TV Upfronts: NBC Fall Schedule Leaves 'Voice' Alone, Banks on Family Thursday (Analysis)
"Must See TV" remains intact, with "Parks and Recreation" leading a night of otherwise new comedy and a shifted "Parenthood," while "Revolution" is left to fend for itself without any lead-in and Fridays skew genre.
If it's not broke, don't fix it. And the one infallible fixture of NBC's most recent season was having The Voice on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sunday's announcement of the 2013-14 schedule has the network's best non-football performer keeping its two-hour block at the start of the week, though Tuesday's one-hour episode has shifted to 9 p.m.
Some had speculated that the series would move to the lucrative Wednesday and Thursday slots, but the network doesn't seem to be taking any chances with its flagship property. That means buzzy James Spader drama The Blacklist will reap the benefit of the Monday lead-in, and quiet freshman hit Chicago Fire gets a major vote of confidence with a Voice lead-in on Tuesdays. (NBC's interest in growing the Dick Wolf property into a franchise will see spinoff Chicago PD bow at an unannounced date in midseason.)
The Voice's new neighbors mean that Revolution, the strongest new series of last season, will be thrown into the deep end when it moves to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. The J.J. Abrams-produced drama has yet to air without The Voice behind it. And though strong DVR growth shows that its audience is not merely one of convenience, the less forgiving time slot will be a big test for the hit.
New drama Ironside won't have a huge launch pad with Law & Order: SVU as its lead-in, but the 10 p.m. Wednesday hour worked well this past season for Chicago Fire. And NBC appears to be uninterested in trying out another new drama on Thursday.
NBC is taking a pass on using the storied 10 p.m. hour of "Must See TV" to launch any of its new dramas. The time slot has been a revolving door of ratings misses -- Prime Suspect, Awake, Do No Harm -- for the network since E.R. ended its run in 2009. The hour will now be home to family friendly Parenthood. The consistent drama, which wrapped its abbreviated fourth season on Tuesdays, moves into the post-comedy slot with only the second full 22-episode order it's had since premiering in 2010.
As for the comedies, Parks and Recreation, the only returning laugher, will launch the two-hour block with Welcome to the Family leading into Sean Saves the World at 9 p.m. That half-hour, the night's strongest for the last six seasons with The Office, was previously home to Sean Hayes' Will & Grace. The Michael J. Fox Show gets Parks and Recreation's former 9:30 slot, though that has been one of the night's most fluid half-hours for several years.
Friday looks to be another night of slight experimentation. Grimm, recently moved to Tuesdays after the axing of Ready for Love, will return to its stable Friday time slot. Airing at 9 p.m. after Dateline, Grimm will attempt to boost fellow genre entries Dracula and Crossbones. Both smaller orders, the series will fill the axed Rock Center With Brian Williams' latest hour in fall and midseason respectively. CBS will likely be their only scripted competition, as ABC is likely to keep 20/20 in its time slot.
Fans of Community will wonder where the resilient comedy's 13-episode order will air -- but the network is thus far holding off on time slot. (Freshman The Night Shift and Undateable also have yet to be scheduled.)
A move that might surprise some is NBC's second attempt at a Tuesday comedy block. The Voice's one-hour Tuesday outing will move back to 8 p.m. in the spring, leading into midseason comedies About a Boy and The Family Guide. The Voice lead worked well enough for Go On and The New Normal in the fall, but the similar comedy offerings in that hour from ABC and Fox saw their numbers dwindle. Midseason could prove less cutthroat for the hour.
Also in midseason's favor is the enviable launch pad of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. That could prove particularly helpful when NBC moves back into scripted offerings on the night with reality debut American Dream Builders leading into new dramas Believe and Crisis. (A decision on the struggling Celebrity Apprentice, midseason Sunday's traditional original offering, has yet to be made.)