NBC made a few strides this season, but the work is far from done. And that makes trying to put together a schedule for the network next season tough work — even here, when it’s just for fun.
The network has to walk a fine line between continuing to claw back into a competitive position — it has escaped the ratings cellar this season — and trying to launch so many new shows that it spreads itself too thin next fall. Here at Zap2it, we’re thinking the network will tee up maybe a half-dozen or so new series in the fall and sprinkle several others in later in the season.
But honestly? The network’s needs are so deep that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a radically different schedule when NBC announces it 2013-14 plans on Sunday (May 12).
Our proposed schedule (new shows in italics, all times ET/PT) is below, followed by what the network needs for the coming season. (See some thoughts on ABC’s needs here.)
8 p.m. “The Voice”
10 p.m. “Blacklist”
8 p.m. “The Voice”
9 p.m. “Revolution”
10 p.m. “Crisis” (aka Untitled Rand Ravich drama) or “Ironside”
8 p.m. “Parenthood”
9 p.m. “Law & Order: SVU”
10 p.m. “Chicago Fire”
8 p.m. “Parks and Recreation” or “Go On”
8:30 p.m. “Community” or Untitled Sean Hayes comedy or Untitled Craig Robinson comedy
9 p.m. “The Michael J. Fox Show”
9:30 p.m. “About a Boy”
10 p.m. “I Am Victor”
Possible midseason comedies: Whichever of the 8 and 8:30 choices don’t end up in fall, “Undateable,” “The John Mulaney Show”
8 p.m. “Dateline”
9 p.m. “Grimm”
10 p.m. “Hannibal”
7 p.m. “Football Night in America”
8 p.m. “Sunday Night Football”
7 p.m. “Dateline”
8 p.m. “Rock Center”
9 p.m. “Celebrity Apprentice”
What NBC needs next season:
More of everything: The network solidified its Monday and Tuesday nights for most of this season, thanks to “The Voice” and, on Mondays, “Revolution.” We would keep “Revolution” after “The Voice,” but move it to Tuesdays and use the 10 p.m. Monday spot to launch “Blacklist,” reportedly a favorite among the network’s drama pilots. Tuesdays at 10 could also go to a new drama, with hopes that the “Voice”-“Revolution” combo will keep enough people from wandering in the final hour of primetime.
“Grimm” is a solid player on Fridays — and though its initial returns on Tuesday were encouraging as well, it still makes sense to opt for a proven commodity on Friday rather than plugging in something new and hoping for the best. Thursdays are the most obvious problem area, but Michael J. Fox‘s show could at least give an initial boost to NBC’s fortunes there.
A better “Voice” backup: “The Biggest Loser” performed reasonably well subbing for “The Voice” on Mondays in the winter, but Tuesday really suffered without the singing competition. “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” pulled only about a third of the 18-49 rating that “The Voice’s” Tuesday episode did, causing the rest of the night to fade badly as well. We’re not sure what the answer is, frankly. The network is said to be happy with its comedy pilots, so maybe go for a new two-hour block there, possibly with a final season of “Community”? The returns will be considerably less than “The Voice,” but there’s always the possibility of finding a hidden gem.
Patience: The network was pilloried for its first-quarter swoon this season, but holding steady might have been the right course to follow rather than making panicky moves to scrape up an extra couple of tenths of a ratings point. NBC has managed to climb into third place among adults 18-49 this season; the goal for next should be to solidify that position and maybe creep up on second a little bit.
More creative scheduling: The network has shown some willingness to share timeslots and cut down the number of repeats. If the comedy bench is really that deep, that might be a good way to keep Thursday nights fresh throughout the season — provided, of course, that the timeslot-sharing doesn’t seem arbitrary. It would also be a good idea to start looking to the future on Sunday nights, since “Celebrity Apprentice” seems to be on the downslope. Scripted shows haven’t worked very well there in recent years, but it might be a prime spot to try out the suddenly fashionable limited-series format.
What do you think NBC’s schedule for next season will look like?