Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Upfront Answers, NBC

Last week, I asked "Upfront Questions" to preview each network's fall 2013 schedule. With the schedule now official, here are the "Upfront Answers"!

NBC's upfront previews: True Power Rankings | Upfront Questions

Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


Fall 2013 Schedule
8-10 p.m. - "The Voice"
10-11 p.m. - "THE BLACKLIST"

My Question: Is standing pat with Revolution a necessary financial play?

Apparently not, in a huge way. Not only does Revolution not get a direct post-Voice berth, but it's not even in an "indirect" situation (like Tuesday at 10 with The Voice at 8). It'll instead be very much fending for itself in the Wednesday 8/7c hour. While it's not a totally unreasonable piece of counter-programming (as there likely won't be any dramas in the slot), it feels increasingly dicey as the show's ratings have collapsed this spring. That kind of scheduling is definitely something I'd have considered reasonable for Revolution in the fall. Now, it's hard to rule out another "Day One Disaster" like Smash and Happy Endings.

NBC instead throws the show that's been called "white-hot" a thousand times, The Blacklist, into the network's best timeslot. Considering all the raves, that can't be considered a huge shock.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8-9 p.m. - "The Biggest Loser" (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. - "The Voice" (New time)
10-11 p.m. - "Chicago Fire" (New Day and Time)

My Question: Will a string of post-Voice mediocrity change the direction of the lead-outs?

Yes, in a pretty big way. Not only will they try a procedural, which is good, but they'll actually try a returning one, as Chicago Fire gets a huge upgrade. I figured this show had an acceptable enough audience that NBC wouldn't "mess" with it, but apparently they believe the potential is there for much more. So Chicago Fire, like Suburgatory and Revenge and Person of Interest from last year, is a sophomore show that gets something of a "love letter" from its network. We'll see if this one works out better.

This night also answered the dreaded Biggest Loser-around-the-Olympics question. It gets just one hour, and it should help NBC have a very stable Tuesday from top-to-bottom.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8-9 p.m. - "Revolution" (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. - "Law & Order: SVU"
10-11 p.m. - "IRONSIDE"

My Question: Will NBC stand behind its rare glimmer of Wednesday hope?

It seems Chicago Fire's success on Wednesday convinced NBC that SVU is capable of "launching" shows again. I tend to think they just got lucky with Chicago Fire, but we'll see. Will Revolution even make any improvement on the failed comedy blocks from recent years? Seems iffy. Overall, NBC had an opportunity to lock down the always problematic Wednesday to some degree... and they didn't take it.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8-8:30 p.m. - "Parks and Recreation" (New time)
8:30-9 p.m. - "WELCOME TO THE FAMILY"
9-9:30 p.m. - "SEAN SAVES THE WORLD"
9:30-10 p.m. - "THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW"
10-11 p.m. - "Parenthood" (New Day and Time)

My Question: What form does a revamped NBC Thursday take?

They did what seemed most likely even before the rash of comedy cancellations: a lot of new comedies. They actually have an OK-rated returnee, unlike ABC circa 2009, so Parks and Recreation gets thrown into the "Hank" lead-off spot. Though it shouldn't be too disastrous at 8:00, there will still be a ton of pressure to self-start out of the new shows. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole schedule: Michael J. Fox at the bottom of an hour? Who in the world would've thunk that? They must really like the Sean Hayes show.

They round out the night with a known property, which I was always a fan of. I didn't think it'd be Parenthood, but it should be one of the better solutions for the always difficult hour.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8-9 p.m. - "Dateline"
9-10 p.m. - "Grimm"
10-11 p.m. - "DRACULA" ("CROSSBONES" at midseason)

My Question: Will NBC make a more definitive statement about its Friday scripted priorities?

Yes! With Rock Center recently axed, NBC is going a little more all-out on Friday. Dracula and Crossbones are both lower-cost options by scripted standards... but that's good for Friday! Unlike some Friday skeds in years past, this one seems very likely to stick into the fall.


Fall 2013 Schedule
7:00-8:15 p.m. - "Football Night in America"
8:15-11:30 p.m. - "Sunday Night Football"

Midseason 2014 Schedule
7-8 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
9-10 p.m. - "BELIEVE"
10-11 p.m. - "CRISIS"

My Question: Is Celebrity Apprentice no longer big enough to be the midseason Sunday solution?

It's not the solution. In fact, it is absolutely nowhere to be seen, and its renewal is still a TBD situation. This particular midseason sked should certainly be written in pencil.


For the most part, NBC got the broad strokes right here: procedural after The Voice, lots of new comedies surrounded by known properties on Thursday, and a more cohesive plan for Friday which should use Grimm a little better. I have no problems with any of those larger themes, and there weren't particularly good alternatives.

But there are definitely some potential nitpicks within those themes; for example, I could've seen them flipping Ironside and Chicago Fire to try to avert another Wednesday meltdown. The multi-camera Sean Hayes show in the middle of three single-cams has not been a winning proposition historically. The whole Revolution situation.

Overall, a decent job given what they have.


Spot said...

I heard an interesting theory about MJF at 9:30.

Maybe, CBS will move TBBT to 9:00, making it hard for NBC to launch a new show then.

Spot said...

Ordering a 22-pack of Revolution only to dump it in such a precarious situation is financially idiotic on NBC's part. I think it speaks to the creative letdown the show has become, though.

Spot said...


- Chicago Fire does not need the voice lead-in, it was fine with SVU’s!
Why wouldn’t they give it to ironside?! Such a random move!
- Revolution will not be able to held its own Wednesdays at 8 most
likely. BTW, I still like the move a bit just because so many people
told me that Revolution was too “gore” for it to be an 8pm show even
though I argued that idea was non sense. I did want, as you, this move back in the fall, but now it seems crazy.
- Not the best usage for the biggest looser. Why not put a new drama
there and then use the biggest looser on sundays for the two hours it is
worth?! Or use the biggest looser to prop up something (as revolution
for instance)? The Voice doesn’t need prop up!! This is my biggest issue with the schedule. A network with such little depth should not be throwing good lead ins to waste just because... If they really wanted to have these 6 six shows on Tuesday/Wednesday, a better combination would be:

The Voice

The Biggest Looser
Chicago Fire


- Only 4 hours of comedies (although I am not sure they are properly mixed up). I will laugh however if TBBT ends up being moved to 9pm and they have to change this all in a very obvious way
- Parenthood to Thursdays at 10pm, finally
- I like the Dracula/Crossbones thing with Grimm on Fridays but I would
advance everything up an hour and have Dateline at 10 instead.

They will win monday and tuesday but they will have terrible problems on wednesdays and most likely thursdays. They could do well on fridays actually

Spot said...

I happen to think this is an astoundingly bad, "Univision might beat this" schedule. Throwing Parenthood up against Scandal is basically trying to kill it (granted, given its famously high cost, this is semi-justifiable). A Thursday block that starts with Parks and ends with MJF, mixing singlecam and multicam, doesn't even make sense as a bet on TBBT shifting. Hardly any show hasn't moved, so the promotional effort is spread far too thinly. And one of their splashiest dramas is being held for a tentative slot *midseason against TWD*.

Chicago Fire moving and the top newbie airing Monday 10 is about all I like about this schedule. The back end of the week is a disaster waiting to happen.

That Sunday 10pm midseason show looks awfully prescient for what NBC will be facing by then. Crisis could join Do No Harm and Zero Hour in the pantheon of headline-baiting titles for doomed midseason dramas.

Spot said...

Call me naive, but I think this schedule looks pretty decent. I'm so glad that Revolution didn't get to coast behind The Voice for another season; I probably would have only ordered thirteen episodes, but even if it bombs on Wednesday, NBC can send it off to Fridays (or Saturdays, if necessary) and prep the slot for a post-Olympics launch.

Smart move for Parenthood. Now NBC doesn't have to try anymore futile new-show launches there, and it sort of brings back the "prestige" quality that the slot had for so long. Plus, I always hated that NBC kept putting dark, heavy dramas after the comedies. Parenthood is much more compatible.

Spot said...

I thought about something similar. It looks logical CBS to go TBBT / Mom / 2 1/2 Men / new comedy. To nurse Mom with best possible lead-in. If it still bombs, they can always return 2 1/2 Men back to 8:30 later in the season.

If CBS goes so, Michel J. Fox at 9:30 would be the only way for him to avoid Chuck Lorre.

Spot said...

I have the same attitude toward this Sunday schedule that I did toward last year's: if the schedule actually ends up looking like that when midseason rolls around, I'll eat my hat. And yes, the bar is VERY low for improvement at 8pm. I still don't think Revolution is a guaranteed loser in that slot (merely a somewhat likely one).

Spot said...

Couldn't agree more. The Rock Center scheduling last year was an embarassment, and throwing new show after new show in that timeslot was just money down the drain. As for going against Scandal, the hard fact is that they had to schedule something in that slot. Better to go with a known quantity that has a compatible lead-in and is far different in tone than the current timeslot leader.

With a 22-episode order (finally!), that's one slot that NBC almost certainly won't have to worry about for the season.

Spot said...

Yep, that summarizes it quite well for Revolution!

Spot said...

I think there is a chance, albeit a small one, that TBBT goes to 9pm and Two and a Half Men opens the night. I doubt they would risk that, but it is possible.

Spot said...

NBC never learns, no matter who they put in charge.

Spot said...

I agree there's a chance. I doubt it happens, cause "Men" are not enough strong to be a "real anchor" anymore. At 8PM I can see "Men" producing Mike&Molly numbers ... only with twice as much production cost = death. While at 9PM, provided Mom does well, it still could produce acceptable numbers of low/ middle 3s.

Spot said...

True, while minimizing the risk that moving TBBT entails. As I've said, I think it is a very slim possibility. Personally, I would do: HIMYM/Friends with Better Lives/2 Broke Girls/ Mom on Mondays and TBBT/The Millers/Two and a Half Men/Mike and Molly. They need new blood on monday more than they need on thursday, hence me moving mike and molly to thursday and using the stronger mom on mondays. I would launch the single cams separately, elsewhere

Spot said...

In general, the broad strokes of this schedule aren't bad. I think Parenthood is probably the best option to go to Thursdays at 10 as new show after new show after news show haven't worked.

Best Move: Actually trying to pair Grimm with another show. Dracula and Crossbones could be good pairings, and should get an easier time grabbing the genre audience.

Worst Move: It's not bad per se, but pulling The Biggest Loser into the Fall with The Voice feels like it's going to leave Sunday very vulnerable in the Spring (why NBC announces a midseason schedule for Sundays is beyond me). The season premiere popped here in January for TBL, and it would have been a stronger 9:00-11:00 option than Celebrity Apprentice.

Other notes: I'm a little surprised that, with Chicago Fire getting a post-Voice slot, Chicago PD didn't slide into the post-SVU slot to keep the mojo going. Should Ironside not work out, I'm betting NBC will go that route. Speaking of Wednesdays, if NBC was going to move Revolution to a non-Voice slot, this is probably the best spot it could have landed in. Odd that, if CBS doesn't move Survivor, it'll go against the most thematically-similar show on broadcast TV. I also think it's odd that Michael J Fox is going at the bottom of the hour, but when sitcom icons get the :30 slot to start, it seems to work better for them more often (Cougar Town, The Middle) than the :00 slot (Hank, Go On)...unless you are Matthew Perry (Mr. Sunshine).

Spot said...

I don't think they'll put Mike&Molly on the Fall schedule. With so many new comedies, some are bound to bomb. Hence, reliable bench player is needed.

I suppose Mom gets TBBT lead-in, cause Chuck Lorre surely asked for it. While I doubt he can actually demand it, it certainly carries a lot of weight.

Friends with Better Lives and HIMYM are natural fit, so there shouldn't be any doubts abut that block happening.

Spot said...

Here are my thoughts:

Monday: Brilliant. Blacklist was easily their most buzzed about show, and it defintely should get the coveted Voice lead-in. It has an event feel, even though it looks to be structured like a procedural. I imagine they will deviate from that often, like Person of Interest. It is the show I've been looking forward to for the past couple months, and I want it on my telly NOW! :)

Tuesday: Like this one quite a bit, as well, primarily because Revolution isn't in it. I have never really liked two-hour Biggest Loser, as it's always felt padded. Voice in the anchor slot means that ABC slots S.H.I.E.L.D. there at their own peril. Chicago Fire getting the second-best slot on NBC is a huge endorsement for the show. I think it deserves it, following it growing out of SVU most episodes this winter and spring.

Wednesday: I have no idea what to think about this one. SVU is aging so much that I don't think it can serve as a lead-in anymore. I do enjoy the idea of Revolution having to self-start to prove that it should get two more seasons. I still think it would be better off as a mid-season to May sweeps show. And why Ironside?

Thursday: This is an absolute shambles. They are throwing Sean Saves the World to the dogs for no reason. I figured that NBC was getting out of the multi-camera comedy business for good when they got rid of both Whitney and Guys with Kids, so I don't really understand this pick-up. Now they have a work comedy followed by three family comedies, and a multi-cam in the middle of three single-cams. Madness. And then to cap it off, Parenthood will get slaughtered by Scandal. Just utterly incomprehensible.

Friday: Finally! Grimm has a couple of decent partners to dance with. To be honest, I was kind of hoping that NBC had soured on Revolution and would stick it on Friday.

Sunday: I won't even bother reacting. This won't happen. It was supposed to be Dateline/Fashion/Apprentice/DNH last year.

Spot said...

new show after new showafter news show haven't worked

Well done.

Spot said...

Given NBC's position last season, I think scheduling Rock Center was the least embarrassing option they had. Once they attempted to actually try on the night with Do No Harm in January, I think it was worse even compared against Go On, The New Normal, and (barely) Smash.

Spot said...

Here's my thought on NBC Wednesdays: it's not about SVU "launching" a new drama at 10:00. It's about recognizing that Modern Family, Criminal Minds, and the second (stronger) hour of X-Factor/Idol are too much to ask for a new show to go against at 9:00. SVU isn't a low-cost option by any means, but I would rather go with the known than the unknown in this instance since there are higher-profile unknowns on Mondays and Thursdays.

Spot said...

So what would you hold for midseason? Mike and Molly and The Millers or Mike and Molly and one of the single cams? I still don't like the idea of mixing up single cams and multi cams. Th thing with them needing a bench player is that TBBT repeats will do better than Mike and Molly originals at this point, so they already have one. And if they do hold Mike and Molly and then plug it in on a hole, it means another new comedy will be left pairless, so where would they air it? Unless it got the friend me treatment, but that is doubtful this year, considering the pedigree of the projects

Spot said...

If you're basketball coach having at disposal 3 guards: a point guard, a shooting guard and a combo-guard, all 3 of a similar skills and worth a starter spot - then you'll prefer to have a combo guard coming off the bench. Then You'll be best prepared for all foul trouble scenarios and other unpredictable events.
I think CBS is going to think along that line and put 2 new comedies on Monday Fall schedule. As with some 2/3 of new broadcast comedies not making it to the 2nd season, most likely outcome is one of two to work and other one to fail, followed by 2 failures, and least likely is 2 hits (or at least OKish ratings). Then Mike&Molly as well known quantity can risk-freely replace "foul troubled" new comedy. Basically, such plan avoids risking replacing flop with even bigger flop new comedy. After 2 or 3 episodes new comedies will be pretty much known quantity itself - which wouldn't be the case if they would spackle one of it.
As of using TBBT repeats at Mondays, they did it out of necessity, CBS had not enough bench players last season. Surely they prefer to use first of two allowed repeats on Thursdays and the other one during summer.

single / multi
FX / HBO / Showtime comedies = mainly edgy and innovative single-cams, witty and funny stuff
broadcast comedies = mainly bland sitcoms, derivative crap that recycles same stuff again and again
That is the reason broadcast comedies are epidemically bombing. Not some curses, including scheduling variety of curses, like pairing single and multiple cams in an hour.

Spot said...

Hated at first, but I'm beginning to like it more and more as time goes by. They'll own Sundays, Mondays and Tuesday and maybe Fridays.

The Blacklist was basically a no-brainer after all the buzzing, and Chicago Fire might grow, given its positive buzz from this season, a good lead-in and its procedural nature. TBL could have been spared for the Fall and used on Sundays come midseason (instead of aging Celebrity Apprentice, which could just be canceled already), I guess, but it will get solid numbers.

Wednesday and Thursday are their weak days again, but they couldn't do much, given the lack of good lead-ins.

Hoping for the best for Revolution, as it has (or had?) good DVR numbers, SVU is fading, but is still reliable, especially against such juggernauts, and Ironside may have a chance a la Chicago Fire.

The Thursday schedulling is somewhat smart if CBS expands to two hours (and they most probably will; TBBT/Mom/2.5/Crazy Ones, I'm thinking), but I don't think it'll work for long. Parenthood at 10 is good. It'll probably pull solid mid 1's and improve the timeslot over the horrid Rock Center numbers.

Overall, it's a decent schedule. Hopefully they can find something that sticks.

Spot said...

Time has softened me on this schedule a bit too.

I still don't understand the Thursday lineup, but I'm wondering if they've called it like this on the expectation of a TBBT move to 9 - putting their off brand singlecam against it, and giving MJF a fair shake regardless of CBS skedding. Parenthood is a good fit and lighter than Scandal, though frankly I was a fan of "just give up and put Rock Center there".

Mainly I'm thinking "too many timeslot moves". But, of course, many of them were necessary, and procedural Voice leadouts is a big positive move.

It's just that they should have cancelled Revolution to do that! :)

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