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Plenty of networks would be shy to mess with a success as great as This Is Us, but NBC is moving the hit drama to a new night for its sophomore season. Revealing its new fall schedule on Sunday morning, ahead of Monday’s pitch to advertisers, the network announced that This Is Us will now air on Thursdays — part of a very clear pitch to rebuild the former “Must-See TV” night, one of its few problem spots in recent years.
This Is Us, which has also been tapped for that choice 2018 Super Bowl platform as the post-game special, will be joined on Thursdays by comedies Will & Grace (returning to its old night as an event series) and modest newcomer Great News — as well as Dick Wolf’s Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Murders. Putting all those eggs in the Thursday basket does present one issue for scheduling, however, in the competition of Thursday Night Football on CBS at the top of the season and NBC having its own games later in the fall. NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, speaking with reporters, tried to temper any concerns that all of the interruptions might be problematic for the Big Four’s new No. 1 drama.
“Yes, there will be CBS games opposite our lineup, which there would be no matter what,” said the exec. “The show will be on for six weeks and then preempted for six weeks. It will come back in January, with a couple weeks of preemptions for Olympics. There’s a little bit of on-again, off-again.”
Thursday is not an unrisky move. Fox famously kept Empire in the time slot that made it a hit, despite the fact that it hasn’t been able to launch any new shows by airing at the end of its primetime block. But This Is Us has proven to be a draw all on its own on Tuesdays, with or without a lead-in from The Voice.
Greenblatt, who also dropped word that Great News producer Tina Fey can be expected to make an appearance on its new season, said that he’s trying to soften the breaks for This Is Us by making a Christmas special for the episode. (That is still only in the tentative early stages.)
When asked if NBC was officially bringing back the branding of “Must-See TV,” Greenblatt confirmed that the network will again be using the phrase in its marketing and promotions. (It hasn’t been used in earnest since 2006.) “We really want it to happen organically, but I think it’s as close to Must-See TV as we’ve ever had in our history,” added Greenblatt, summing up the This Is Us move. “We’re going to try to lead the audience.”
Elsewhere on the slate, new drama The Brave gets the choice platform of Monday’s post-Voice time slot. That launch pad has had mixed success as an incubator for new dramas, with this year’s freshman crop (Timeless, Taken) retaining a smaller portion of its lead-in and 2015 entry Blindspot not carrying its audience in its own move. Two of those shows, Blindspot and Taken, will now air on the slightly less-pressure night of Friday.
There isn’t an abundance of “new” on the schedule. The Brave is the only true freshman on the schedule, considering the history of Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchise on the network and the fact that Will & Grace is essentially a ninth season for the comedy that last aired in 2006. That means that most of the tweaks, and there aren’t that many, are focused on returning shows.
For Tuesday, that means comedies Superstore and The Good Place airing after The Voice — and Chicago Fire returning to 10 p.m. On Wednesdays, the ever-softening Blacklist will now start the night at 8 o’clock before mainstays Law & Order: SVU and Chicago P.D. Sunday is obviously never a question for NBC’s fall lineup with TV’s No. 1 franchise in Sunday Night Football. But once the NFL season wraps, NBC did confirm that (for now) the night will be home to Little Big Shots, Ellen’s Game of Games and the third season of Jennifer Lopez’s Shades of Blue.
Left on deck for midseason, with no timing or night planned, are Jason Katims‘ drama Rise, Jenna Bans’ Good Girls and Reverie. Returning drama Chicago Med will move to Thursdays at 10 p.m. once Law and Order: True Crime wraps. On the comedy front, A.P. Bio and Champions will also premiere later — as will alternative ventures Chris Hardwick’s The Awesome Show, Neil Patrick Harris’ Genius Junior and Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman’s The Handmade Project.
NBC’s complete fall 2017 schedule
8 p.m. ET/PT — The Voice
10 p.m. — The Brave
8 p.m.— The Voice
9 p.m. — Superstore
9:30 p.m. — The Good Place
10 p.m. — Chicago Fire
8 p.m.— The Blacklist
9 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
10 p.m. — Chicago P.D.
8 p.m. — Will & Grace
8:30 p.m. — Great News
9 p.m. — This Is Us
10 p.m.— Law & Order: True Crime —The Menendez Murders
8 p.m. — Blindspot
9 p.m. — Taken
10 p.m. — Dateline NBC
8-10 P.M. — Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
10-11 P.M. — Saturday Night Live (encores)
7 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20 p.m. — Sunday Night Football
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