Upfronts: Musings on NBC’s schedule

This week is one of the most exciting and hectic times for the television industry and those of us who like to pontificate about it — upfronts! All week the broadcast networks will be announcing their fall schedules for advertisers, which means all sorts of stories about pick-ups, cancellations and armchair quarterbacking from people like me in response to the new schedules. So I’ll be chiming in every day with my thoughts on new schedules. Obviously I haven’t seen any of the new series and I won’t pretend as if I know anything outside of the small tidbits of information gathered from press releases. But I still have something to say, damnit!

So, NBC’s up first.

MONDAY
8-9 p.m. Chuck
9-10 p.m. The Event
10-11 p.m. Chase

Thoughts: I like this night for NBC, but was it completely necessary to keep Chuck at 8? I’m guessing NBC just assumes the audience is the audience and so why waste The Event‘s prospects by putting it at 8 p.m. and having Chuck follow, but in the same vein, Chuck won’t be a great lead-in for The Event if the network wants it to be a major hit. I would have loved to see Chuck on another night like Wednesday, but I can’t fault NBC’s plan for that night — at least at 8 p.m. — and I’ll talk about that in a little bit. Chuck also feels too light for the series following it, and it really makes more sense to me to put Law & Order: SVU with these new series, instead of creating a tonally weird transition on Wednesdays between 8 p.m. and the second two hours just like there is here. One thing I’ll say about this block of programming: I’d be willing to sit down with all of them on a Monday night. Chase doesn’t look fantastic or anything, but it’s worth a chance on Mondays at 10 p.m. where no network has had anything to offer me this season.

TUESDAY
8-10 p.m. The Biggest Loser
10-11 p.m. Parenthood

Thoughts: No surprises here whatsoever. Loser is a steady performer and Parenthood has been performing very nicely against stiff competition in the 10 p.m. slot — competition that might not be there next season. I still think it feels like a 9 p.m. series though.

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. Undercovers
9-10 p.m. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10-11 p.m. L&O: Los Angeles

Thoughts: Like I said up there with Monday, weird tonal transition from Undercovers to the grizzly SVU, something that could have been prevented. And as Dan Fienberg noted in his thoughts on the schedule, didn’t we already figure out that SVU works much better as a 10 p.m. program? Finally, leave it to NBC to give us a double shot of Law & Order. I understand the need to build an audience for the new version of the series, but I’ll be interested in how that decision plays out with viewers, especially considering people were obviously burnt out on the original L&O anyway. Thus, I personally — and what do I really know? — would have put Chuck on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. to lead-in to Undercovers with the new Law & Order after that. Though that disrupts my Chuck can’t lead in to a new series comment. Damnit, I’m blinded by Chuck favoritism and want it so bad to last past season four.

On the positive side, there’s a lot of real estate to be staked out at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, and Undercovers is definitely the network’s best bet for a hit from this slate of newbies. So maybe I’m not good at this at all.

THURSDAY
8- 8:30 p.m. Community
8:30-9 p.m. 30 Rock
9-9:30 p.m. The Office
9:30-10 p.m. Outsourced
10-11 p.m. Love Bites

Thoughts: This is where everyone is enraged, and rightfully so. NBC’s best comedy and probably the best comedy on television right now, Parks and Recreation, has been bumped to midseason. After the early pick-up and extra work to make sure Poehler’s pregnancy didn’t interfere and the two new cast members, this is what they get? Bad form, NBC. I do see the need to build new series off of The Office while it still has some sort of relevance, but I hoped that series would be Parks! Outsourced looks, in a word, horrible and is thus a waste of that space. However, 30 Rock‘s bump to 8:30 hopefully means Parks will return to the schedule at the 9:30 spot. Hopefully. Love Bites makes it a full comedy night for NBC, and they still have a handful of comedies for midseason. Surely they’ll have to plug some other comedies in somewhere, either on another night or while these are on break.

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. Who Do You Think You Are?/School Pride
9-10 p.m. Dateline NBC
10-11 p.m. Outlaw

Thoughts: I’m confused. At the tail end of last week, there were numerous stories about the Jimmy Smits project Outlaw and how it had zoomed up the list of possible pilots making it to series as if it were so amazing NBC couldn’t stop its power anymore. And then they pick it up…and dump it on Fridays at 10 p.m. Again, I’m confused. School Pride is like Extreme Home Makeover only with schools. Cool.

SATURDAY
Reruns

Thoughts: Stop.

SUNDAY
7- 8:15 p.m. Football Night in America
8:15-11:30 p.m. NBC Sunday Night Football

Thoughts: Faith Hill!

SUNDAY (beginning March 2011)
7-8 p.m. Dateline NBC
8-9 p.m. Minute to Win It
9-11 p.m. The Celebrity Apprentice

Thoughts: Has NBC just completely given up on competing on Sundays? I know those two cheap series bring in decent numbers, but my lord with the Celebrity Apprentice garbage. I suspected that the network would try to launch some dramas on Sunday nights in the spring and save the reality junk for space fillers or Fridays, but I guess not?

MIDSEASON: The Cape, Friends With Benefits, Perfect Couples, Harry’s Law and The Paul Reiser Show

Thoughts: The Cape looks mildly interesting and includes Summer Glau — which means I’m watching. Harry’s Law is another David E. Kelley project, one that I suspected NBC would use to re-launch their Sunday nights, something that could definitely still happen. The other three comedies join Parks to create a huge cluster-youknowwhat of comedies. In the end, it might have been smarter to hold the new Law & Order to midseason and use Wednesday to start another comedy block. I think a Chuck, Undercovers and two comedies combination could have been interesting.

NBC has a lot of work to do, and though a few of their new series seem at least partially interesting, some of their scheduling choices are questionable. It’s impossible to say what will happen, but I can’t help but to think the network will just screw up in the end anyway.

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