NBC was the first network to reveal its schedule during upfront week, and the network touted its stability to the advertisers. NBC slipped to No. 2 this season in the 18-49 demo after two years on top, but NBC Entertainment Chairman Rob Greenblatt said, “There’s very little upheaval. This is the first time in a long time we are not running around and throwing shows up against a wall.” The network is returning five freshman series from the 2015-16 season and is introducing just three new series to the fall line-up, which Greenblatt said is “unprecedented.” It did still cancel ten series this season.
NBC’s No. 1 program, Sunday Night Football, typically ends well past 11PM, so the network can’t use it to help any of its new shows this fall. Instead, the network is making the most of its No. 2 show, The Voice, to launch all three of its new fall series. The drama Timeless will air in the same coveted 10PM time slot on Mondays that helped turn The Blacklist and Blindspot into hits. Timeless will follow The Voice, still a powerhouse, re-energized this year with the first panel to feature two female coaches – Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus. The highly anticipated, super buzzy This is Us, starring Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, will also follow The Voice on Tuesdays at 9PM. The trailer for the show crossed the 50 million views mark on Facebook just 11 days after the release.
NBC will get a boost in prime from football this fall, as the network will air five Thursday Night Football games as part of a new sharing deal with the NFL and CBS. NBC doesn’t broadcast those games until late November and December so “it’s actually not very disruptive” to the network’s fall line-up, as that allows its Thursday shows to air for eight weeks before football begins, said Jeff Bader, NBC Entertainment’s president of program planning, strategy and research.
Also new on Thursday night — comedy! Midseason hit Superstore starts off the night at 8PM – it will get a boost by airing an original episode during the summer Olympics coverage in August. Superstore leads into The Good Place, a comedy starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson (starring in an NBC comedy for the first time since Cheers went off the air in 1993).
If the newly released schedule emphasizes constancy in the fall, it simultaneously seems to show the network moving towards placing less of an emphasis on the fall season as the place to launch series. “Fall is obviously still important, but increasingly so, midseason and summer are as important as the fall,” Greenblatt said. NBC is saving many of its new shows for midseason, and it certainly has a deep bench from which to pull. After Sunday Night Football ends in January, NBC will bring back its midseason hit Little Big Shots, followed by Dick Wolf’s Chicago Justice (the fourth entry in the Chicago franchise) and the Jennifer Lopez drama Shades of Blue. Viewers can also look forward to a new season of Celebrity Apprentice, hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
NBC remains invested in live programming, which it sold as the best way to reach a captive audience. Greenblatt said that as a whole, NBCU networks air around 17,000 hours of live TV per year across news, sports, entertainment. “Audiences love the live experience,” he said. “It gives us unparalleled opportunities to reach millions of customers who are really engaged.” In 2016-17, the network has planned a follow-up to the 2015 holiday hit Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors with Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. Also scheduled is Hairspray Live!, with Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short and Derek Hough, and Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men.
NBC New Shows
TIMELESS, Monday 10-11PM, Drama A mysterious criminal steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. The only hope is an unexpected team: a scientist, a soldier and a history professor, who must use the machine’s prototype to travel back in time to critical events. While they must make every effort not to affect the past themselves, they must also stay one step ahead of this dangerous fugitive. But can this handpicked team uncover the mystery behind it all and end his destruction before it’s too late? COMMENTS The network has high hopes for this show, giving it one of the best time slots – post The Voice, on Monday nights, which helped launch The Blacklist and Blindspot, both bonafide hits. Sci-Fi is a big theme in this year’s programming options, and the show, though slickly produced, will have to fight to attract and keep viewers with an engaging storyline.
THIS IS US, Tuesday, 9-10PM, Drama This show is an honest and provocative series that follows a unique ensemble. As their paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways, we find that several of them share the same birthday – and so much more than anyone would expect. COMMENTS Get excited, Parenthood fans! The trailer has crossed the 50 million views mark on Facebook, doing it in just 11 days. Factoring in additional views on YouTube, Moviefone’s Facebook post and elsewhere, the trailer for the new series has been watched almost 70 million times. The total does not include plays on nbc.com. Taking that into account, the trailer’s viewership is estimated to be between 70 million and 80 million. Those are totals that put the ensemble dramedy into blockbuster movie territory.
THE GOOD PLACE Wednesday, 8:30-9PM, Comedy From the executive producer of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation comes a comedy that follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman who, through an extraordinary string of events, enters the afterlife where she comes to realize that she hasn’t been a very good person. With the help of her wise afterlife mentor (Ted Danson) she’s determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome person within. COMMENTS This show looks like nothing else on TV, and was ordered straight-to-series at the initial pitch, as a 13-episode short series run. This gives the network some scheduling flexibility, allows the show to run straight through without breaks, and eases the pressure to find a long running series.
NBC Mid-Season Replacements
GREAT NEWS Getting along with some colleagues can be rough, but working with your mom? That’s a whole other story. When Katie, an up-and-coming news producer, finds out her overbearing mom (Andrea Martin, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) has rejoined the workforce as an intern at Katie’s TV station, it might just be the worst news ever. But with her biggest cheerleader at her side, Katie might finally get the recognition she deserves! Executive producers are Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and the producers of 30 Rock.
CHICAGO JUSTICE Dick Wolf delivers a new installment to the hit Chicago franchise. Just like their brethren in the Chicago P.D., the state’s attorney’s dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators navigates heated city politics and controversy head-on, while fearlessly pursuing justice. As they take on the city’s high-stakes and often media-frenzied cases, they must balance public opinion, power struggles within the system, and their passion for the law.
THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION In this spin-off of NBC’s series, undercover operative Tom Keen joins forces with Susan “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen), the chief of Grey Matters, a covert mercenary organization that solves problems governments don’t dare touch. While on the hunt for Liz’s attacker, Tom secretly discovered that Scottie is actually his biological mother, which drew him closer to her. Now, as they team up to employ their unique skills and resources in a dangerous world of deadly criminals, Tom begins his own mission to find out more about his shadowy past.
TAKE This edge-of-your-seat thriller, an addition to the action film franchise, follows the origin story of younger, hungrier, former Green Beret Bryan Mills as he deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world. As he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge, Mills is pulled into a career as a deadly CIA operative, a job that awakens his very particular, and very dangerous, set of skills.
MIDNIGHT, TEXAS Welcome to a place where being normal is really quite strange. From the director of Mr. Robot and based on the hit book series comes a journey into a remote Texas town where no one is who they seem. From vampires and witches to psychics and hit men, Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different. As the town members fight off outside pressures from rowdy biker gangs, ever-suspicious cops and their own dangerous pasts, they band together and form a strong and unlikely family.
MARLON Loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie), this update to the classic family comedy centers on a loving (but immature) father committed to co-parenting his two kids with his very-together ex-wife. While his misguided fatherly advice, larger-than-life personality and unpredictable internet superstardom might get in the way sometimes, for Marlon, family really always does come first – even if he’s the biggest kid of all.
POWERLESS In the first comedy series set in the universe of DC Comics, Vanessa Hudgens plays Emily, a spunky young insurance adjuster specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused by the crime-fighting superheroes. But it’s when she stands up to one of these larger-than-life figures (after an epic battle messes with her commute) that she accidentally becomes a cult “hero” in her own right… even if it’s just to her group of lovably quirky co-workers. Now, while she navigates her normal, everyday life against an explosive backdrop, Emily might just discover that being a hero doesn’t always require superpowers.
TRIAL AND ERROR In this fish-out-of-water comedy, Josh Segal, a bright-eyed New York lawyer, heads to a tiny Southern town for his first big case. His mission? To defend an eccentric, “rollercizing” poetry professor (John Lithgow, 3rd Rock from the Sun) accused of the bizarre murder of his beloved wife. Settling into his makeshift office behind a taxidermy shop and meeting his quirky team of local misfits, Josh suspects that winning his first big case will not be easy – especially when his client is always making himself look guilty.
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.