Predicting NBC’s Fall Schedule

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I have a confession to make — when I can’t fall asleep at night, instead of counting sheep like a normal person, I start putting together the networks’ fall schedules in my head.

Weird, right?

With the annual network upfronts set to begin next week, I will soon get to see how the fruits of my sleepless nights play out next to the work of the professional network schedulers. It’s the moment TV geeks like me wait for all year!

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to put my ideas of what the nets should do out into the world. First up — NBC, whose upfront is Monday May 13.

I will spare you all a rehash of NBC’s sorry current state of affairs. Besides, Vulture’s Joe Adalian did a much better job than I could have hoped to have done of that in a bang-up post yesterday. Instead, I’ll dive right into the meat and potatoes — what will make the fall schedule? (Keep in mind, I have neither read the pilot scripts nor seen the completed episodes, so guesses about new shows are just that — guesses.)

NBC took some of the uncertainty out of things a couple of weeks ago by renewing its five best performing dramas: Revolution, Parenthood, Chicago Fire, Law and Order: SVU and Grimm. Each was awarded a full-season, 22-episode order, meaning they are all likely to appear on the fall schedule. (I was particularly thrilled to see Parenthood get that vote of confidence from the network — not only is it one of the best dramas on television, it was one of NBC’s few shows to actually gain in the Nielsen ratings this season). They have yet to announce comedy renewals, and, according to Deadline’s latest report, are very happy with their comedy pilots, but Parks and Recreation is considered a sure-thing, with Go OnCommunity and The New Normal said to be hanging on for dear life.

Aldalian hypothesizes that NBC may take advantage of the declining fortunes of American Idol by moving The Voice to a Wednesday-Thursday airing. As you’ll see below, I can’t imagine them messing with the one good thing they have going, and believe they’ll leave The Voice where it is, creating a Monday 10PM launching pad for its most promising new drama. This past season their fall season featured two new dramas — one high concept (Revolution) and one more traditional (Chicago Fire). Assuming they take the same route this year, I’m predicting either Blacklist (starring James Spader), Believe (from producer J.J. Abrams) or Crisis (formerly referred to as the Untitled Rand Ravich project) to make the fall schedule in the high concept slot, and either medical drama After Hours or John Stamos-starrer I Am Victor to take the other slot.  

Having the Tuesday edition of The Voice lead in to The Michael J. Fox Show, which has already received a 22-episode commitment, seems like a smart move to protect that major investment. There’s bound to be interest in Fox’s return to TV, and it could provide a strong lead-in for About a Boy, from executive producer Jason Katims (ParenthoodFriday Night Lights) and starring David Walton and Minnie Driver. Having two Katims shows back-to-back sounds like heaven to me — he’s responsible for some of my favorite television in the last several years. Also, why mess with the (relative) success Parenthood has had on Tuesday nights?

The formerly hallowed Thursday at 10PM slot has proved deadly for NBC all season, starting with the ill-advised scheduling of Rock Center with Brian Williams at the beginning of the season, and then the failures of Do No Harm and Hannibal, which after starting promisingly has plummetted in recent weeks. I think instead of setting another new show up for disappointment they will put a show in that slot that has already proven itself — maybe Law and Order: SVU, but more likely Chicago Fire.

What leads up to Chicago Fire on Thursdays is where things get tricky. With NBC likely to lose most of their comedies, I’m thinking they’ll keep Go On and put Matthew Perry in his old Friends slot at 8PM and bestow the 9PM slot to survivor Parks and Recreation. As for the new comedies that will fill the 8:30 and 9:30 slots, my (wild) guesses are Assistance (starring Krysten Ritter) and Brenda Forever (starring The Office‘s Ellie Kemper), but it could just as easily be Family Guide, Untitled Sean Hayes project or Craig Robinson.

Friday’s seem a little easier to figure out, with Rock Center and Dateline sure to take up 2 hours later in the evening, and Grimm likely to kick the night off.

So — there it is. My guesses at NBC’s moves. We’ll know in less than a week how very right or very wrong I was. What do you think?

MONDAY
8:00-10:00 The Voice
10:00-11:00 Blacklist (New drama)

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 The Voice
9:00-9:30 Michael J. Fox Show (New comedy)
9:30-10:00 About a Boy (New comedy)
10:00-11:00 Parenthood

WEDNESDAY
8:00 I Am Victor (New drama)
9:00-10:00 Law and Order: SVU
10:00-11:00 Revolution

THURSDAY
8:00-8:30 Go On
8:30-9:00 Assistance (New comedy)
9:00-9:30 Parks and Recreation
9:30-10:00 Brenda Forever (New comedy)
10:00-11:00 Chicago Fire

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 Grimm
9:00-10:00 Rock Center with Brian Williams
10:00-11:00 Dateline

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About allinsparetime

Thoughts on TV, movies, theater, books and more from an opinionated pop culture addict
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