upfronts 2016

NBC Schedule: Lots of Chicago, More Blindspot and Blacklist, and Getting Back to Comedy

Blindspot - Season 1
Photo: NBC/2016 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

NBC Sunday took the wraps off a new fall lineup featuring just three new shows, but one very important scheduling shift: It’s getting back into the comedy business on Thursdays, a night it once owned with its Must-See TV lineup. Unfortunately, the Peacock’s bid to restore its half-hour luster on the evening won’t include its critically praised The Carmichael Show, which currently finds itself in limbo due to NBC’s reluctance to give the show anywhere near a traditional full-season episodic order. Instead, the network’s Thursday will lead off with the second season of another well-reviewed and decently rated half-hour, The Office–like Superstore, and The Good Place, a new comedy from Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur starring former NBC Thursday night staple Ted Danson (Cheers) and Kristen Bell.

After several rocky years, NBC has stabilized its overall schedule and now has some source of strength on every night of the week, thanks to a combination of The Voice and a plethora of CBS-worthy procedural dramas. While the network is suffering through the same problems as all TV outlets these days— namely, audience erosion— network chief Robert Greenblatt said he “couldn’t be happier” with where NBC is now and that as a result, there’s no need to roll out a lot of new offerings right away. “For the first time in a long time, we’re not running around throwing stuff against the wall and hoping for the best,” the executive told reporters during a Sunday morning conference call, later adding he was “dancing a jig” over his network’s success. So while NBC has ordered 12 new shows for next season, just three are currently set to debut in the fourth quarter: New dramas Timeless and The Story of Us and the aforementioned Schur comedy.

Despite a lack of new fare, NBC is still making a couple of reasonably bold scheduling moves. While — or, perhaps, because — first-year drama Blindspot did so well Mondays at 10, the network is moving the show to Wednesdays at 8, replacing the now-canceled The Mysteries of Laura. Instead, NBC’s best time slot (following the two-hour performance edition of The Voice) will go to a time-travel thriller from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. And on Thursdays, NBC has opted to move The Blacklist back an hour, to 10 p.m., in order to schedule Dick Wolf’s Chicago Med at 9 p.m. Greenblatt said the switch will allow Blacklist to have a solid lead-in (assuming Med continues to do well on its new night). Moving Med from Tuesdays also frees up space for relationship-driven dramedy This Is Us, which NBC insiders have been raving about privately and appears to be going after the same audience once claimed by Parenthood.

As for Carmichael, Greenblatt didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic about the show when pressed for details about its absence. He said NBC and its studio partner, 20th Century Fox TV, couldn’t agree on how long season three of the show should run. “We’re going back and forth with the studio about the number of episodes,” Greenblatt said. “Hopefully we’ll resolve it soon.” When asked what the disagreement was, he said studios “always want more” episodes of show, but that NBC didn’t have unlimited space (even though right now the network has just two half-hour comedies scheduled in the fall, and Carmichael is, amazingly, now its longest-running sitcom.). “We have a robust schedule with a lot of new shows,” he said. “We’re trying to fit everything in there.” When Vulture asked about reports from industry insiders suggesting NBC wanted to make only 10 episodes of Carmichael next season, and that 20th wanted 13, Greenblatt declined to engage, saying he wouldn’t comment on negotiations.

As for midseason plans, NBC said it will slot new drama Taken (a spin-off of the movie) Mondays at 10 next winter. Here’s the full NBC fall schedule:

8 p.m. The Voice
10 p.m. Timeless

8 p.m. The Voice
9 p.m. This Is Us
10 p.m. Chicago Fire

8 p.m. Blindspot
9 p.m. Law & Order: SVU
10 p.m. Chicago P.D.

8 p.m. Superstore
8:30 p.m. The Good Place
9 p.m. Chicago Med
10 p.m. The Blacklist

8 p.m. Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon
9 p.m. Grimm
10 p.m. Dateline NBC

8 p.m. Saturday Dateline Mysteries
10 p.m. Saturday Night Live (encores)

7 p.m. Football Night in America
8:20p.m. NBC’s Sunday Night Football

NBC Schedule: Lots of Chicago, More Comedy