There's not much to laugh about on NBC's fall schedule.
In its 2015-16 slate, unveiled Sunday ahead of Monday's upfronts, NBC is devoting only a single hour to sitcoms this fall: 8-9 p.m. Fridays, as the network continues to struggle with its comedy brand.
Instead, the network—which should win its second consecutive season in adults 18-49 (though without the Super Bowl, the win would likely go to CBS)—is focusing on dramas, the return of Sunday Night Football and two all-live series to entice viewers.
"We're attacking the new season with the same programming strategy that successfully turned NBC around: a slate of provocative and innovative series and events that cut through the clutter and will continue to build on our momentum," said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. "We have several powerful new dramas and attention-getting new comedies, including the return of Undateable, which will be broadcast live every week next season. Live programming is one more way to make a show undeniable."
NBC is sticking with The Blacklist Thursdays at 9 p.m.—which had struggled opposite Scandal after moving from its cushy post-Voice time slot in February (though it doubles its 18-49 rating in live-plus-7-day viewing)— but the network hopes to strengthen its once-dominant Thursday schedule with Heroes Reborn, its revival of Heroes, which will air at 8 p.m. The Player, a drama starring Wesley Snipes, will try to survive opposite How to Get Away With Murder at 10 p.m. (assuming ABC keeps it there).
The network is giving its coveted Monday post-Voice time slot, which previously helped launch The Blacklist and Revolution, to Blindspot, about a woman with amnesia who works with the FBI to solve crimes based on the tattoos on her body.
On Tuesdays, The Voice leads into medical drama Heartbreaker, about a transplant surgeon played by Melissa George, and then Neil Patrick Harris' variety series Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, which will be broadcast live. Best Time Ever will run through November when Chicago Fire will take over the slot.
Wednesdays remain intact, with The Mysteries of Laura (as of now, it's the only freshman series to make it to a second year; the network won't decide on the fates of freshman shows American Odyssey and AD The Bible Continues until after their seasons have ended), Law & Order: SVU and Chicago P.D.
NBC's only fall comedies will air Fridays: Undateable, its only returning comedy, at 8 (which will be broadcast live all season), followed by People Are Talking at 8:30 (about two BFF couples, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar). Then Grimm returns at 9, followed by Dateline.
On Saturdays, NBC will air Dateline Saturday Night Mystery from 8-10, followed by classic Saturday Night Live encores at 10 (which had been introduced last season as part of the show's 40th anniversary).
Sunday will feature the return of its powerhouse football lineup: Football Night in America at 7, leading into Sunday Night Football at 8:20 (which remains broadcast's No. 1 program in adults 18-49 and total viewers).
"The fall lineup gives you only half the story," said Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertainment. "We truly program on a 52-week basis and are putting virtually the same amount of programming muscle behind our midseason lineup."
Coach, a revival of Craig T. Nelson's hit comedy that aired on ABC from 1989-1997; Chicago Fire/Chicago P.D. spinoff Chcago Med; Shade of Blue, starring Jennifer Lopez as a single mom who goes undercover for the FBI's anti-corruption task force; and Hot & Bothered, starring Eva Longoria, are among the high-profile shows being saved for midseason.
Crowded, in which Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston play empty-nesters whose two daughters move back in; Superstore, a workplace comedy set at a megastore, starring America Ferrara; and drama Game of Silence, about an Atlanta attorney whose childhood friends re-enter his life after 25 years, will also arrive midseason.
There's also Little Big Shots, a new comedy/vareity series from Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey, showcasing talented kids from all over the country, as well as You, Me and the End of the World, a comedy-drama about, yes, the end of the world, with Rob Lowe (who is also starring in new Fox comedy The Grinder), Jenna Fischer and Megan Mullally.
NBC also has a number of event programs on tap for 2015-16, including Coat of Many Colors (based on Dolly Parton's upbringing); The Reaper (based on the memoir from African-American sniper Nicholas Irving about his 100-day Afghanistan deployment); and The Wiz Live! (this December's live musical broadcast).
NBC FALL 2015-16 SCHEDULE (New programs in ALL CAPS)
8-10 p.m. — The Voice
10-11 p.m. — BLINDSPOT
8-9 p.m. — The Voice
9-10 p.m. — HEARTBREAKER
10-11 p.m. — BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (until November)/Chicago Fire (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
8-11 p.m. — Saturday Night Live (classic encores)
7-8:20 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20-11:30 p.m. — Sunday Night Football
COACH, CROWDED, GAME OF SILENCE, HOT & BOTHERED (formerly Telenovela), SHADES OF BLUE, SUPERSTORE, YOU, ME AND THE END OF THE WORLD