Monday, May 15, 2006
The NBC Television Network was the first of Big Five (downsized by one with the CW merging of UPN and the WB, ABC, CBS and FOX) to unveil it's 2006-2007 Fall Television schedule to advertisers in New York City today. And upon looking at it's schedule I have to applaud NBC for showing its hungery side. Having shown a DISASTROUS year this past year, I REALLY think NBC will provide some challenges to FOX and ABC next year. CBS will still be the network to beat, but I think NBC will be one of the few networks to show increases in viewers with its just-announced line-up. [Go to www.zap2it.com for full schedule and professional insiders' points of view to the line-up; I have not read any professional views on the NBC line-up, so I may be way off base in my predictions. The pro's may in fact hate the NBC line-up, but I LOVE it]....I am also kind of biased. I have been a fan of the NBC network since the CHEERS and FAMILY TIES days. Last year I really pitied the network for it's weak line-up of THE APPRENTICE and MARTHA STEWART and BIGGEST LOSER reality staples. THIS year, only BIGGEST LOSER remains (with THE APPRENTICE probably popping up mid-season).... Okay, here are my reasons why NBC will improve: 1) FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL! Personally, I am not a football freak, but it can't be ignored that football equals ratings, and Sunday Night Football (with FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA immediately preceding it) will provide ratings - as well as a great launching pad to adverstise other NBC shows - ESPECIALLY the football series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. 2) One of the biggest Happy Surprises for NBC last year was the cult success of DEAL OR NO DEAL. Now, it's hard to know when the bottom will eventually drop from the buzz this show is bringing to the table, but NBC is wise to milk it for all its worth with two weekly airings next season - Monday and Friday nights. On Mondays, DEAL will be a GREAT lead-in to the new show HEROES, which is a drama about a group of people realizing they have super powers. HEROES is one of the 4 new NBC shows that I am most looking forward to seeing. 3) The SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE factor. Believe it or not, but SNL has been not ready for primetime for NBC since 1975. It's one of my all-time favorite shows, and I never miss a TiVo-ed episode. So you can imagine how OFF THE WALL happy I was when I found out that NBC was picking up TWO shows based on the behind the scenes workings of an SNL-like show. Prior to the upfronts, it was assumed that only STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP would see air-time. But today Weekend Update and SNL head writer Tina Fey's sitcom 30 ROCK also made the sked. What 30 ROCK will mean to the future of Tina Fey and 30 ROCK co-star Rachel Dratch remains to be seen. Former SNL vet Tracy Morgan is also in the cast.....MEDIUM returns for a 3rd season on Monday nights, following HEROES. If HEROES can hang on to DEAL OR NO DEAL: MONDAY's ratings, then MEDIUM should see it's ratings spike over this past season's middling numbers... FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, with the push in exposure from SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, should kick Tuesday's off to a nice start - I mean, it can't get any worse than what this year brought - JOEY? SCRUBS? TEACHERS? MOST OUTRAGEOUS MOMENTS?. So if FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is a hit, then the season-long unfolding of KIDNAPPED could- and should - pay off. With PRISON BREAK and 24 as hot ticket shows that use their entire season to unfold a single-themed event, KIDNAPPED could be a surprise hit. Then again - look how fast HEIST flopped. Probably the best news for KIDNAPPED is that it will precede LAW & ORDER: SVU - the most popular of NBC's LAW & ORDER franchise....Wednesday's will be admittedly tough for NBC. THE BIGGEST LOSER kicks things off, and last year's edition wasn't exactly a smash. There is also the possibility that people just don't care any more about reality TV as much as they used to (AMERICAN IDOL and SURVIVOR aside). This weak lead-in could spell trouble for newcomers 20 GOOD YEARS and 30 ROCK after it. Further, ABC will likely be keeping LOST at this time, which isn't a show to mess around with. So, even though I WILL BE watching NBC's two comedies at this hour, it doesnt sound like the popular vote for the rest of America. The venerable LAW & ORDER shuts out the evening...On Thursdays, MY NAME IS EARL and THE OFFICE kick off the night. Both comedies were bright spots in the NBC schedule this last year, but a late-season ratings weakening of both shows may spill over into this season. But then again, WILL & GRACE and JOEY/FOUR KINGS weren't exactly great lead-ins for EARL and OFFICE. Now, these two shows will lead in to the MUCH ANTICIPATED new Aaron 'WEST WING' Sorkin created/Matthew 'Friends' Perry-starring dramedy STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. Sure, the show will be going up against CSI, and no, STUDIO 60 won't be a ratings smash, but it IS hard to ignore the buzz and excitement surrounding this IT show, and if the people show up to watch it, and the creators have created an exciting hour, then perhaps NBC's woes on Thursday nights might be in a state of turn-around...Finishing out the night is ER for the first half of the season and newcomer THE BLACK DONNELLYS premieiring in January. The buzz behind DONNELLYS is that it is created by the extraordinary Paul Haggis (MILLION DOLLAR BABY and CRASH)...Friday nights will provide NBC with another night to see its ratings go up. DEAL OR NO DEAL: FRIDAY kicks things off, which will help out LAS VEGAS. LAS VEGAS normally might be a show to see its last legs, but having it sandwiched between DEAL OR NO DEAL and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT might just give it another patch of ratings glory. Still, I dont see LAS VEGAS being on NBC's schedule too much longer...Saturday nights will see a DATELINE NBC: SATURDAY and then Drama Series Encores.