As I said last Monday, NBC isn't doing any better this season then they were last season. In fact, as I said in excruciating detail they seem to be doing even worse, what with broadcast TV declining in viewership overall. The best this network seems to be doing is making more creative efforts with their business strategy, which they've been doing for several years now. This year, we have plans for some season and series premieres in late August riding off the Summer Olympics, along with shorter season renewals for more comedies than one would expect. In fact, we're getting four nights of comedy this season, including both the standard single-camera shows as well as two multi-camera sitcoms.
Like they did last year, NBC announced their schedule first and on Sunday afternoon at that. However, there's only one new show represented with a trailer, the fall drama Revolution. As such, I have to admit that the rest of the crop won't be too easy to judge, since there's only so much I can gleam from an out-of-context clip. I suppose the same can be said of a trailer, but at least those try to give you the premise. Or maybe proper trailers will be posted later in the week, we'll see.
As far as Midseason is concerned, the comedies include Save Me with Anne Heche, a fictional First Family of the United States in 1600 Penn and Next Caller with Dane Cook, and the dramas in waiting include Infamous and Hannibal, the latter being about exactly what it sounds like. The reality shows debuting midseason are Stars Earn Stripes, Howie Mandel's White Elephant, Ready for Love from Eva Longoria, and Surprise with Jenny McCarthy, with returning reality shows Betty White's Off Their Rockers and The Biggest Loser similarly on standby. With that, we go to the Fall Schedule for the Peacock.
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8/7c - The Voice (Reality Competition; 3rd Season)
10/9c - REVOLUTION (New Drama; Follows a band of survivors in Chicago fifteen years after a cataclysm wipes out all electronic technology)
Reportedly, NBC intends on doing two cycles of The Voice this season. That's the first I've ever heard of from a talent/singing competition, adding a surprise to the more expected decision to put the show on in the fall. With that, I can never again fault NBC for not being ambitious enough, and wish them the best. And following this show, we have a truly ambitious premise for a new drama. It wasn't just the trailer of Revolution that got me hyped as all hell, but the teaser image showing the cast over a fauna-covered city. All I could think of as the trailer went on about how "We used technology for everything in our lives, and then it disappeared" was "Yes! Yes! Quoted for truth! Epic win!" That is exactly how our American civilization works. It got me totally excited. After cooling off for a while, I was able to consider the finer details therein. This show, from executive producer J.J. Abrams and created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural), represents the first survivalist, post-apocalyptic drama on network TV since Jericho. Since then, we've been honored to see cable dramas offering similar scenarios like The Walking Dead or Falling Skies, the latter from Abram's partner on last Summer's blockbuster Super 8, Steven Spielberg. I shouldn't have to tell you about why Walking Dead is pure awesomesauce, but I will say that Falling Skies is a solid show with high stakes and a serious conflict at hand with the extraterrestrial invaders taking full advantage of the children of Earth. By comparison, the trailer showcases human survivors in a world without technology with still well-tailored and designed clothing, and practically no tatters in sight. This is against production design (in a pilot helmed by Iron Man director Jon Favreau) clearly having seen Life After People, allowing the Earth to reclaim the cities rendered useless by the cataclysm. On the whole, it seems to have a less edgy, more light, Hollywoodish feel than Falling Skies, but that's just the trailer. I can certainly say that not only do I want this series to succeed, I also want it to deserve to succeed.
8/7c - The Voice Results (Reality Competition; 3rd Season)
9/8c - GO ON (New Comedy; Matthew Perry is a radio host who goes into counseling before he can go back on the air)
9:30/8:30c - THE NEW NORMAL (New Comedy; A gay couple recruits a mother having moved in from the Midwest as their surrogate)
10/9c - Parenthood (Drama; 4th Season)
Interestingly, we don't see The Biggest Loser here in the fall for the first time, instead putting it on standby and trying two new comedies to go with The Voice. Matthew Perry's new show seems okay, and I'm honestly hoping that The New Normal turns out well. The latter has Ellen Barkin, who I thought did really well on Modern Family earlier this season as Phil's real estate nemesis, as the surrogate's closed-minded mother. As for the casting on the main couple, we have Justin Bartha of The Hangover, and I look forward to my first experience with one major actor from The Book of Mormon, Andrew Rannells. (Incidentally, another actor from that Broadway musical, Josh Gad will surface on the midseason comedy 1600 Penn.)
8/7c - ANIMAL PRACTICE (New Comedy; A major veterinarian must confront his new boss at the hospital)
8:30/7:30c - GUYS WITH KIDS (New Comedy; Three new Dads must balance their social lives with their newfound responsibilities)
9/8c - Law and Order: SVU (Drama; 14th Season)
10/9c - CHICAGO FIRE (New Drama; From Dick Wolf, about the personal and professional lives of members of a Fire Company)
What catches my eye on this night is the sole surviving Law and Order series, moving from its 10/9c stead like it did when NBC gave Jay Leno a show in prime time. This time though, we have a more interesting show to follow it. From the same famous creator we have a show about firefighters, a group that doesn't appear on TV very often. At best, they get movies and we see shows about cops and doctors, but we almost never see TV shows about firemen. Speaking as someone whose brother-in-law is a volunteer firefighter, I can honestly express hope that we can get a good show out of this, especially with someone like Dick Wolf at the helm. As for the two comedies, Animal Kingdom has decided to promote itself with a monkey. This time though, that image has a point as the monkey appears to play a major part on the show. Contrast with Unhitched, which aired on FOX in 2007 and gave us a stupid teaser with a monkey approaching one of the main characters whilst on a date. As far as the show itself is concerned, it at least has the Russo Brothers backing it up. Those two have three strong comedies under their belt, including NBC's Community. The other comedy, the multi-camera Guys With Kids seems to be riding on the same train as the movie, What to Expect When You're Expecting. The most distinctive thing I've seen associated with the show is not unlike the Dad gang in that upcoming comedy film.
8/7c - 30 Rock (Comedy; 7th Season)
8:30/7:30c - Up All Night (Comedy; 2nd Season)
9/8c - The Office (Comedy; 9th Season)
9:30/8:30c - Parks and Recreation (Comedy; 5th Season)
10/9c - Rock Center with Brian Williams (Newsmagazine)
For the most part, the composition of the former "Must See TV" night is intact. 30 Rock will return for a final, truncated season, ultimately running for as long as Growing Pains did. Up All Night managed to get by with a renewal, and Parks and Recreation is enjoying a well-earned full, 22-episode season. But standing out most of all here is that NBC isn't even bothering with a new drama at 10/9c. Instead, they seem to be hoping that Rock Center, a low-rated newsmagazine hosted by Nightly News' Brian Williams will stick here and potentially improve.
8/7c - Whitney (Comedy; 2nd Season)
8:30/7:30c - Community (Comedy; 4th Season)
9/8c - Grimm (Drama; 2nd Season)
10/9c - Dateline (Newsmagazine)
On this night, Grimm seems to have held up best by the standards of this part of the week, or at least by the standards of NBC and shows that floundered much worse on more-trafficked nights of the week. Either way, we have a solid show here. With any luck, it might improve over the next year. Especially since NBC has actually axed the unscripted entry on this night, Who Do You Think You Are? Surprisingly, they're going to take a gigantic risk and actually try comedies on this night. Of all things that could've been programmed, we have Whitney leading into Community. I haven't seen Whitney since the pilot episode last September, and I remember being unable to watch a whole second episode. It seemed like such a boring, apathetic, completely lifeless show, and it made Rules of Engagement look like Seinfeld. Naturally, I guessed that it wouldn't live to see another season after its viewership seemed to evaporate after moving to Wednesdays. But go figure, I guess it wasn't so bad considering NBC's woes. Now I want to make something clear, I don't think multi-camera comedies can't work in today's TV landscape. Hell, I've actually been watching CBS' How I Met Your Mother for five years now, and remain a loyal viewer of it. But this is a horse of a different color, and I'd be very surprised if I came across an episode of Whitney from later in the season and saw that it improved. (It should be mentioned though, that the president of the networks believes it improved in the last third of the season.) Reports seemed to have indicated that its renewal would compliment the pickup of another multi-camera show, Guys With Kids potentially forming a block to maximize ratings. Instead, Whitney gets put on before a vastly superior comedy like Community, forming perhaps the oddest couple on TV. This show with little concept of "effort" is meant to lead into one of the most successfully creative and ambitious shows around. And while I've brought Community up, I remain thankful that it's on for at least one more year, if on during a death slot. But hey, I didn't expect Grimm to fare as well as it did last season, airing every episode except one on a Friday, so honestly who knows? I'm well aware that either Chevy Chase or creator Dan Harmon will probably depart the show before it returns in the fall. I'd hate to think that such a scenario would impact the show in a bad way.
More Encores of Popular Shows
7/6c - Football Night in America
8:15 - Sunday Night Football
Sunday (After Football)
7/6c - Dateline (Newsmagazine)
8/7c - Fashion Star (Reality Competition; 2nd Season)
9/8c - The Celebrity Apprentice (Reality Competition; 6th Season)
10/9c - DO NO HARM (New Drama; A highly-regarded neurosurgeon must combat a psychotic alternate personality)
This time, I will cap things off with a look at the Sunday night schedule planned for the end of football season. We have two reality shows returning, Fashion Star managing to get a vote of confidence and looking like it'll help shake things up for NBC's reality slate. But perhaps the most interesting choice is taking long-runner The Celebrity Apprentice and only putting it on for an hour this time. Instead, a new drama Do No Harm will try itself out in a tight, potentially deadly timeslot. With that premise, I genuinely have to wonder if the creators are aware of My Own Worst Enemy, which had a similar premise with a man's dark alter ego.
And the shows that aren't returning are Are You There, Chelsea, Awake, Bent, Best Friends Forever, Chuck, Fear Factor, The Firm, Free Agents, Harry's Law, The Marriage Ref, The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, The Sing-Off, and Who Do You Think You Are?