NBC: Somebody got the message
Last year at this time, everyone could see that NBC was in trouble—everyone except NBC. Instead of trying to stop the hemorrhaging of viewers, they made boneheaded moves like leaving Thursday nights unchanged and airing both “Apprentice” shows at the same time.
But apparently this season, someone got the message as NBC’s schedule is filled with interesting high-concept shows, including one of the fall’s most anticipated dramas.
Here’s the breakdown, with the caveat that things could change along the way…
8 PM—Deal or No Deal
Of course, they would put a show I’m interested in at 9 on Mondays. “Heroes” is about everyday people who discover they have superpowers. The ensemble cast includes Greg Grunberg (Weiss, “Alias”)
8 PM—Friday Night Lights
10 PM—Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Yes, “Friday” is a television show based on the movie and the book that inspired it. Kyle Chandler (last seen getting blown up on “Grey’s Anatomy”) takes over the Billy Bob Thornton role. “Kidnapped” is one of several “24” clones you’ll see this fall. This one follows the kidnapping of a teenager from a wealthy family and stars Dana Delany (“China Beach”) as the teen’s mother.
8 PM—The Biggest Loser
9 PM—20 Good Years
9:30 PM—30 Rock
10 PM—Law and Order
“20” stars John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”) as two mismatched buddies who decide they only have about 20 good years left to live. “30 Rock” stars Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live”) as a head writer on a live sketch show (a stretch for her, I know). Fey is also the creator, writer and an executive producer along with Lorne Michaels (executive producer of “SNL”).
8 PM—My Name is Earl
8:30 PM—The Office
9 PM—Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
10 PM—ER/The Black Donnellys (January)
Without a doubt, “Studio 60” is the most highly anticipated drama of the fall. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at a late-night comedy sketch show (Yes, that’s right. NBC has a comedy and a drama with the same concept.) starring Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”). The show is from the genius mind of Aaron Sorkin (who created “The West Wing”). “ER” will run uninterrupted until December and then will be replaced temporarily by “Donnellys,” which tells the story of four young Irish brothers and their involvement in organized crime in NYC. It’s created by Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, the minds behind “Crash.”
8 PM—Deal or No Deal
9 PM—Las Vegas
10 PM—Law & Order: Criminal Intent
8 PM—Dateline Saturday
9 PM—Drama series encores
7 PM—Football Night in America
8 PM—Sunday Night Football
“Football Night” is network TV’s first hour-long pre-game show. Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth will host with Jerome Bettis, Sterling Sharpe and Peter King.
Sunday (in January)
8 PM—America’s Got Talent
9 PM—The Apprentice
“Talent” is a nationwide talent contest produced by Simon Cowell and hosted by Regis Philbin that will debut this summer. “Raines” stars Jeff Goldblum as a police detective who talks with deceased crime victims.
NBC has also picked up two comedies for midseason: “The Singles Table” which tells the story of a group of single strangers that meet at a wedding reception and “Andy Barker P.I” starring Andy Richter as a CPA who becomes a detective after a case of mistaken identity. “Barker” is executive produced and co-written by Andy’s old partner, Conan O’Brien.
“Scrubs” and “Crossing Jordan” will return “at some point” in the season.
Here’s my take on the schedule…
Best Shot at a Hit: Let’s see. Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Perry. How can “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” possibly lose? Well, the tough timeslot against “CSI” doesn’t help, but I admire NBC for going right at CBS to take back its Thursday supremacy.
Best Shot at a Miss: “20 Good Years” looks good on paper, but I’m leery of comedies with such great talent. They never seem to pan out (“Center of the Universe,” “Out of Practice”). I’m also leery of shows based on movies, so I’m a little unsure about “Friday Night Lights.” And NBC is probably taking a bit of a risk with “Kidnapped.” If it works, it could be the next “24.” If it doesn’t, it’ll be the next “Reunion” and I can’t take another one of those.
Most Questionable Scheduling Move: About the only thing I would question is giving “Deal or No Deal” two airings. I think NBC could have filled the Friday slot with something else and two airings could lead to overkill.
Best Scheduling Move: Leaving “The Apprentice” off the schedule until January. I think we’re all over that “You’re fired” phase.
Biggest Disappointments: Why, oh why can’t NBC show “Scrubs” any love? I can’t help but wonder if they really wanted to cancel the show but they knew if they did ABC would get it, so they’re playing the “later” game. I’m also disappointed that they’re holding “Andy Barker” until midseason. I’ve got a bad feeling they really don’t care about this one either; they just didn’t want FOX to get it. It’s Andy and Conan. How could it not be funny?
Tuesday, it’s ABC’s turn when we learn what scheduling madness they have in store for us…