Armchair Scheduling: NBC Fall 2011

My goal was to get all of my armchair scheduling pieces up by this past Monday, but that clearly did not happen. Still, I wanted to weigh in on some of the decisions that new NBC President Bob Greenblatt has made over the last few days. As @BigTVFan astutely pointed out earlier this week, it seems as though Greenblatt is shifting the network’s focus towards women, which I personally think is a mistake.

NBC’s comedies may not set the world on fire with their ratings, but they are the best on TV. When you have a core competency (ie. Must See TV Thursday) that skews towards young males, I’d reason that’s the audience you should be targeting. Never mind the fact that ABC already targets middle-aged women and The CW targets younger women, while no broadcast network actively courts young men.

NBC had several pilots in development this year on the comedy side that I was excited about, none more so than Peter Tolan’s Brave New World and Dan Goor’s Family Practice. And, had I written this piece last week, they would have been included in my mock schedule below. Alas, the peacock passed on both shows yesterday, presumably because they were too much like the “niche” comedies they already have. I put niche is quotations, because I don’t buy into the notion that Community’s audience is its audience or that Parks and Recreation can’t cultivate a bigger following; I just think they need a hefty promotional push.

On the drama side, NBC picked up pretty much what I expected them to. They passed on high profile pilots Wonder Woman and 17th Precinct, but both had tested poorly so that wasn’t much of a shock. The one surprise, to my mind, was their decision to order Grimm over Metro or A Man’s World. Grimm has drawn mixed reviews from both brass and critics and doesn’t have the pedigree of either Metro or A Man’s World. Apparently, Greenblatt thought Metro was too high concept for broadcast, which I can see, but A Man’s World would have paired nicely with Harry’s Law.

Lately, there has been talk that NBC will bring their new reality hit The Voice back as early as September. If they do that, they stand the risk of potentially killing a viable franchise before it has time to sprout legs. Far more likely would be a decision to move The Sing Off to fall, though that would conflict with judge Nicole Scherzinger’s new gig as the host of X-Factor. All that being said, my predictions are below.

Monday Night

8pm: Chuck

9pm: Parenthood

10pm: Awake

Chuck was picked up because its cheap and stable, so I don’t see them moving it. Theoretically, the show will run for 13 consecutive weeks and then wrap for good, but I can see NBC handing it a back 9. If NBC is wise, they’ll move Parenthood to 9pm. The show does not belong at 10pm. At 10pm, look for NBC to launch their most anticipated new drama (at least in my book), Awake.


8pm: Up All Night

8:30pm: Whitney

9pm: The Biggest Loser

Greenblatt has made it clear that he wants to carve out another night on the schedule for comedy, and this will be the beginning of that. Up All Night has two known stars in Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, and stands the best chance of competing with Tim Allen’s Last Days of Man should ABC slot that here. Whitney gets the 8:30pm slot simply because is tested better than Are You There Vodka? At 9pm, NBC will likely air The Biggest Loser but they’d be better served airing The Sing Off.

Wednesday Night

8pm: Minute to Win It

9pm: Prime Suspect

10pm: Law & Order: SVU

Chase didn’t do well airing in front of Law & Order: SVU on Wednesdays this spring, but Chase didn’t do well on Mondays either. If history tells us anything, its that moving SVU to 9pm is a mistake, so Prime Suspect gets to anchor the night and face X-Factor. At 8pm, Minute to Win It is low risk cannon fodder.

Thursday Night

8pm: Parks and Recreation

8:30pm: Community

9pm: The Office

9:30pm: Free Agents

10pm: The Playboy Club

I’ve heard talk that 30 Rock may sit out in the fall, due to Tina Fey’s pregnancy, so this schedule operates under that assumption. Should 30 Rock air in the fall, look for NBC to hold Free Agents until midseason with 30 Rock leading off the night and Parks and Rec airing behind The Office. At 10pm, many are assuming Greenblatt will launch his pet-project Smash, but a new report suggests he’ll hold it until midseason and pair it with The Voice. If Smash is held, The Playboy Club may slip in here, as it is buzzy and likely to skew male.

Friday Night

8pm: Harry’s Law

9pm: The Firm

10pm: Dateline NBC

Moving Harry’s Law to Friday will help NBC eat into CBS’ foothold on the night. Part of me thinks Greenblatt will be hesitant about slotting The Firm on Fridays, even if it seems like a natural companion, but I’m not sure where else on the schedule it would fit. Though, it is plausible that NBC may try The Firm on Mondays at 10pm, where Harry’s Law failed to attract young viewers, which would bump Awake to Thursdays at 10pm and The Playboy Club to midseason.






Are You There Vodka

30 Rock

The Voice

Who Do You Think You Are?

The Sing Off

The Celebrity Apprentice

NBC may have passed on the two comedy pilots I cared most about, but it did issue orders to several others. If Up All Night and Whitney gain traction on Tuesday nights, NBC may expand that line-up with Bent and Are You There Vodka? come midseason. BFFs was a low risk pick-up, as the show is produced on a micro-budget. NBC will also have a plethora of unscripted programming to premiere at the midseason mark, including The Voice, The Sing Off, and The Celebrity Apprentice. Assuming they hold both Grimm and Smash until January, expect the former to go the way of The Cape while the latter becomes a four-quadrant hit.


One Response to Armchair Scheduling: NBC Fall 2011

  1. Pingback: Guessing The Upfronts: NBC | Random Musings from a BigTVfan

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