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Fall Schedule Predictions: NBC Needs Help, ASAP

Officially Renewed: The Sing-Off, The Voice
Likely Renewed: Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, The Biggest Loser, The Celebrity Apprentice, Chicago Fire, Dateline, Grimm, Law & Order: SVU, Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, Revolution, Rock Center with Brian Williams
TBA: Community, Fashion Star, Go On, Hannibal, The New Normal
Likely Canceled: Deception, Guys with Kids, Ready for Love, 1600 Penn, Smash, Up All Night, Whitney
Already Canceled/Ended: Animal Practice, Do No Harm, The Office, 30 Rock

*NBC is in a bad spot. Outside of The Voice is hasn’t had a decent hit in years. And even with The Voice: they had to run it twice a year to even stay competitive with other networks. I’m not really sure what they can do to turn it around. They’ve had multiple executives and tried different programming strategies. Maybe it won’t ever get back to the ratings juggernaut it once was in the past. But how do they continue to be a viable contender with ABC and CBS? I don’t have the answer but here’s my best guess at what they are going to do this fall to try and save face, a little bit.*

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7PM: Football Night in America
8PM: Sunday Night Football
[Winter: Dateline & The Celebrity Apprentice]

*I think the NFL is keeping NBC in business, honestly. It’s the only program on the schedule that regularly gets over 20 million viewers. But it also leaves NBC with a big hole to fill at midseason time. They can’t really launch a new scripted series there if it won’t be able to continue dominating the timeslot in the fall. They’re better off just sticking with their current lineup of Dateline & another season of the cheap-to-produce The Celebrity Apprentice.*

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8PM: The Voice [Winter: The Biggest Loser]
10PM: Revolution

*This is one night where NBC seemed to get in right last upfront presentation. The Voice is continuing to do well and Revolution has done a great job at maintaining the audience, especially the highly coveted 18-49 demo. They would be stupid to change that. The Biggest Loser did a nice job of keeping the timeslot warm in-between cycles of The Voice. They seemed to have found a winning combination for this night and I doubt it’ll change next season.*

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8PM: The Voice
9PM: The Sixth Gun
10PM: Parenthood

*The Voice hasn’t been able to launch the 9PM hour on Tuesday nights. The comedy block kinda faded without the lead-in, so they should try something different. The Sixth Gun is a western based on a popular graphic novel. Maybe they can capitalize on the lead-in and the huge success of The Walking Dead by giving it a high profile spot on the schedule. Parenthood went from being a certain cancellation to a certain renewal. Smash absolutely bombed in the timeslot and nothing else has done as well as Parenthood has done. The ratings aren’t great, but it continues to win the 18-49 demo in the timeslot. That’s more important than anything. It will probably get another shortened season, but at least it’s another season.*

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8PM: Happiness
8:30PM: The John Mulaney Show
9PM: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10PM: Chicago Fire

*Law & Order: SVU is still a toss-up for renewal. It’s doing well but Mariska Hargitay hasn’t signed a new contract and the show is getting older and less popular. It wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t come back, but I’m not betting on that. Chicago Fire has been a solid performer and has even improved on SVU’s ratings a few times. NBC is already considering a spin-off of the show. That’s staying put for sure. The 8PM hour has been less successful. They’ve tried comedies there for a while and nothing has worked. Are they really going to go that route again? I don’t see why not. They have a lot of comedy pilots and not a whole lot of options. They have quite a few multi-camera comedies too. Happiness starring Sean Hayes and The John Mulaney Show produced by Lorne Michaels seem like the best bets at starting something successful here.*

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8PM: Parks and Recreation
8:30PM: Assistance
9:30PM: Go On
10PM: The Blacklist

*NBC’s Thursday comedy line-up is going through some changes. 30 Rock & The Office have ended successful runs. Community is a shadow of its former self and won’t likely be back. That makes Parks and Recreation likely the only show to return and lead-off the night. Assistance has been getting good buzz so far and sounds like a younger-skewing show that the network will go for this season. NBC has given Michael J. Fox’s new show a blind 24-episode order. They have faith in it and they’ll give it a prime spot on the schedule with a lot of promotion. NBC needs to keep at least one new comedy from last year and Go On seems to be the best bet. They can promote the hour with Michael J. Fox & Matthew Perry returning to Must See Thursdays. 10PM is a disaster. I don’t know what they’re going to do but The Blacklist starring James Spader & Megan Boone seems to be the best reviewed so far.*

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8PM: Dateline
9PM: Grimm
10PM: Rock Center with Brian Williams

*Most networks have written off Friday night and I think NBC is doing the same. Grimm has been doing well for a Friday show and maybe they could use that as a lead-in for a new drama, but I don’t know if NBC wants to use Friday night to launch a new show. They’re better off with repeats or a rotation of Dateline & Rock Center with Brian Williams.*

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Mid-Season: About a Boy, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, Hannibal, The New Normal, The Sing-Off, Untitled Chicago Fire Spin-Off, Untitled Craig Robinson Project, Untitled Rand Ravich Project

*The Sing-Off is the only sure thing for mid-season, but it’ll only be a weeklong Holiday event in December. NBC has a lot of other shows waiting in the wings. Betty White’s Off Their Rockers is a solid performer and I think NBC wants to stay in business with Ryan Murphy by keeping The New Normal alive. They seem serious about the Chicago Fire spin-off. But they might want to wait out another half-season before launching that show. Hannibal has done decently. I can see it getting another spring launch next season. The Untitled Rand Ravich Project is one of the more exciting pilots this season. I loved his previous series, Life, and the cast starring Gillian Anderson & Dermot Mulroney. Deadline has been saying that NBC wants to keep its relationship with Greg Daniels and he has two pilots in the works. Craig Robinson’s sounds like the more friendly show. NBC can have that waiting in case something else fails. And About a Boy could be high profile enough to get a midseason launch.*