Sunday, May 14, 2006

2006 Upfronts: NBC Predictions

NBC has had a tough year with new shows, but a few hits did emerge, most notably 'My Name is Earl' and 'The Office'. This year NBC needs to fill gaping holes left by former hits 'Will & Grace' and 'The West Wing'. 'Joey' was a huge disappointment for the network, and much hyped new series 'Surface' and 'Conviction' just haven't been pulling in audiences. Will they survive? First, let's take a look at what appears to be on the slate for new shows in 2006: (all of this is based on news reports of shows given orders)

  • Friday Night Lights
  • Heroes
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  • The Black Donnellys
  • Kidnapped
  • Raines
  • The Singles Table (half-hour)
  • 20 Good Years (half-hour)
  • Untitled Tina Fey project (half-hour)
NBC also gets Sunday night football this year. This may mean moving some current Sunday shows around the schedule. NBC may also want to rest a couple of shows until midseason. Finally, we must calculate NBC's newest hit 'Deal or No Deal' into the equation. The show is currently running well 3 nights a week. NBC should probably cut that to 2 in the fall, to keep the show from burning out.

Okay, so what would a fall NBC schedule possibly look like?


With football taking most of the air on Sunday, and a perfectly themed drama series to accompany it, Sunday night seems like an easy night to predict. So, let's put 'Friday Night Lights' into the 10 PM slot on our grid.


'Medium' is doing well at 10 o'clock, but might need to help lead in to a new show. 'Deal or No Deal' has really taken off at 8, so I think we can slot that in the grid. I think 'Raines', which stars Jeff Goldblum as a cop who talks to dead victims, would make the perfect companion to 'Medium', which would be a good lead-in to the new show, so I'll say 'Medium' moves to 9 PM so 'Raines' can premiere at 10 PM.


This has been a tough night lately for NBC. It started out strong, when 'Earl' and 'Office' pulled good enough numbers to justify moving to Thursday. Since then, 'Scrubs' and 'Teachers' have underperformed. Still, I think NBC is committed to counter program everyone else's dramas with comedies on this night, so I think 'Scrubs' will get picked up for one more season and will stay at 9 PM. At 9:30, 'The Singles Table' might be able to gain some footing. 10 PM plays host to Law & Order: SVU and I think it will continue to do so. 8 PM is a hole, currently being filled by 'Most Outrageous Moments'. That show could get a rest and we could see a new reality show or 'The Apprentice' slotted here.


Law & Order has been the rock of this night at 10 PM for years. NBC messed with success earlier in the year with disasterous results. Expect them not to repeat that mistake again. 9 PM is currently filled with 'Dateline NBC' but that show is typically skedded when a series fails and they need to program the gap. Law & Order is still a good launch pad for a new show, but there is tough competition at 9 PM. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if 'Kidnapped' got slated at 9 PM, given its similar L&O nature. 'Deal or No Deal' is currently taking up space at 8 PM, but if NBC is smart, they will retire that edition and leave the other two airings in place. Therefore, NBC could get a jump on the night with new show 'Heroes', which would make for interesting 8 PM viewing.


There were rumors that 'ER' might move to make way for a new show. While I think this is a strong possibility, given its erosion against 'Without a Trace', I think it might get bumped to midseason to make room for Aaron Sorkin's new show 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'. As for the sitcoms, I think NBC will give a vote of confidence to 'Earl' and 'The Office' and keep them programmed on this night. Tina Fey may get the plum 9 PM slot with 'The Office' following behind. 'Earl' would do well to stay at 8 with '20 Good Years' following it at 8:30 (this new show stars John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor).


First of all, don't be surprised if 'Crossing Jordan' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' end up bumped to midseason. These are strong performing shows that can wait in the wings should any of the new shows fail (and some of them will). 'Las Vegas', on the other hand, is the little show that could, and is doing well at 9 on Friday, so it stays. 'Deal or No Deal' has a cozy home on Friday at 8, and I think it deserves to continue there. The 10 PM slot could be reserved for 'The Black Donnellys', the new show produced by Paul Haggis about four Irish brothers involved in organized crime.


This night is never programmed very strongly by anyone, and as result, Fox always wins with 'Cops'. This is where 'Dateline NBC' and TV movies go to die.

So, what's left over? Not much -- L&O: CI, Crossing Jordan, and ER could go to midseason and join 'The Biggest Loser'. Plus, 'Windfall' and a couple of reality shows are premiering in the summer. If any of those are hits, they could come back at midseason next year also. Sadly, based on my predictions, 'Teachers', 'E-Ring', 'Heist', 'Conviction', and 'Surface' would all be cancelled. Sorry 'Surface' fans, but it doesn't look good.

So, tomorrow is the day for NBC. As soon as their presentation is held, I'll report back on the actual schedule and see how I scored.

1 comment:

BooM said...

There's discussion of moving Medium to Friday nights. Why? I don't know. Perhaps to use sleeper hit Ghost Whisperer on CBS as a launch pad for Raines and Medium, assuming people change the channel?

I sincerely hope that Raines doesn't get paired with Medium, however. Because, Mr. Reilly, that is On The Nose Programming. Pairing FNL with the evening football games would be the same. But, FNL is (according to execs at NBC) their version of The OC. But, in Odessa, TX. And with football players. So, if they put it on after the game, I don't know that they'd get the demographic they're trying for.

But, if it fails, maybe he'll finally be fired, because I'm pretty sure he can't be promoted any further than he already has been.

I want to know where the hell they're going to put Heroes, because I heart Heroes. Seriously. I don't want to see it die. I think it would actually be a good pairing with Football, that or Donnellys. Because they're both fairly testosterone induced.

I really do think they should try to bring back Saturday night programming. With TiVo, it's a no-brainer.

Basically, I'm as fascinated as you are about what they'll do. I also can't wait to find out what The CW is going to do???