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NBC is solidifying its fall schedule, including the returns for scripted comedies and dramas.
While ABC and CBS have dated scores of unscripted fare, NBC is has released its formal plan to return to its business as usual schedule. The network will launch its fall schedule in September with a roster of unscripted series and slowly rollout original dramas and comedies — as well as The Voice — starting in October with Martin Gero’s social distance series Connecting and the return of Superstore.
The slate of dramas, including This Is Us, four Dick Wolf shows and The Blacklist, will all return in the second week of November. Additional returning series will join the schedule in 2021, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Good Girls, Manifest, New Amsterdam, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and rookies Kenan, Law & Order: Organized Crime, Mr. Mayor and Young Rock.
The network’s strategy is similar to what ABC is doing with its “sliding” returns for originals. The Disney-owned broadcaster expects scripted to slowly return in October and ideally be back on in November. CBS, sources say, is also targeting a November return. Fox and The CW, meanwhile, plan to launch new and returning series in 2021, allowing productions ample time to adjust to a new normal that includes extensive safety protocols to film during the pandemic.
NBC is using Dan Fogelman’s mega-hit This Is Us to market its flagship drama returns as a “November to remember.” The push means a shift from the traditional launch of the fall season from Premiere Week in the third week of September to later in the year.
Scripted originals have had a slower path back to production during the pandemic as they now require increased time to film with the new safeguards, all of which add to the costs associated with production.
Unscripted series have been sustaining the broadcast networks of late as those productions are easier to do in quarantine, where some casts on shows like American Ninja Warrior are able to be contained during their quick turnaround.
NBC’s announcement comes a hours after ABC set its unscripted schedule and day after CBS unveiled premiere dates for its fall. NBC, CBS and ABC had all planned similar business as usual fall schedules. Instead, CBS — like ABC — is relying on unscripted series as well as so-called “gently used” programming that previously aired on other platforms. The latter strategy will see CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery and Spectrum’s Manhunt join the fall schedule as scripted hits like NCIS and Young Sheldon are held for a later launch pending a return to production.
Here are NBC’s premiere dates:
Transplant (Tuesday, 9/1, 10-11 p.m.)
American Ninja Warrior (Monday, 9/7, 8-10 p.m.)
NBC Sunday Night Football (Thursday, 9/10 and Sunday, 9/13, 8:20 p.m.)
Weakest Link (Monday, 9/28, 10-11 p.m.)
Dateline NBC (Friday, 9/25, 10-11 p.m.)
Connecting … (Thursday, 10/1, 8:30-9 p.m.)
Ellen’s Game of Games (Tuesday, 10/6, 8-10 p.m., then 9-10 p.m. on 10/13)
The Voice (Monday, 10/19, 8-10 p.m., Tuesday, 10/20, 8-10 p.m. then 8-9 p.m. on 10/27)
Superstore (Thursday, 10/22, 8-8:30 p.m.)
This Is Us (Tuesday, 11/10, 9-11 p.m.; returns to 9-10 p.m. on 11/17)
Chicago Med (Wednesday, 11/11, 8-9 p.m.)
Chicago Fire (Wednesday, 11/11, 9-10 p.m.)
Chicago P.D. (Wednesday, 11/11, 10-11 p.m.)
Law & Order: SVU (Thursday, 11/12, 9-10 p.m.)
The Blacklist (Friday, 11/13, 8-9 p.m.)