Here goes nothing as it’s time to jump into the mind of NBC Chief Bob Greenblatt and attempt to predict the future and give my best guess on what the Fall 2013 NBC television schedule is going to look like.
What Will Be Cancelled and Renewed?
NBC ended much of the suspense surrounding which of it’s dramas would be returning for Fall 2013 when it renewed Revolution, Parenthood, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, and Grimm in late April. However the network to date has been mum on its plans for the comedy side of the slate. So let’s start and take a look at the baseline schedule and shows that survived to the end of the 2012-2013 season.
The only remaining question left on the drama side is what will happen with Hannibal. Hannibal started encouragingly but has slipped down to a dangerous 1.0 L+SD rating in adults 18-49. No matter how much it adds in DVR ratings it is hard to overcome that low of a number. On the other hand Hannibal is an international co-production which makes it far cheaper to produce then a normal hour long drama. My prediction is that Hannibal will be cancelled although if for some reason it is renewed it will not find a spot on the Fall 2013 schedule.
Look at reality and unscripted programming I have no doubt that The Celebrity Apprentice will return but will not be seen until the spring. Fashion Star will not live to see a third season while the duo of Dateline and Rock Center will return although not necessarily at the same time.
Finally on the comedy side long running NBC sitcoms The Office and 30 Rock ended their runs this year leaving a very large number of very marginally rated sitcoms who’s fates have yet to be determined. Of all of the potential comedy returners the only show sure to return is Parks and Recreation. So now what else will return? Last fall NBC scheduled five hours worth of comedy although the fifth hour on Friday never materialized meaning eight half hour timeslots were filled with comedies last fall. Given the number of drama renewals and the lack of worthy returning comedy contenders it would not surprise me to see NBC only schedule three hours of comedies in the fall. Assuming half of these spots will be new shows at least two more comedies have to make the cut. My picks for returning comedies are a second chance for Go On and the return of Whitney. Community will also return for a final 13 episode season but will not appear on the fall schedule. Time runs out for The New Normal, Guys with Kids, and Up All Night.
What Will the Fall 2013 Schedule Look Like?
With our renewals settled the starter schedule for NBC has a number of gaps to fill. As you can see most of the returning shows kept their same spots except for the first hour of Thursday. A discussion of why shows moved or stayed put follows in the night by night discussion.
7 PM – Faith Hill may not be returning but Sunday night starts as it has ever since the NFL returned to NBC with Football Night in America so you can say hello to Dan Patrick and the gang.
8 PM – Sunday Night Football helps boost the NBC network ratings average once again.
8 PM- Many 140 character tweets have been expended in the last several days about whether or not NBC should move The Voice from Monday and Tuesday to Tuesday and Wednesday or even Wednesday and Thursday. Aside from the fact that FOX might consider it a shot across their bow, NBC President Bob Greenblatt has been quoted on the record a number of times talking about their plan to build from Sunday Night Football through the rest of the week. Moving The Voice might allow you to promote your new Monday night lineup on football however it requires altering almost your entire schedule to do it. One area that NBC has not been successful with is getting the audience to travel to a new timeslot for shows (see Smash, Go On, Up All Night, and Whitney over the last two seasons). So for now The Voice stays on Monday.
10 PM – Also staying put is Revolution. There is no denying that Revolution has suffered a ratings let down this spring however it is still the top rated drama on NBC. Plus the best way to try and boost the show next fall is to leave it on after The Voice. One of the reasons to move the show is to give the opportunity to follow the ratings juggernaut to another drama.
8 PM – The Voice stays put to kickoff the night.
9 PM – This season NBC tried to launch two new comedies (Go On and The New Normal) behind the reality king. The results were middling to be kind. FOX has also had a hard time launching comedies behind American Idol so this last season the network stopped trying and chose to slot the aging Glee behind the show. For the most part that strategy worked well. With my prediction of one less hour of comedy programming on the Fall 2013 schedule for NBC I will slot new drama The Blacklist behind The Voice. The Blacklist stars James Spader as world’s most wanted criminal, who turns himself into the FBI and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with in exchange for working with a newly minted agent whom he seemingly has no connection.
10 PM – After being under-appreciated for years Parenthood was one of the few shows last season to gain audience over the prior season. Renewed for a full 22 episode season for only the second time the Braverman clan returns to its home at 10 PM. Scheduling consistency allows Parenthood to continue to be a self-starter without much worry for NBC.
8 PM – Whitney returns to Wednesday night to act as a multi-camera companion to Undateable. Undateable, from Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence, is a “bromantic” comedy about two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women. In an interesting wrinkle the pilot features Chris D’Elia of Whitney whose character would need to be recast should Whitney in fact survive to a third season.
9 PM – Law & Order: SVU featured lower ratings this season which finally means an evacuation of Wednesday night of the long running drama series in order to make room for Crisis (aka the Untitled Rand Ravich Project) which stars Dermot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson in a Washington, D.C.-set drama about an idealistic secret service agent who finds himself at the epicenter of an international crisis on his first day on the job.
10 PM – Last season’s bright spot Chicago Fire returns to Wednesday night to ensure that Dick Wolf maintains his foothold on the night.
8 PM – Facing off against the CBS power duo of The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men is not easy for any new show which is why the returning comedy duo of Go On and Parks and Recreation start off the night.
9 PM – The longtime home of The Office welcomes The Michael J. Fox Show and the return of the titular star to his first network home. In an intense bidding war NBC guaranteed a 22 episode order for the show. With that type of commitment the show better be able to launch itself and the show that will follow it – About A Boy. The television adaptation of the book and movie of the same name stars David Walton as a bachelor man-child and his relationship with the young boy who moves in next-door with his kooky single mother. Friday Night Lights and Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims serves as the creator and executive producer.
10 PM- Hoping to strike fire twice with J.J. Abrams in two seasons with Believe. Believe from Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron stars Delroy Lindo and Kyle McLaughlin in a drama about a girl in possession of a great gift/powers – which will come into their own in seven years – and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down.
8 PM – A relocated Law & Order: SVU leads off the evening and hopes to create a two hour crime drama block with…
9 PM – the returning Grimm. Grimm has been a great stable block on the NBC schedule even making a brief appearance on both Monday and Tuesday nights this season to hold down the fort on the NBC schedule.
10 PM – Friday night comes to a close with some combination of Dateline and Rock Center.
With that final piece I predict that the NBC Fall 2013 schedule will look a little something like this:
Midseason will be especially important for NBC this upcoming season with the 2014 Winter Olympics serving as a launching pad for several new series including dramas Night Shift (please be ER! please be ER!), The Sixth Gun (genre shows are the best), previously announced Dracula, and the Chicago Fire Spinoff. On the comedy side we welcome Krysten Ritter in Assistance (hyperactive workaholic juggling her boyfriend, work-husband, and boss), Craig Robinson (please be The Office!), and Happiness (Sean Hayes must figure out how to become a full-time dad to his teenage daughter as well as navigate his temperamental new boss at work).