With five returning freshman shows from last season, as well as additional prime time NFL games with Thursday Night Football, NBC has put together a 2016-17 schedule that emphasizes stability in the fall, while saving many of its new shows for midseason.
"We're feeling very good and bullish about what we're doing for the fall," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment, of his lineup, which includes just three new fall series. "We have a very stable schedule."
NBC slipped to No. 2 this season in the 18-49 demo after two years on top, though the network is claiming victory in "the full 52-week September-to-September 2015-16 primetime season" (which, sorry, isn't a thing).
New adventure drama Timeless—about a stolen time machine, and the scientist, soldier and history professor trying to save history—takes over the coveted post-Voice time slot on Monday, which previously launched The Blacklist and Blindspot. "It has real broad appeal, and one of the most high-octane, broad, fun shows we could have following The Voice," said Greenblatt.
On Tuesdays, This Is Us—a drama about characters who intersect in unique ways (several share the same birthday), starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown—will be sandwiched between between returning shows The Voice and Chicago Fire.
Blindspot shifts to Wednesdays at 8 "to jumpstart that night," said Greenblatt, followed by Law & Order: SVU and Chicago P.D.
NBC is bringing comedy back to Thursday night, with midseason hit Superstore at 8, leading into The Good Place, a comedy starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson (starring in an NBC comedy for the first time since Cheers went off the air in 1993). Bell plays a women who is killed in a car accident, and ends up in the afterlife, where she tries to avoids being sent to "the bad place." The Blacklist shifts to 10, making way for Chicago Med at 9. The move "will give it a real strong lead-in, which is has not had this past season," Greenblatt said.
NBC will get an even bigger prime time boost from football this fall, as the network will air five Thursday Night Football games, beginning in mid-November, as part of a new sharing deal with the NFL and CBS.
Because NBC doesn't broadcast those games until late November and December, "it's actually not very disruptive" to the network's fall lineup, as that allows its Thursday shows to air for eight weeks before football begins, said Jeff Bader's NBC Entertainment's president of program planning, strategy and research.
Fridays will remain steady with Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon, Grimm and Dateline.
After Sunday Night Football ends in January, NBC will bring back its midseason hit Little Big Shots, followed by Chicago Justice (the fourth entry in the Chicago franchise, featuring State's Attorney's lawyers in the Windy City) and the Jennifer Lopez drama Shades of Blue.
The fall lineup features "very little upheaval, and for the first time in a long time, we're not running around and throwing shows against the wall, and hoping for the best," said Greenblatt.
That leaves NBC with a deep bench for midseason:
Midseason comedies include Great News (executive produced by Tina Fey, about a cable news network producer whose mom, played by Andrea Martin, becomes her new intern), Marlon (a family comedy starring Marlon Wayans, based on his life), Powerless (DC Comics comedy starring Vanessa Hudgens as an insurance adjuster living in a world of superheroes) and Trial and Error (a mockumentary about a New York lawyer who, for his first case, travels to a small Southern town to defend an eccentric professor, played by John Lithgow, accused of murdering his wife).
Dramas on tap for midseason include Emerald City (a new take on The Wizard of Oz with Vincent D'Onofrio as the Wizard ), Midnight, Texas (based on the trilogy from Charlaine Harris about bizarre supernatural goings-on in a tiny Texas town) and Blacklist spinoff, The Blacklist: Redemption (focused on Tom Keen, played by Ryan Eggold, who works with his mom—Famke Janssen—the leader of a secret organization, to fight crime). Taken—a prequel to the Liam Neeson movie franchise, with Clive Standen as a young Neeson—will take over the 10 p.m. post-Voice Monday timeslot when The Voice returns in the spring.
Reality series set for midseason include The New Celebrity Apprentice (now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger), First Dates (from executive producer Ellen DeGeneres and narrated by Drew Barrymore, about first dates happening the same night at a Chicago restaurant) and The Wall (a game show hosted by Chris Hardwick that involves a 40-foot wall).
NBC will share its schedule with advertisers tomorrow as part of NBCUniversal's first-ever combined upfront, which will combine its broadcast and cable presentations into a single event, held at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Greenblatt insists the entire event will be held in less than two hours: "Yes, I did say two hours, so you can quote me on that," he said.
Still up in the air is the fate of NBC's critically-acclaimed comedy, The Carmichael Show. Greenblatt said NBC is still haggling with the studio over the amount of episodes to order for Season 3. "We're just trying to agree on the number of episodes that works for everybody," said Greenblatt. "Hopefully we will resolve it soon." UPDATE: They did. A few hours after Greenblatt's press call with reporters, NBC announced that it had officially picked up The Carmichael Show, for a 13-episode Season 3.
NBC still hasn't made a decision about whether The Bigger Loser will return next season.
Before the fall season kicks off, the network will also boost its returning sitcom Superstore by airing an original episode during its Summer Olympics coverage in August. New reality series Better Late Than Never—based on a Korean reality show in which four celebs (Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman) travel across Asia—will launch after the Games, prior to the official launch of the fall season.
NBC FALL 2016-17 SCHEDULE (New programs in ALL CAPS)
8-10 p.m. — The Voice
10-11 p.m. — TIMELESS
8-9 p.m. — The Voice
9-10 p.m. — THIS IS US
10-11 p.m. — Chicago Fire
8-9 p.m. — Blindspot (new time slot)
9-10 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
10-11 p.m. — Chicago P.D.
8-9 p.m. — Superstore
8:30-9 p.m. — THE GOOD PLACE
9-10 p.m. — Chicago Med (new time slot)
10-11 p.m. — The Blacklist (new time slot)
8-9 p.m. — Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon
9-10 p.m. — Grimm
10-11 p.m. — Dateline
8-10 p.m. — Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
8-11 p.m. — Saturday Night Live (classic encores)
7-8:20 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20-11 p.m. — Sunday Night Football
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION, CHICAGO JUSTICE, EMERALD CITY, FIRST DATES, GREAT NEWS, Little Big Shots, MARLON, MIDNIGHT, TEXAS, The New Celebrity Apprentice, POWERLESS, Shades of Blue, TAKEN, THE WALL