There’s not much funny about NBC’s new fall schedule.
After struggling to launch new comedy hits for years, the broadcaster will relegate sitcoms to only one hour per week next season—and that hour is on Fridays, an evening that’s traditionally the lowest-rated weekday for networks. One comedy is the returning series Undateable (which will have all-live episodes for its third season), and the second is new couples sitcom People Are Talking, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar (see NBC’s fall schedule below; check out the new trailers here). In fact, according to TV historian Tim Brooks, this is the first time since 1978 that NBC has only programmed one hour of comedy in the fall.
The marginalization of half-hour programming by the network that once pioneered Must See TV marks a dramatic departure that also sees NBC doubling down on new and returning dramas. The move also reflects how other broadcasters have had difficultly launching new sitcoms this season as well, a fact that probably makes it tougher for NBC executives to envision their own success with the format.
Some other big headlines from NBC’s upfront release: New thriller Blindspot, about a woman (Jaimie Alexander) who wakes in Times Square covered with mysterious tattoos, will get the coveted post-Voice slot on Mondays. The revival of Heroes (titled Heroes Reborn), which includes the return of fan favorites Jack Coleman (HRG) and Masi Oka (Hiro), will debut on Thursdays to help bolster The Blacklist—which is staying in a tough slot despite losing ground on the evening this year.
The Blacklist will lead into a promising new thriller at 10 p.m. on Thursdays titled The Player, which stars Philip Winchester (Strike Back) and Wesley Snipes (Blade), and follows a former sniper who is drawn into a high-stakes game where wealthy individuals bet on his ability to stop major crimes.
Also new for fall is an alternative series, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, where the five-time Emmy winner will attempt a new breed of variety show based on the UK’s Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.). NBC says the series will have “stunts, skits, pranks, audience interaction, musical numbers, giveaways and unlimited surprises.” Plus there’s Heartbreaker (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.), a new drama starring Melissa George as a heart transplant surgeon. Also, The Mysteries of Laura—which squeaked into a second-season renewal at the last minute this weekend—will return in the fall in its usual Wednesday slot. NBC will also have its latest musical, The Wiz Live! which will air Dec. 3.
Several titles not listed below will debut in midseason, such as the of sitcom Coach starring Craig T. Nelson, Chicago Fire spinoff Chicago Med, the Jennifer Lopez cop drama Shades of Blue, the Eva Longoria telenovela spoof Hot & Bothered, and more. Two of NBC’s recent midseason debuts remain in limbo: Verdicts on American Odyssey and A.D. The Bible Continues will be made at a later date.
The announcement comes as broadcasters make a flurry of decisions about the fates of potential new and returning shows and announce their fall schedules at their upfront presentations to advertisers in New York this week. For a complete list of which shows were canceled and which were renewed, see our Broadcast Ax rundown.
8-10 P.M. — “The Voice”
10-11 P.M. — “BLINDSPOT”
8-9 P.M. — “The Voice”
9-10. PM. — “HEARTBREAKER”
10-11 P.M. — “BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS” (through November)
10-11 P.M. — “Chicago Fire” (premieres in November)
8-9 P.M. — “The Mysteries of Laura”
9-10 P.M. — “Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 P.M. — “Chicago P.D.”
8-9 P.M. — “HEROES REBORN”
9-10 P.M. — “The Blacklist”
10-11 P.M. — “THE PLAYER”
8-8:30 P.M. — “Undateable”
8:30-9 P.M. — “PEOPLE ARE TALKING”
9-10 P.M. — “Grimm”
10-11 P.M. — “Dateline”
8-10 P.M. — “Dateline Saturday Night Mystery”
10-11 P.M. — “Saturday Night Live” (Classic encores)
7-8:20 P.M. — “Football Night in America”
8:20-11 P.M. — “Sunday Night Football”