Here are my thoughts on NBC’s new fall schedule (Updates NBC Bans Hollywood Trade After Reporter Sneaks Into Upfront Rehearsal And Reveals All, Including 2010-2011 Schedule And Jokes) :
— On Thursday, new workplace comedy Outsourced is getting the plum post-Office slot. After playing musical chairs with the other three Thursday comedies, Community, Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock, Parks & Recs became the odd man out, pushed to midseason. The decision makes sense: of the three, only Community has proven it could open a night and 30 Rock is the network’s most-acclaimed series. Still, a long hiatus would hinder the nice momentum Parks & Rec had this season, improving creatively on its first season and getting an extra boost by the recent addition of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe and the ascendance of co-star Aziz Ansari who is red-hot in features and is hosting the MTV Movie Awards! Amy Poehler is scheduled to go on a maternity leave in late summer but the show’s producers went to great lengths to make sure Parks & Rec was ready for fall – the comedy has stayed in continuous production and is now filming 6 extra episodes to accommodate Poehler’s pregnancy. The move almost begs for a “Really NBC?!?” version of Poehler’s popular SNL segment with Seth Meyers.
— By putting hourlong anthology romantic comedy Love Bites in the Thursday 10 PM slot, NBC is keeping Thursday all-comedy. The network shifted to that format after the end of ER, first with The Jay Leno Show following the comedy block at 10 PM, then with The Marriage Ref in midseason. (The second season of Jerry Seinfeld’s reality show once again is looking at a midseason launch) A little risky move for Love Bites. ABC’s hourlong comedy Ugly Betty, co-starring Love Bites leading lady Becki Newton, died a quick death after being moved to 10 PM this season.
— After flirting with the idea of opening a second comedy block on Wednesdays, NBC opted to shelve the idea, at least for fall. All three of its non-workplace comedies, Perfect Couples, Friends With Benefits and Paul Reiser’s Next, are being held for midseason. With The Biggest Loser a staple for NBC on Tuesdays, CBS’ Monday comedy block virtually impossible to crack with comedies on Monday and NBC’s own comedy block on Thursday, the network doesn’t have other options for a second comedy night but Wednesday. But it may help to see how ABC and CBS’ comedy plans for Wednesday pan out before NBC makes its own move for midseason.
— NBC is making a big effort to reclaim Monday night, which it once ruled in the 18-49 demo at the height of Deal Or No Deal and Heroes. The network is putting two of its highest-profile new series, The Event and Chase on the night, joining 8 PM anchor Chuck. The Event’s taking over the Heroes’ spot is symbolic, but the Bruckheimer-produced Chase has a tall order: to prove that a drama can launch big at 10 PM.
— J.J. Abrams popcorn spy drama Undercovers is a perfect 8 PM show and is getting that slot on Wednesday. But Law & Order: SVU is getting the shove again. Moved from 10 PM Tuesdays to 9 PM Wednesdays last fall to make room for The Jay Leno Show, then moved back to 10 PM Wednesdays midseason after the demise of the Leno show, now it is being shifted once again to 9 PM to help launch the latest Law & Order series: L&O: Los Angeles. Given the steep ratings decline SVU suffered in the fall when moved to the Wednesday 9 PM slot that the show has been slowly recovering from since put back at 10 PM, this could be the last scheduling move that SVU could survive.
— Outlaw aka Garza. The rollercoaster for Outlaw continues. Once a dark horse, the show produced by Conan O’Brien’s production company landing an almost improbable series order. But now, some sobering news for the legal drama starring Jimmy Smits – it has been given the Friday 10 PM time slot, generally a death slot for a scripted drama. Well, Outlaw beats the odds once, it may pull a miracle again, but its odds are very, very long.
— Overall, NBC is launching a new series in the challenging 10 PM hour Monday through Friday (freshmen Chase, LOLA, Love Bites and Garza and recently premiered Parenthood). The network tried a new show at 10 five nights a week last season with Jay Leno, let’s hope results will be better this time.
— Newly picked up superhero drama The Cape didn’t get a spot for fall and will launch in midseason, along with David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law.