9:30am PT by Michael O'Connell
NBC Fall Schedule Strives for Year-Round Stability, Plots All-'Chicago' Wednesdays
NBC was the first network to announce its schedule for the 2018-19 broadcast season on Sunday morning, and the new lineup is a clear reflection of how pleased network brass are with the current momentum.
Aided by both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, NBC is wrapping a season that currently sees ranks it as No. 1 in both the key demographic and total viewers — the latter a rare lead over CBS. So the additions and tweaks that do appear on the schedule are surgical, an effort to maintain the current 38 percent advantage it holds over its closest competition. That will be a clear point of emphasis come Monday, as will the decision to import some of summer's biggest hits (America's Got Talent, World of Dance) to midseason, when the lineup is presented to media buyers at the network's Radio City Music Hall presentation.
A mere three new series join the schedule in the fall. That's out of eight orders for the coming year, not including the previously announced Julian Fellowes drama Gilded Age, ordered for 2019. Making the cut are dramas Manifest and New Amsterdam. Manifest, a heavily serialized drama from Robert Zemeckis, will get the prime post-Voice time slot on Mondays. That hour is proving more and more difficult for newcomers, but it's still one of the best launchpads the network has to offer. Same goes for New Amsterdam's arrival on Tuesdays. Slotting the medical drama after This Is Us, the network's No. 1 series across the board, means NBC is hoping a procedural might be better paired with the family drama than another heavily serialized effort. (See recent missed opoortunities Rise and Law & Order: True Crime.)
The only other new series making the cut for NBC's fall primetime lineup is I Feel Bad. The comedy, from Aseem Batra and Amy Poehler, joins the Thursday-night sitcom block — airing after the revived Will & Grace. Another tweak to the night comes at 10 p.m., where the network is shifting its oldest drama. Law & Order: SVU will now wrap that night, leaving Wednesday open to an all-Chicago block with Dick Wolf's three other dramas — Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.. (Fridays will be home to Blindspot; Midnight, Texas and Dateline NBC, while Sunday Night Football obviously anchors the end of the week.)
Midseason efforts are aplenty — including, as of that eleventh hour save on Friday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The canceled Fox comedy will join fellow incoming half-hour Abby's (also from producer Michael Schur) at some point down the line. "As soon as we figure some more details about midseason time periods, we'll let everybody know," NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt assured reporters on Sunday.
New dramas without slots include The Enemy Within, The InBetween and The Village (one of the network's hotter projects, affectionately described by some as "This Is Us in an apartment building").
Returning series that have planned returns already set are The Blacklist, shifting to Fridays, and Good Girls, which will move to Sundays. NBC's early midseason commitments aren't limited to scripted. The network is rolling out an even more aggressive lineup of reality series than it has of late, with summer hits World of Dance and America's Got Talent both getting screen time in January and February, as will Ellen's Game of Games and Dwayne Johnson's yet-to-premiere The Titan Games.
NBC is the most-skilled of the Big Four in programming reality shows — and the heavy load after the start of the new year should help alleviate the inevitable ratings fatigue that comes from a post-Olympics and post-Super Bowl year.
NBC's 2018 Fall Schedule
8-10 p.m. ET/PT — The Voice
10-11 p.m. — Manifest
8-9 p.m. — The Voice
9-10 p.m. — This Is Us
10-11 p.m. — New Amsterdam
8-9 p.m. — Chicago Med
9-10 p.m. — Chicago Fire
10-11 p.m. — Chicago P.D.
8-8:30 p.m. — Superstore
8:30-9 p.m. — The Good Place
9-9:30 p.m. — Will & Grace
9:30-10 p.m. — I Feel Bad
10-11 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
8-9 p.m. — Blindspot
9-10 p.m. — Midnight, Texas
10-11 p.m — Dateline NBC
8-10 p.m. — Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
10-11 p.m. – Saturday Night Live (encores)
7-8:20 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20-11 p.m. — Sunday Night Football