Monday, April 9, 2007

NBC Fall 2007 : My Hopes & Predictions

This week I'm making my hopes and predictions for the fall public for all to know. Not that anyone would want to. I'm going through and making educated guesses about which shows will be on the primetime schedules come the fall. Be it returning shows or pilots currently in development.

Be warned: I'm an expert only insofar as a self-proclaimed couch-potato can be an expert. I watch a lot of network TV and so here is how I think the fall will go down for NBC. That being said, step aside Kevin Reilly.

08.00 : Deal Or No Deal
09.00 : Heroes
10.00 : Journeyman *new series*

Let Me Explain My Monday
Obviously Deal Or No Deal has to go somewhere and I might as well leave it where it is. Heroes has been nothing short of dynamite. I can't see moving it.

Journeyman is probably NBC's answer to ABC's Life On Mars. It's a show about your average fella with an average existence who suddenly ends up being catapulted into the past where he fixes people's problems and stuff. Oh and then there's the ex who died in a mysterious plane crash. Knowing what he knows now, can he save her?

08.00 : Scrubs *new night & time*
08.30 : Andy Barker P.I. *new night & time*
09.00 : Winters *new series*
10.00 : Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Let Me Explain My Tuesday
As of yet, nothing's official but I'm fairly sure Scrubs will be back and I have it leading off my night. It'll be the seventh season and any show that's been on that long should be strong enough to anchor a night. I have real doubts over whether Andy Barker P.I. will be back for a second season but it's the funniest new show out there I think. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is one of a number of shows that got early renewals. Why change timeslots?

Winters, a new show, is essentially House as a woman with a police badge. She's described by the network as "a tough-as-nails detective" who adheres to the mantra "everybody lies" until she's paired with a church-going dude who sees the good in all people. Why do I like it? First, it's written by David Shore and Peter Blake, the guys behind House (hence the House-like nature of the lead). Said lead to be played by the always amazing Famke Janssen. I don't care if she's Dr. Jean Grey or Julia McNamara's life coach. Toss in husband-and-wife team Sarah Clarke and Xander Berkeley (both from FOX's 24) to round out the cast, and I'm 100% behind it.

08.00 : Friday Night Lights
09.00 : Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip *new night & time*
10.00 : Law & Order: Criminal Intent *new night & time*

Let Me Explain My Wednesday
Friday Night Lights is my lead-off hitter even though it hasn't garnered the ratings to warrant another go-around. The thing is, I'm dead convinced it is one of the best written shows on broadcast television today. I was thrilled with Sorkin's writing on Studio 60 but it is nothing compared to this show. I hate football. That's how good this show is.

All right, now this is where the "hopes" thing comes in. I'm smart enough to know that even if NBC puts Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip back on the air for its remaining six episodes, there's almost no chance of it returning for a second season. We've heard it all before. High costs + low ratings = canceled show. (Superb writing/acting are not factors in that equation, if you noticed.) That doesn't stop me from wishing, though. And I moved Law & Order: Criminal Intent because I felt like it.

08.00 : My Name Is Earl
08.30 : The Office
09.00 : Business Class *new series*
09.30 : 30 Rock
10.00 : ER

Let Me Explain My Thursday
My Name Is Earl and The Office were among the first NBC comedies to get early renewals. Obviously I'm letting them kick off what I hope will be the return of Must-See TV Thursday on the Peacock. ER is one of those obvious ones. That's right folks, prepare yourself for season 14.

I'm pairing 30 Rock (Tina Fey is hilarious) with the new show Business Class, which is a single-camera comedy about a traveling soda salesman with no conscience. I loved FOX's Keen Eddie from 2003, so with Mark Valley in the lead role, I'm dying to see this show make a splash. It also features Horatio Sanz and Krista Allen (from HBO's Unscripted).

08.00 : Chuck *new series*
09.00 : Las Vegas
10.00 : Law & Order

Let Me Explain My Friday
Typically considered to be a dead night when it comes to TV ratings, Friday might not be the wisest place to premiere a new show. But fresh on the heels of the finale of The O.C., I felt creator Josh Schwartz and his new show Chuck could handle it. It sounds pretty funny. A nerdy, everyman computer whiz named Chuck gets a mysterious, encoded email from an old friend who now works for the CIA and gets caught up in the world of espionage. I enjoyed the first several episodes of The O.C. so I know Schwartz can write. The question is, will NBC interfere as much as FOX did?

Las Vegas got picked up for a fifth season and I still haven't figured out why but I'll leave it. And if you thought ER's been on a long time, just wait until the eighteenth season of Law & Order.

08.00 : Dateline NBC
09.00 : repeats
10.00 : repeats

Let Me Explain My Saturday
Nobody watches television on Saturday night so none of the networks really schedule anything besides repeats and movies and sports. Dateline NBC can stand on pretty much any night of the week. People just love their news magazines. Personally, I'm indifferent. Repeats of various shows from during the week can fill out the night when there are no movies.

07.00 : Sunday Night Football

SUNDAY (alternate)
07.00 : Dateline NBC
08.00 : The Apprentice *new time*
09.00 : Life *new series*
10.00 : Medium *new night & time*

Let Me Explain My Sunday
Since ABC lost Monday Night Football to ESPN, I think NBC is trying to capture the audience. Regardless, I'm going to put in my vote for an alternative Sunday lineup. I know I'm suggesting two nights in a row of Dateline NBC but it's been on Sunday at 7 for as long as I can remember. I don't like The Apprentice but a lot of people watch it. So there it is.

I thought I'd work in one more new show before the end of the week. Life is a drama about a cop who spent years in prison, wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Now he's out and he brings a unique perspective to a job he loves. Damien Lewis is the lead and the cast rounds out with Adam Arkin, Sarah Shahi and Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane in HBO's Deadwood).

I'll leave Medium to top off the night but that assumes football won't be on the fall schedule. If that is the case, let's call this the midseason schedule for Sunday. Which brings us to...

As always, you need a handful of shows that can step in and serve as a replacement when one of your new shows does a swirly. I'm keeping Raines, Identity (watched it on and it wasn't half bad) and The Biggest Loser (even though I've never watched it) around for a late start.

As for new series, I'm kind of interested in seeing The Bionic Woman on the air at some point. It's a remake of the '70s show of the same name. English actress Michelle Ryan plays the title character in a cast that also features Mae Whitman (Ann from FOX's Arrested Development), Miguel Ferrer and Molly Price (NBC's Third Watch).

NBC already put the ax to The Black Donnellys and Kidnapped. I've taken the liberty of canceling a couple other shows I think would be better off on the wayside. Say your last goodbyes to 1 vs. 100 (even though I've never watched it) and Crossing Jordan. I watched/liked the first season of the medical examiner series, but I think it's worn out its welcome. See ya on A&E.

So there, that was my run at playing the NBC Entertainment President. Reilly, you can have the job back now. I look forward to seeing your selection next month.

The Peacock fell to the bottom of the barrel the last few years after losing the likes of Friends, Frasier and The West Wing (among others), but they started getting it back last season with some great new series.

I look forward to the new and returning shows in the fall. But before we rush into that, I am eagerly awaiting season finales of my NBC shows: Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Scrubs, Andy Barker P.I. My Name Is Earl and The Office.

Kevin Reilly announces the official NBC fall schedule on Monday, May 14.

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