Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thoughts on NBC Fall 2010 Sked


Been revealed by THR, you probably know that already, so here's what I think.

MONDAYS:

8 P.M. CHUCK
9 P.M. THE EVENT (new)
10 P.M CHASE (new)

I think this night is pretty well put-together. Chuck is a place-holder in the very difficult 8pm hour, but that's fine; they have 6.5 other new hours to worry about, and putting a newbie here could, as pathetic as it sounds, do even worse. The Event is going to have to self-start. Everyone seems to think it is doomed with a Chuck lead-in, and if that's the case, well, then it was doomed anyway. Because what kind of lead-in is this network really going to give it? This is a show where they're looking to bring in a new audience, not a show where they're looking for it to scoop up a good percentage of its lead-in. Chuck will at least have an opportunity to funnel in a larger-than-usual male audience, but NBC is just not strong enough in the scripted arena to give The Event much support.

Chase is a show that could get a little help from a successful The Event but could also have a lot of its own audience too. That's a good thing. One thing I would like to do some posts on (may be a summer project) is the idea of "flow" across a three-hour broadcast primetime. But suffice to say I think most of the historically strong top-to-bottom nights don't have what intuitively looks like a "flow." They go after more than one audience on the same night. Chase provides that opportunity.

TUESDAYS:

8-10 P.M. BIGGEST LOSER
10 P.M. PARENTHOOD

Parenthood did well enough to get a season 2, not well enough to look like an anchor on another night... yet. So the net stands pat here. That's fine.

WEDNESDAYS:

8 P.M. UNDERCOVERS
9 P.M. LAW & ORDER: SVU
10 P.M. LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES (new)


Now, let me get this out of the way first: I don't think it's a good idea to greenlight another Law & Order spinoff anymore. The brand has been reduced to one decent but usually sub-3.0 demo performer, a sub-2.0 broadcast flop that's just gotten canceled, and a middling cable show. Not the kind of brand that looks like it's worth replicating. But that said, pairing it with SVU is about the only way there's even a remote chance of it working. Put on its own, I think what you'd have to expect is about Law & Order: Original ratings from 2009-10: mid-1's in the demo. They don't want mid-1's. Does the scheduling maximize SVU's ratings? No, not even close. But at this point, the network isn't working for SVU. SVU is working for the network, and the network wants it as a lead-in. Should LOLA struggle, something that I think is pretty likely even in this situation, SVU can always slide back to 10pm.

Undercovers, one of the higher-priority newbies, will have a chance to capitalize on a very weak hour, the same strategy NBC hoped for at the upfront a year ago with Parenthood. Last year, the strategy fizzled before it even got off the ground due to Maura Tierney health issues, and the dud Mercy ended up in the hour for most of the season. This year, we'll see.

THURSDAYS:

8 P.M. COMMUNITY
8:30 P.M. 30 ROCK
9 P.M. THE OFFICE
9:30 P.M. OUTSOURCED (new)
10 P.M. LOVE BITES (new)


With the declines from Grey's Anatomy and CSI, this timeslot does not look as daunting as in past years, so Outsourced will have as good a chance here as it would anywhere. I don't think Love Bites has a great chance of success here, paired with a generally slightly male-leaning comedy block, but again, there's really nowhere else that it'd have much of a better shot. Post-Biggest Loser is certainly an idea, but that's used for something else right now.

FRIDAYS

8 P.M. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE / SCHOOL PRIDE
9 P.M DATELINE
10 P.M. OUTLAW (new)


I feel like I've said this already for LOLA and Love Bites, but my problem with Outlaw is not so much the scheduling but the fact that it's greenlit at all. I just don't get why there seemed to be so very many legal pilots this year when the genre has not been a strong one in recent years. When the very mediocre-rated The Good Wife is considered some kind of big success in this field, you know the genre skews too old to be much of a game-changer. If they have to greenlight it and it has to be on the schedule, it may as well be on Friday, I say. Dateline will be an OK lead-in by Friday standards. (In fact, I wished NBC had swapped L&O to 9pm with a Dateline lead-in back when Leno was still around.) Yes, Outlaw is somewhere between "pretty likely" and "extremely likely" to flop, but better a Friday flop than a flop elsewhere. A second hour of Dateline at 10pm is an obvious replacement, so there's that.

OVERALL

I feel about the same way about this NBC schedule as I did about last fall's, which is that the net did a pretty good job from a sheer scheduling standpoint, given what they have. Of course, they stunk up the joint last year because "what they have" turned out to be a couple major bombs in Trauma and Mercy, but I still think those were given reasonable chances to succeed. Most of the priority stuff for NBC (which I see as Undercovers, Outsourced, The Event) will also have a reasonable chance to succeed, while some returning stuff is certainly put in less-than-optimal situations (Chuck, Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock). But that's how it should be. If they need new blood, which everyone seems to agree on, they have to give the new blood a chance. Yes, it could all fail, but I don't think it will really be the fault of the scheduling. My only major problems have to do with the very existence of some of these shows.


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