Network Upfronts: NBC Announces Their 2012 Fall Schedule

During a conference call today, NBC revealed its schedule for the upcoming fall television season.  While the network has shown signs of life this spring thanks to The Voice network exec Bob Greenblatt and company have decided to shake up the schedule.  Looking to get back to its comedy glory days of the late 80s and 90s for the first time since the 1998-99 television season NBC will schedule comedies on four nights a week.  Ten half hour comedies made the schedule for the fall.

On Monday, The Voice returns after two successful springs to the fall schedule hoping to use the strength of the Summer Olympics and America’s Got Talent to turn the singing competition into the reality juggernaut that the network really needs.  The Voice is slated to air two cycles this season potentially with new set of judges in the spring.  In a bit of a surprise given its Greenblatt pedigree, Smash does not appear on the fall schedules (apparently being held for midseason and a straight through run sans repeats).  Rather the JJ Abrahms / Eric Kripke sci-fi thriller Revolution gets to enjoy the powerful Voice lead in.

The Biggest Loser has called Tuesday its home since the fall of 2004 but the aging reality show has found itself on the bench this fall in favor of the first of two new nights of comedy on the Peacock Network.  The Voice results show kicks off the evening providing a jump start Matthew Perry’s Go On and the Ryan Murphy led The New Normal.  With rumors abounding that both of these comedies will get an early start on the season look for America’s Got Talent to provide the early protection for the duo.  Parenthood closes the night as it escapes the cancel bear for another season of the lower rated but consistently performing and critically liked family drama.

The NBC comedy Happy Hour continues its experiment on Wednesday this time replacing the female skewing duo of Are You There Chelsea and Whitney (more on Ms. Cummings in a bit) with the more universally friendly duet of Animal Practice and Guys with Kids from late night host Jimmy Fallon.  Law & Order: SVU is freed from its devastating Rock Center lead in by moving up an hour to 9 pm were it was forced to move due to the ill-advised Jay Leno Show debacle.  Of course the reason for the move is to provide a compatible lead in to new Dick Wolf stablemate Chicago Fire, the second of the two new fall dramas on NBC.

One surprise to most of the Critics That Cover Television is the lack of change in the Thursday night comedy lineup.  Many had expected Go On to land here but instead the final season of 30 Rock, Up All Night, The Office, and Parks and Recreation return.  Except for Parks and Recreation and The Office which have full season 22 episode orders, the two other comedies on Thursday come with short 13 episode leashes.  With a number of other comedies waiting in the wings along with a raft of reality hours still to be scheduled each show will no doubt have to prove itself to earn their back 9 episode orders.  With the 10 pm hour turning into a wasteland for NBC in the post-ER world and much else to promote for next fall Brian Williams and company get to call the night home with the return of Rock Center.  It would not shock me to see one of the reality shows here in the spring.

On Friday the much maligned Whitney returns to open the night followed by the relocated Community which will no doubt have trouble finding its young audience on the night.  Then again Friday is better than cancellation.  Adding a bit of drama to the conversation is that Community creator Dan Harmon is still yet signed for next season.  The reason for shifting this duo to Friday is to provide a better and more compatible lead in to relative success story Grimm.  Hurt by the swap of Chuck to reality snoozer and young audience anathema Who Do You Think You Are? in the spring, Greenblatt hopes to boost the ratings of the supernatural thriller this fall.  Dateline wraps the night up with more stories of real crime.

Sunday night is of course Football Night in America with the NFL flagship game occupying the start of the week all the way through the fall.  Come midseason is the return of the second night of the week for Dateline, a relocated Fashion Star, more Donald Trump with the Celebrity Apprentice, and new drama Do No Harm staring Steven Pasquale.

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