News from the TV upfronts: Get details on the new series the Peacock will roll out this year, plus the new time slots for some returning shows

By Lynette Rice
May 15, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Scott Garfield/NBC

With new series that range in content from a behind-the-scenes look at a sketch-comedy show to a dark and convoluted tale about X-Men-like freaks who walk the earth, NBC announced it will debut four new dramas and two new comedies on an Apprentice-free schedule this fall (The Donald’s been relegated to midseason).

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a new drama from The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, has earned the plum (and highly competitive) Thursday-at-9 slot. To make room for the series (starring Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, and Amanda Peet as staffers on an SNL-style show) on its Must-See lineup, the Peacock has moved the critically acclaimed My Name Is Earl and The Office up an hour.

Friday Night Lights, a small-screen version of the Peter Berg flick, starring Kyle Chandler in the Billy Bob Thornton role, will kick off the net’s Tuesday-night lineup, followed by the serialized drama Kidnapped, featuring Delroy Lindo as an FBI agent in a role that’s almost identical to the one he played in the 1996 Mel Gibson flick Ransom (which is also about a kidnapping). Jeremy Sisto plays the hero authority figure who negotiates the return of Dana Delany’s son.

Heroes, a high-concept drama about otherworldly humans, airs after Deal or No Deal on Mondays (and already looks to be a prime candidate for early cancellation). And talk about an odd coupling: NBC stacked its two promising new comedies — 20 Good Years, starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor as a couple of 60-somethings, and 30 Rock, with Tina Fey as a variety-show comedy writer — behind The Biggest Loser on Wednesdays. It’s highly likely that NBC will rethink this night before September (and after it sees what the competition decides to do).

A dark new drama about bad-boy brothers in Brooklyn, The Black Donnellys, will take over the ER time slot in January.

After football ends in January, NBC will program Sundays with an American Idol rip-off called America’s Got Talent (hosted by Regis Philbin), followed by yet another edition of The Apprentice and a new drama starring Jeff Goldblum called Raines (think Ghost Whisperer with a badge and no boobs). Other midseason contenders should a time slot suddenly become available (like, one left by Heroes): the new comedy The Singles Table, about a group of singles who meet after a wedding, and Andy Barker, P.I., starring Andy Richter as an unlikely gumshoe. Scrubs and Crossing Jordan will show up sometime over the winter.

NBC’s fall schedule at a glance:

Sundays

8-11 p.m.
New series Sunday Night Football: Hosted by Al Michaels and John Madden

Post-football season:
8-9 p.m.
America’s Got Talent

9-10 p.m.
The Apprentice

10-11 p.m.
New series Raines

Mondays

8-9 p.m.
Deal or No Deal

9-10 p.m.
New series Heroes

10-11 p.m.
Medium

Tuesdays

8-9 p.m.
New series Friday Night Lights

9-10 p.m.
New series Kidnapped

10-11 p.m.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Wednesdays

8-9 p.m.
The Biggest Loser

9-9:30 p.m.
New series 20 Good Years

9:30-10 p.m.
New series 30 Rock

10-11 p.m.
Law & Order

Thursdays

8-8:30 p.m.
New time slot My Name Is Earl

8:30-9 p.m.
New time slot The Office

9-10 p.m.
New series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

10-11 p.m.
ER
New series The Black Donnellys (Debuts in January; ER will return to finish out the season)

Fridays

8-9 p.m.
Deal or No Deal

9-10 p.m.
Las Vegas

10-11 p.m.
New time slot Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Saturdays

8-9 p.m.
Dateline Saturday

9-11 p.m.
Drama series reruns

Also returning later in the season Scrubs, Crossing Jordan

As-yet-unscheduled midseason shows Andy Barker, P.I.; The Singles Table

(To read Scott Brown’s thoughts on NBC’s new schedule, click here.)

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