9:30am PT by Michael O'Connell
NBC's Fall Schedule: Comedy Returns to Thursday, 'Timeless' Earns Choice Monday Slot
NBC is not playing it safe with its coveted post-Voice drama slot. The network announced its 2016-17 schedule on Sunday morning, ahead of Monday's Radio City Music Hall presentation to ad buyers, and among the many changes is a quick shift for this past season's lone broadcast breakout.
Blindspot will now open Wednesday in the troubled 8 p.m. time slot most recently home to now-deceased The Mysteries of Laura and Heartbeat. In its place, Monday's 10 p.m. spot will go to favored freshman drama Timeless. It gets the network's biggest lead-in from The Voice. The slot previously launched The Blacklist, the drama that cemented NBC's turnaround. It's an aggressive move on the network's part, having let The Blacklist simmer in the time slot for a good season and a half before it shifted to Thursday night.
Speaking of Thursday, Blacklist is moving to 10 p.m. after a year of steady (if notably softer) same-day ratings at 9 p.m. The last hour of Thursday primetime was a powerhouse for NBC for years, capping off its "Must-See" block of comedies with E.R. But the hour has been poison for some time, home to a string of non-starter dramas. However humbled Blacklist might be in the hour, it is all but assured to mark an improvement. The shift allows room for NBC's favorite producer, Dick Wolf, to expand his Chicago series to a third night. 2015 entry Chicago Med moves into the slot after a small two-comedy block. Yes, the net is putting comedy back on Thursday. Though it flirted with it this season with acquisition You, Me and The Apocalypse, the additions of returning sitcom Superstore and Mike Schur (Parks & Recreation) entry The Good Place mark a much more concerted effort for comedy success. (Last fall, it plugged in comedies on Friday exclusively.)
Thursday also will be home to the NFL later in the fall. Per the new arrangement with the league, NBC gets five games starting on Nov. 17.
With so many returning shows, the lack of new entries lined up for the fall is not much of a shock. Aside from Timeless and Good Place, the only new scripted series to join NBC at the top of the season is dramedy This Is Us. The Dan Fogelman-produced hourlong gets Tuesday's post-Voice slot before an unmoved Chicago Fire at 10 p.m.
Aside from Blindspot, Wednesday is unchanged. Law & Order: SVU and Chicago P.D. both return to their usual time slots. And, on Fridays, there's even less to note. Caught on Camera With Nick Cannon, Grimm and Dateline NBC make for the least change of any weeknight.
And the end of the week, of course, is still home to Sunday Night Football. NBC was pretty passive about its post-NFL Sunday offerings this past season, but not anymore. The network has already committed to a January block of reality breakout Little Big Shots, Wolf's Chicago Justice and the return of Jennifer Lopez vehicle Shades of Blue.
The series saved for midseason are plenty. The Blacklist spinoff, Redemption, is one that will have to wait. It'll likely get a prime roost, depending on how episode counts are broken up. Dramas Taken; Midnight, Texas; and Emerald City — yes, still waiting on that one — also are in holding patterns, as are comedies Great News, Trial & Error, Powerless and Marlon.
NBC obviously has the advantage of announcing its schedule first, as well as the benefit of its relatively stable ratings, but the tweaks to the coming season put it in a prime position to maintain its standing among the Big Four.
NBC's Complete 2016-17 Fall Schedule
8 p.m. — The Voice
10 p.m. — Timeless
8 p.m. — The Voice
9 p.m. — This Is Us
10 p.m. — Chicago Fire
8 p.m. — Blindspot
9 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
10 p.m. — Chicago P.D.
8 p.m. — Superstore
8:30 p.m. — The Good Place
9 p.m. — Chicago Med
10 p.m. — The Blacklist
8 p.m. — Caught on Camera With Nick Cannon
9 p.m. — Grimm
10 p.m. — Dateline NBC
8 p.m. — Saturday Dateline Mysteries
10 p.m. — Saturday Night Live (encores)
7 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20 p.m. — Sunday Night Football