-to-day chaos of the city’s most explosive hospital and the team of doctors that holds it together. They will tackle unique new cases inspired by topical events, forging relationships in the pandemonium of the emergency room, and through it all, familiar faces from the Chicago Police and Fire departments will intertwine as this third team of Chicago heroes hits the ground running. COMMENTS: Originally slated as a mid-season replacement, this Chicago Fire spinoff was about Ana Sofia, a sizzling TV superstar, and her lively family of cast and crew all competing to steal the spotlight. When the cameras turn off, the drama turns up as Ana battles pesky network execs, drunken scriptwriters, narcissistic co-stars and a familiar new on-screen love interest.
BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, Tuesday, 10-11PM, Reality NPH hosts this variety series based on the U.K.’s hugely popular Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. The show will feature comedy sketches, musical numbers, mini game shows, hidden camera pranks on celebrities and appearances by A-list stars. COMMENTS: While previous attempts at variety shows haven’t been particularly successful, NPH is very popular and could bring in a crowd for the limited 10-episode run.
HEROES REBORN, Thursday, 8-9PM, Drama A 13-episode event series, a reboot of the network’s Heroes, this program chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives. COMMENTS: While this is not a guaranteed hit, it would stand to reason that it could attract a bigger audience than a brand new drama could, given the original’s cult status. It pairs nicely as the lead-in to The Blacklist.
THE PLAYER Thursday, 10-11PM, Drama The series co-stars Wesley Snipes (Blade, White Men Can’t Jump) as a pit boss who works with a dealer for a high-stakes game where an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on the ability of a former military operative turned security expert to stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable from playing out. Can he take them down from the inside and get revenge for the death of his wife, or is it true what they say: The house always wins? COMMENTS: NBC is trying to build on the progress it made this spring by scheduling a solid programming block on this very-important-to-advertisers-night. The Player feels like a better pairing coming out of The Blacklist than previous contenders.
TRUTH BE TOLD Friday, 8:30-9PM, Comedy If you can think it, they will say it. This comedy introduces two diverse couples who are neighbors and best friends. As they go through life side by side, they can’t help but analyze and obsess about everything. From topics like sex and race, to the fact that the trusted new babysitter might just be an adult film star, nothing is out of bounds for this wildly outspoken foursome. COMMENTS: Paired with the newly all-live Undateable, these two shows represent NBC’s only foray into sitcoms, but they are placed in the Friday night graveyard.
NBC Mid-Season Replacements
COACH Craig T. Nelson reprises the iconic role that earned him an Emmy in this follow-up to the beloved series. The story picks up 18 years later, when the retired coach gets back in the game to assist his son, who was just hired as head coach at an academically exclusive university in Pennsylvania… where they know nothing about sports. Between dealing with the eggheads on campus and his hostile daughter-in-law at home, Coach will soon learn that he’s not in Minnesota anymore.
CROWDED After 20 years of parenting, empty nesters Mike (Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld) and Martina (Carrie Preston, True Blood) are finally reclaiming their wild side. But when both of their grown daughters unexpectedly move back in and Mike’s parents scratch their plans to spend their golden years in Florida, their roost is full again. Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes is an executive producer.
HOT & BOTHERED If you think the steamy sex, sensational scandals and heart-wrenching heartbreak on Latino soap operas are a little extreme, just wait until you see what happens behind the scenes! Eva Longoria stars in this new comedy about Ana Sofia, a sizzling TV superstar, and her lively family of cast and crew all competing to steal the spotlight. When the cameras turn off, the drama turns up as Ana battles pesky network execs, drunken scriptwriters, narcissistic co-stars and a familiar new on-screen love interest.
SUPERSTORE America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Ben Feldman (Mad Men) star in a workplace c omedy about a family of employees at a super-sized mega store. From the bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans to the clueless summer hires and the in-it-for-life managers, together they tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions.
YOU, ME & THE END OF THE WORLD In this adrenaline-fueled new comedy/drama, the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course with Earth sets in motion an unexpected chain of events. It stars Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation), Jenna Fischer (The Office), and Megan Mullally (Will & Grace). The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways.
GAME OF SILENCE This show follows a successful Atlanta attorney whose long-lost childhood friends unexpectedly reappear after 25 years. When a dark secret they thought they’d buried resurfaces, the brotherhood bands together to right the wrongs of their shared past – a journey that will push the limits of their loyalty and quench their thirst for revenge.
SHADES OF BLUE Jennifer Lopez stars as New York detective and single mother Harlee Santos, who fell in with a tight-knit group of dirty cops, taking bribes and protection money, that she uses to provide the best life for her honest, talented daughter. But when she’s trapped by the FBI and forced to inform on her own “brothers,” she’ll have to walk the fine line between love, loyalty, honor and betrayal.
HEARTBREAKER Based on the real life and achievements of Dr. Kathy Magliato, this character-driven medical drama follows Dr. Alex Panttiere (Melissa George), an outspoken, world-renowned heart transplant surgeon, one of the few women in her field. Stubborn and fearless, Alex always operates on her own terms. She revels in a racy personal life that’s a full-time job in itself, manages the daily demands of skeptical faculty and dutiful interns, and pushes the boundaries of medical science to impressive new heights.
EMERALD CITY Swept up into the eye of a tornado, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is transported to another world – a mystical land in great peril, where an all-powerful wizard has forbidden magic and rules over many kingdoms. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen it before, where lethal warriors roam, wicked witches plot in the shadows and a young girl from Kansas becomes a headstrong heroine who holds the fate of their world in her hands.
FIRST DATES Everyone can relate to the experience of a first date: the promise of potential love when it goes well and the hilariously awkward moments if it crashes and burns. From Executive Producer Ellen DeGeneres and based on the hit U.K. format, this new series offers a voyeuristic look at a variety of real first dates happening throughout one night at the same restaurant. The audience will be along for the ride in an authentic viewing experience that plays like a real-life romantic comedy. At the end of each episode, we will find out if the participants want to see each other again for a second date or if they will go back to the drawing board.
LITTLE BIG SHOTS Executive Producers Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey brings a new variety series showcasing the nation’s most extraordinarily talented kids. Host Steve Harvey (The Original Kings of Comedy, Family Feud) will chat and even go toe-to-toe with these child prodigies after every performance, eliciting plenty of hilarious and heartwarming unscripted moments. From pint-size break-dancers to five-year-old piano virtuosos, these gifted performers will awe the nation with their talents, slay us with their cuteness and wow us with their accomplishments, proving once and for all that talent is born, not made.