By Jordan Walker
Many noticeable changes will be occurring on NBC starting next fall, including some surprising cancellations.
NBC kicked off network television’s annual upfront presentations in a big way: by ordering 12 new scripted shows and two reality series. The announcement of NBC’s fall schedule and mid-season pickups follows the big waves that the network has made in the news this week from the cancellations of dramas “Heroes” and “Law & Order.”
NBC is the network with the least to lose and the most to gain. Since the 2004-2005 season, NBC has not been able to create the groundbreaking shows that they have long been known for, leading the network to its infamous fall from first to fourth place in the ratings. The network has also been panned by critics for their lackluster programming choices that prevent the channel from rising in the ratings.
The television industry has been buzzing for the last couple of days leading up to NBC’s announcement of their new fall programming. With former NBC ratings blockbuster, but now ratings-challenged, “Heroes” getting the ax (without a proper resolution), and the demise of the 20-year-old drama “Law & Order” (one season shy of breaking the record for longest running primetime drama that “Gunsmoke” has long held), insiders were anxious to see what the peacock network had in store for the fall and winter seasons.
The announcement of the networks new shows “Undercovers” and “Chase” came early last week, days before the official unveiling of the schedule, which just shows how desperate the executives are to restore quality to their lineup and receive good press, and how confident they are that they finally have a lineup that will put them in direct competition with their rival networks.
Overall, NBC has ordered seven dramas, five comedies and one reality entry for the 2010-2011 season.
NBC’s Monday nights will consist of all hot action dramas. NBC will likely tout Monday nights as their “it” night of programming because the network will be airing two exciting and promising new dramas: “The Event,” a political conspiracy drama starring Jason Ritter and Blake Underwood at 9 p.m., and “Chase,” a new fast-paced drama about U.S. Marshalls in Texas, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, at 10 p.m. Another boost for the night is the lead in of the much beloved “Chuck” at 8 p.m.
Tuesday’s will remain the same as the 2010-2010 season, with “The Biggest Loser” airing from 8-10 p.m., followed by the second season of “Parenthood.”
The first official show to be picked up this season is J.J. Abrams’ “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” type spy drama “Undercovers,” starring Boris Kodjoe and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, kicks off Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., followed by “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” moving up to the 9 o’clock hour for its 12th season. Rounding out the night is Dick Wolf’s newest “Law & Order” spinoff, “Law & Order: Los Angeles.”
There will be big changes to NBC’s Thursday night lineup, including the addition of a new hour-long comedy called “Love Bites” at 10 p.m. Billed as a “romantic anthology,” “Love Bites” follows two women (Becki Newton, Jordana Spiro) telling modern stories about love, sex, and relationships. The show will be told in short vignettes, creating a new type of program. Besides the addition of “Love Bites,” the signature sitcom block of the night is changing. “Community” will still air at 8 p.m., while “30 Rock” will move to 8:30 p.m., and “The Office” will air at 9 p.m. and serve as a lead in to the new 9:30 p.m. comedy “Outsourced.” The new comedy is a show about a Midwestern American man being outsourced to India through his company, to teach new employees what it’s like to be American, so they can relate to the American-type products that they will be selling. Critical favorite “Parks & Recreation” has been bumped from the night and now is slated for a midseason airdate.
The Friday night 8 p.m. timeslot will be kicked off by the second season of “Who Do You Think You Are?,” and will change over to the new reality series “School Pride” midseason. “School Pride” is loosely based off of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” although this show remodels deteriorating schools. “Dateline NBC” will air Fridays at 9 p.m., leading into the new drama “Outlaw,” starring Jimmy Smits as a former Supreme Court judge who returns to the private sector.
One thing that is noticeably absent NBC’s schedule is a second night of comedy, which was expected with the high number of comedies ordered for next season.
NBC also has five new shows that they are saving for midseason, including the comedies “The Paul Reiser Show,” “Friends With Benefits,” and “Perfect Couples,” along with two new dramas, “Harry’s Law” starring Kathy Bates and the hour long drama, “The Cape.” Reality entries “The Apprentice,” “Minute to Win It,” “The Marriage Ref,” and the possible new series “America’s Next Great Restaurant” starring celebrity Chef Bobby Flaw will air sometime midseason as well, possibly all on Sundays when “Sunday Night Football” concludes in March 2011.