NBC will introduce six new series this fall, three sitcoms and three dramas, with changes on four nights of the week (with Tuesday, Saturday and football-populated Sunday remaining intact). The comedies are Up All Night Night, Free Agents, and Whitney; and the dramas The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, and Grimm.
Holiday singing competition The Sing-Off has been upgraded to the fall and positioned in the Monday 8-10 p.m. block, leading into The Playboy Club. NBC will expand to a second night of comedies with half-hours Up All Night and Free Agents in the Wednesday 8-9 p.m. hour, leading into relocated returnee Harry’s Law, headlined by Kathy Bates, and veteran Law & Order: SVU. Thursday’s three-hour sitcom block has been pared down to two hours, with new drama Prime Suspect at 10 p.m. out of Community, relocated Parks and Recreation, The Office and new sitcom Whitney. And Friday will feature relocated Chuck in the 8 p.m. hour (with its final 13 episodes), leading into new drama Grimm and a one-hour edition of Dateline.
Highly anticipated musical drama Smash, headlined by Debra Messing, will debut in the Monday 10 p.m. hour in January leading out of the return of The Voice. Also in midseason will be new drama The Firm, based on the John Grisham novel, Sundays at 10 p.m. out of Dateline and Celebrity Apprentice (from 8-10 p.m.), new drama Awake, new sitcom Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea, and the return of critically acclaimed 30 Rock.
“We have a few priorities, including making sure The Voice is back in as strong as a format as possible, and expanding to another night of comedies,” said Bob Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “If we can do both of those things that would be a real win.”
Also in contention for midseason is a newsmagazine hosted by Brian Williams. Celebrity Apprentice, meanwhile, will live on with another person handling the boardroom should Donald Trump decide to run for President. And there is a contingency plan in place for Sunday Night Football, should it be thwarted by a pending strike.
“We are very close to what is going on and are feeling optimistic football will be there,” said Greenblatt. “If there is a delay we will produce high event special reality programming to fill the evening.”
While you cannot blame NBC, of course, for attempting to combine the new with established series, the inherent problems from the get-go is only 45 percent of the schedule original scripted programming, lack of anchor support on Thursday and Friday, the absence of protected time periods for half of its new product, a 0 for 7 return rate for its fall 2010 entries, and an overly cautious schedule. Unfortunately, no one ever said rebuilding the line-up would be easy for NBC.
Not returning on the network next season will be sitcoms Outsourced and Perfect Couples, dramas The Event, Friday Night Nights, and Law & Order: Los Angeles; and game show Minute to Win It.
Here is NBC’s fall 2011 line-up (with new shows bolded in caps).
8:00 p.m. The Sing-Off (two hours)
10:00 p.m. THE PLAYBOY CLUB
8:00 p.m. The Biggest Loser (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Parenthood
8:00 p.m. UP ALL NIGHT
8:30 p.m. FREE AGENTS
9:00 p.m. Harry’s Law (new day and time)
10:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU
8:00 p.m. Community
8:30 p.m. Parks and Recreation (new time)
9:00 p.m. The Office
9:30 p.m. WHITNEY
10:00 p.m. PRIME SUSPECT
8:00 p.m. Chuck (new day)
9:00 p.m. GRIMM
10:00 p.m. Dateline
8:00 p.m. Encore programming
7:00 p.m. Football Night in America
8:15 p.m. NBC Sunday Night Football
New Program Descriptions
Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea (Midseason)
Inspired by Chelsea Handler's autobiographical book of the same name, a highly opinionated single young woman in her 20s (Laura Prepon) who works as a cocktail waitress is the focus.
The trials and tribulations of two public relations executives (Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn) on the rebound is the focus of this workplace/romantic comedy.
Up All Night
Christina Applegate is back in prime time in this tale of an acerbic working mother, who never thought she would be a parent, her stay-at-home husband and her opinionated parents.
A young couple tries to balance their lives together in this sitcom inspired by the comedy of Whitney Cummings.
Described as an Inception-like thriller, a police detective (Jason Isaacs) wakes up in two different realities after a horrible car crash: one in which his son lives and the other where his wife lives.
Inspired by the classic Grimm's fairy tales, a homicide detective (David Giuntoli) has a mission to protect humans living in a world where the Grimm’s Fairy Tale characters actually exist.
The Playboy Club
Set in a Chicago Playboy Club in 1963, the scripted hour will follow the lives of the club's Bunnies while also exploring the political and moral changes of the era. The ensemble cast includes Amber Heard, David Krumholtz and Eddie Cibrian.
In this remake of the British series, female detective (Maria Bello) battles to prove herself in a tough New York precinct. Aidan Quinn plays the squad commander.
From executive producer Steven Spielberg, a diversified group of characters come together to put on a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Debra Messing, Christian Borle and American Idol’s Katharine McPhee star.