NBC Unveils Post-‘Friends’ Schedule

NEW YORK With an emphasis on stability and a focus on a 52-week schedule, NBC will tackle life after Friends and Frasier with just five initial new series: dramas LAX, Hawaii and Medical Investigation, and sitcoms Father of the Pride and highly anticipated Friends’ spinoff Joey, which some observers are already referring to as the next AfterMASH.

NBC, which formally announced its new schedule today, will make changes on five nights of the week (Saturday and Sunday will remain unchanged), adding four hours of new programming and breaking up the perennial Tuesday 8-10 p.m. sitcom block for the first time in 11 years.

The new lineup will begin rolling out in late August following the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Although the five new series represent the fewest number of new shows NBC has introduced in five years, a second reality hour, The Contender, will launch in the Tuesday 8 p.m. hour after Average Joe wraps up, while eight-episode drama Revelations will premiere in the Wednesday 9 p.m. hour occupied by The West Wing at some point in the season.

Also on tap for midseason are comedies Crazy for You, The Men’s Room and The Office and dramas Law & Order: Trial by Jury and Medium.

In addition to Friends and Frasier, missing from NBC’s fall 2004 lineup are Whoopi, Happy Family, Good Morning, Miami, Miss Match and Ed, which concluded its three-and-a-half-season run last February.

Also notably missing are comedies, with just four in NBC’s lineup.