I hear that NBC is about to make some scheduling moves. The network is keeping mum, but there is speculation that rookie comedies Up All Night and Whitney, both with full-season orders, may be swapping places. Up All Night is getting murdered in the Wednesday 8 PM slot, so it will probably benefit from a protected run behind The Office. It also is single-camera and has a workplace element like the rest of NBC’s Thursday’s lineup. Up All Night will likely move to the Thursday 9:30 PM spot, but Whitney may be a bit too racy for the Wednesday family hour. Also possibly on the move is NBC’s new fairytale drama Grimm, which started off strong in the Friday 9 PM slot but has been slipping since. While the series’ long-term potential is still unclear, given the dearth of strong prospects at NBC this fall — especially on the drama side — the network probably should give the newbie a shot.
NBC just released the dates for the season finales of its series. The way some of them are floundering (The Event, Chuck, Outsourced, Perfect Couples), those may as well be series finales. Three of the network’s comedies, flagship The Office, Parks & Recreation and Community, will have hourlong closers. Here is the list, from the newest drama, Harry’s Law, on Apr. 4 to the oldest reality series, The Biggest Loser, on April 24:
Retooled freshman drama Law & Order: Los Angeles will return to the schedule with a two-hour episode on Monday, April 11 and will move to its regular Monday 10 PM time period the following week. “We are pleased to welcome Law & Order: Los Angeles back to NBC’s regular lineup,” NBC’s chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “Dick Wolf and his team have made some exciting creative changes and we can’t wait to re-introduce the show to audiences.”
LOLA will see Alfred Molina in his new role as Detectives Ricardo Morales, partnered with Tomas “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) as they pursue cases through the diverse City of Angels. As part of the creative overhaul of the show, which included the departure of 3 regulars, including Skeet Ulrich, Alana de la Garza, veteran of the mothership Law & Order series, is joining the series, reprising her role as Deputy District Attorney Connie Rubirosa. Staying put is Terrence Howard as Deputy District Attorney Jonah “Joe” Dekker.
Earlier this season, LOLA averaged a 2.5/7 in adults 18-49 and 9.0 million viewers overall. The show launched to some gripes from die-hard Law & Order fans that the newest installment has strayed from what made the first 3 Law & Order series work. In the new incarnation of LOLA, the producers are addressing that, making the series closer in feel to the others, darker and less “blue sky” than its original run in the fall.
L&O creator …
After those eye-popping numbers for Minute to Win It at 9 PM last night (3.0 in 18-49), NBC didn’t take long to expand the silly human tricks reality show to 2-hours permanently. Freshman Chase is being pulled effective immediately. The freshman procedural produced by Jerry Bruckheimer was given a second chance with a midseason move from its original Monday 10 PM slot to Wednesdays 9 PM but it was crushed there by American Idol.
NBC is making changes to its midseason schedule. Dramedy Parenthood, which was slated to air 4 episodes in January in its regular Tuesday 10 time period, take a break and then move to the Monday 10 PM berth on March 7, will now remain in its Tuesday slot through the end of the season. Law & Order: Los Angeles, which was scheduled to take over the Tuesday 10 PM slot on Feb. 8, will now be held back, with its return date/slot TBD. The decision comes after two consecutive solid showings for Parenthood (2.3 and 2.2 Live + same day 18-49 rating), which came from winter hiatus 21% higher, as well as an OK premiere for Harry’s Law in the Monday 10 PM slot last night (2.1 demo rating and a time slot-winning audience of 11 million). NBC had planned to air only 6 of the 13 episodes of Harry’s Law on Mondays before Parenthood moved in; now it will extend the run of David E. Kelley’s newest legal drama. The move also won’t break Parenthood‘s current momentum. And last but not least, the decision to hold LOLA will give the Law & Order spinoff some breathing room as it is undergoing major creative changes.
On the unscripted side, NBC is moving series America’s Next Great Restaurant from Wednesdays to Sundays after good early feedback for the new series, including at last week’s TCA. It was supposed to premiere …
NBC has reduced the order to freshman procedural Chase by 4 episodes, from full-season 22 to 18. Chase, from Warner Bros. TV and Bruckheimer TV, was the lowest-rated NBC series to snag a full-season pickup last month but many believed it didn’t get a fair shake by going against Hawaii Five-O on Mondays this fall with little publicity for its launch. NBC planned to give Chase a more protected time period in midseason, moving the series to Wednesdays 9 PM where it was to air against CBS’ veteran crime drama Criminal Minds. But because of Fox’s surprising decision to change the airing pattern of American Idol, Chase will now face even tougher competition in its new time slot going against Idol. NBC and Fox have formally announced their midseason schedules, ABC has done it piecemeal while CBS is said to be in no rush as its fall schedule is working and it, with no cancellations, it has no immediate holes to fill.
With its entertainment lineup largely underperforming this fall, NBC is making wholesale changes for midseason with moves on every night, including a rarely-seen on broadcast TV 10-11 PM comedy block for an all-comedy Thursday. Additionally, the network has given one of those Thursday comedies, 30 Rock, an early renewal for next season, the Emmy winning series’ sixth. It also represents a vote of confidence for the series, which is entering uncharted territory with a Thursday 10 PM slot midseason assignment. In addition to a 3-hour comedy block on Thursdays, which will include Community at 8 PM, followed by new series Perfect Couples, The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock and Outsourced, NBC’s other major scheduling moves for midseason include shifting Parenthood to Mondays, Law & Order: Los Angeles to Tuesdays, Chase to Wednesdays and Law & Order: SVU to 10 PM on Wednesday. “The goal for our mid-season schedule was to keep us in original programming throughout the season and launch several promising new shows, said NBC’s EVP planning and scheduling Mitch Metcalf. “We were looking to add more comedy to our schedule and we believe the best way to do so is to expand our already successful Thursday night.” When NBC gave new Thursday comedy Outsourced a full-season order last month, it became clear that the network wouldn’t be able to contain its half-hours within its established Thursday 8-10 PM block as it also had Parks & Recreation and new entries Perfect Couples and Friends with Benefits on deck for midseason. The network brass explored the possibility of opening a second comedy night but reportedly felt it was not the right time to do so. And, unless it was to go on an assault against CBS’ Monday and ABC’s Wednesday comedy blocks the way CBS did against NBC on Thursday this fall or to bump established Tuesday performer The Biggest Loser, NBC had no real opening for a second comedy night. As for its new all-comedy Thursday, the network already flirted with the idea last spring when it launched comedy reality series The Marriage Ref at 10 PM and in May when it scheduled hourlong comedy Love Bites in the hour. (After a production start delay, the anthology series is now in production for a late spring launch). But airing half-hour comedies at 10 PM on broadcast TV has been very rare and has not fared well so far. However, a 10 PM comedy block is very common on cable TV with such series as HBO’s Entourage and Comedy Central’s South Park.