Last week, I did a series of pre-upfront posts called "Upfront Questions" in which I posed one question for each night of the schedule. My post-upfront coverage is called "Upfront Answers," in which I take a look at how they addressed my questions.
Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | The CW | General
For further reference: NBC True Power Rankings | NBC Upfront Questions
8-10 p.m. - "The Voice"
10-11 p.m. - "REVOLUTION"
My Question: How much The Voice?
It sounds like the answer to this is "a lot," as Bob Greenblatt's comments would suggest they're going with two cycles in 2012-13. How does the double-pump end up working out ratings-wise? We will see, but it's worth being concerned about. It also means that a lot of that second-tier unscripted stuff becomes a lot less necessary; while Off Their Rockers is renewed, it doesn't sound like shows like The Sing-Off, Who's Still Standing? or even Fear Factor (AKA NBC's third-biggest entertainment program last season) are coming back.
8-9 p.m. -"The Voice"
9-9:30 p.m. - "GO ON"
9:30-10 p.m. - "THE NEW NORMAL"
10-11 p.m. - "Parenthood"
My Question: Will NBC build its own House/Castle?
Not really. Instead, they went Smash part two by putting a very different-sounding drama in the plum Monday post-Voice slot, then they gave the Tuesday lead-in to comedies. Leading into comedies seems like a pretty good idea, but I still would've liked to see something a little wider-reaching in the Monday slot. Perhaps they are sure enough in Castle and Hawaii Five-0 staying put on Monday that they felt like going off the beaten path again.
8-8:30 p.m. - "ANIMAL PRACTICE"
8:30-9 p.m. - "GUYS WITH KIDS"
9-10 p.m. - "Law and Order: SVU"
10-11 p.m. - "CHICAGO FIRE"
My Question: What can possibly get NBC back in the Wednesday game?
Apparently the answer is two new comedies, "10:00 show" SVU once again back at 9:00 and fellow Dick Wolf drama Chicago Fire at 10:00. Overall, it is another pretty uninspiring plan for Wednesday, but it again hinges on whether the new shows are up to the challenge. NBC did all right with Up All Night's arrangement last fall, so you can't write off the lead-off shows. Perhaps we'll see them try to sample these new comedies after the tail end of this summer's America's Got Talent once again, and maybe they'll get an even longer run (if they're among the August launches).
8-8:30 p.m. - "30 Rock"
8:30-9 p.m. - "Up All Night"
9-9:30 p.m. - "The Office"
9:30-10 p.m. - "Parks and Recreation"
10-11 p.m. - "Rock Center with Brian Williams"
My Question: How heavily will NBC lean on those fast-fading returnees?
Very, very heavily, as NBC essentially raises the white flag on once-proud Thursday night. This will get pretty ugly. I do rather like the fact that they didn't try to mix any new shows into this mess, though. What I really meant by this question was: would NBC have enough confidence in the returning comedies to just mix in new comedies around them? Clearly not. And that's honestly probably pretty smart. Perhaps NBC's real best play was to just admit that there are going to be big holes regardless and try to consolidate them all on one night. It's the scheduling equivalent of a quarantine zone. Of course, doing this kind of thing means the other nights had really better work.
8-8:30 p.m. - "Whitney"
8:30-9 p.m. - "Community"
9-10 p.m. - "Grimm"
10-11 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
My Question: How much can a network with multiple complete failure weeknights commit to a weekend night?
Well, Grimm stays, alongside what feels like probably the last two comedies renewed. I can't say Whitney and Community feels like a good pairing, but... it's what's left over. I don't see them doing much of anything, and in fact I wouldn't be stunned to see them hold off on premiering those two for awhile to see how things develop. (Whitney feels like the only of the returning comedies that I might feel OK about incorporating with the new shows.)
7-8 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
8-9 p.m. - "Fashion Star"
9-10 p.m. - "The Celebrity Apprentice"
10-11 p.m. - "DO NO HARM"
My Question: Who wins the great Harry's Law debate?
"The demo" wins again, and in fact NBC will totally eschew the whole Sunday 8/7c drama idea and stick with two unscripted hours into newbie Do No Harm. Gonna be interesting to see how Fashion Star compares to the year-ago episodes of Harry's Law next May. This doesn't seem like a very good situation for Do No Harm (I'm guessing Apprentice will be on death's door by next season), but don't rule out DNH heading somewhere else if (when) a big hole opens up elsewhere. The second hour of Apprentice is always available.
The first thing that must be said is that there's really no way NBC can make a "good" schedule. It would be very difficult to create an arrangement of these shows where you couldn't point to several hours and say, "This won't work."
What I like about NBC's schedule is that there are a couple very clear messages: 1) comedy is hot, and it's our best hope to get back in the game; 2) our existing comedies are not going to be helpful in that pursuit. I happen to agree with both of those things, and it's a good thing that they recognized them and committed to them (whereas I'm afraid at least one upcoming network will not). NBC could've very easily hedged things much more, mixing in new comedies with old ones and continuing the culture of comedy low-ratedness. Instead, there was a very clear segregation between old and new. In some cases, that seems rather odd (I figured Whitney would go alongside the only other multicam Guys with Kids), but for the most part it's probably their best shot. If all the new comedies go on to fail, well, then it was probably gonna happen regardless of arrangement.
The thing that most concerns me is the post-Voice choice on Monday. Of course, I haven't seen Revolution, but I still think some sort of procedural would've been a better call. Perhaps Do No Harm will fill in if Revolution struggles.