Nets release post-strike plans

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UPDATED 10:44 p.m. PT Feb. 13

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The broadcast networks wasted no time firming up their post-strike schedules.

NBC and CBS on Wednesday announced premiere dates for their returning series that will begin airing original episodes March 17 when CBS' Monday comedies come back.

In addition, NBC renewed three drama series for next season: the sophomore hit "Heroes" and the freshmen "Chuck" and "Life."

"Chuck" and "Life," which had received back-nine orders during the strike, have been picked up for 13 episodes. "Heroes" will air more than 22 episodes, with the exact number yet to be determined. The shows won't air original episodes in the spring but will be relaunched in the fall.

"These pickups are a sign of our confidence in these quality series and will allow the respective producers to get a head start on their creative arc for next season," NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff said.

Faced with the difficulties of relaunching freshman and heavily serialized dramas for several new episodes after the strike, the broadcast networks have mostly opted to hold these shows for next season.

ABC earlier this week renewed freshmen "Pushing Daisies," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Private Practice" for next season without bringing them back for more originals this spring.

Similarly, Fox opted not to start a new story arc on "Prison Break" until next fall or late summer.

NBC's Thursday lineup will begin airing scripted originals April 3 with a one-hour premiere of "My Name Is Earl." "The Office," "30 Rock," "Scrubs" and "ER" will return April 10.



The ending of "Scrubs," now in its final season, is still up in the air. Beginning April 10, NBC will air the five episodes in the can, but it hasn't ordered the remaining six episodes of the comedy's original order that would mark the end of the series' seven-year run.

Talks with producer ABC Studios are still underway about airing those episodes or a one-hour finale on NBC, or else including them on the series' DVD.

Another NBC series whose future is uncertain is "Friday Night Lights," which won't return with new episodes this spring.

Returning to production is "Medium," which will continue airing original episodes.

CBS' multicamera comedies "Two and a Half Men," "The Big Bang Theory" and "How I Met Your Mother" will air the most original episodes this spring with nine apiece, followed by "CSI: Miami" with eight and three other procedural dramas -- "CSI: NY," "NCIS" and "Criminal Minds" -- with seven.

"Rules of Engagement" will rejoin the network's Monday comedy block April 14.

All CBS series except "The Unit," "Cane" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" are resuming production. That includes midseason drama "Swingtown," which hasn't been scheduled yet.

In addition to the freshmen picked up for next season, ABC's series not going back to production for the time being are "Women's Murder Club," "Big Shots," "Men In Trees," "Notes From the Underbelly," "Cavemen" and "Carpoolers."

Fox is rumored to be ordering four or five fresh episodes of its hit drama "House" and a couple more segments of "Bones," which already has four in the can.

CW's orders include eight to nine episodes for "The Game," six for "One Tree Hill," four to five for "Supernatural," four to six for "Reaper" and five for "Smallville" and "Gossip Girl."
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