Cancelled: The Jay Leno Show, Heroes, Law & Order, Mercy, Trauma.
Retained: Chuck, Biggest Loser, Parenthood, Community, Who Do You Think You Are?, Dateline NBC, Minute To Win It, Celebrity Apprentice.
Moved: Law & Order: SVU, The Office, 30 Rock,.
New: The Event, Chase, Undercovers, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Outsourced, Love Bites, Outlaw.
In addition NBC has the following series for mid-season replacements: Dramas The Cape, and Harry's Law; Comedies Perfect Couples, The Paul Reiser Show, and Friends With Benefits; Reality series School Pride. Also available are returning shows The Marriage Ref, Parks & Recreation, and Friday Night Lights.
Complete Schedule: (New shows in Capitals)
8:00-9:00 p.m. Chuck
9:00-10:00 p.m. THE EVENT
10:00-11:00 p.m. CHASE
8:00-10:00 p.m. Biggest Loser
10:00-11:00 p.m. Parenthood
8:00-9:00 p.m. UNDERCOVERS
9:00-10:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU (New Time)
10:00-11:00 p.m. LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES
8:00-8:30 p.m. Community
8:30-9:00 p.m. The Office (New Time)
9:00-9:30 p.m. 30 Rock (New Time)
9:30-10:00 p.m. OUTSOURCED
10:00-11:00 p.m. LOVE BITES
8:00-9:00 p.m. SCHOOL PRIDE/Who Do You Think You Are?
9:00-10:00 p.m. Dateline NBC
10:00-11:00 p.m. OUTLAW
8:00-11:00 p.m. Encore Programming
Sunday (beginning March 2010)
7:00-8:00 p.m. Dateline NBC
8:00-9:00 p.m. Minute To Win It
9:00-11:00 p.m. Celebrity Apprentice
The Event stars Jason Ritter as an average guy who becomes involved in the biggest cover-up in the history of the United States when he investigates the disappearance of his fiancée. In the course of events he becomes involved with a diverse group of people and uncovers a global conspiracy that could change the course of human history. Also stars Blair Underwood, Laura Innes, Scott Paterson, Ian Anthony Day, and Zeljko Ivanek.
Chase is a new series from Jerry Bruckheimer starring Kelli Giddish as the leader of a group of US Marshals hunting down America's most wanted fugitives. Also stars Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Rose Rollins and Jesse Metcalfe as members of her team.
Undercovers from J.J. Abrams is about two former spies who retired after falling in love and started a small catering company. When one of their former colleagues disappears on a mission they are reactivated by their former boss and discover that the excitement and danger is what their marriage has been missing. Stars Boris Kodjoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessica Parker-Kennedy, Carter McIntyre, Gerald McRaney, and Ben Schwartz.
Law & Order: Los Angeles is the latest in Dick Wolf's L&O franchise, substituting Los Angeles for New York. Casting has yet to be announced.
Outsourced is a comedy based on the 2006 movie of the same name. The series deals with the comedic situations that an American call center manager faces when his company fires all of its American workers and outsources the work to India. Todd Dempsy (played by Ben Rappaport) faces severe culture shock while trying to educate his new Indian team on things American so that they can sell American products that they have no real exposure to. Also stars, Rizwan Manji, Sacha Dhawan, Parvesh Cheena, Anisha Nagarashan, Rebecca Hazelwood, Diedrich Bader, and Jessica Gower.
Love Bites is an hour long comedy anthology. Beckie Newton and Jordana Spiro star as the last of their friends to remain single. Their stories serve as an anchor for the series while other characters have their stories told.
Outlaw is a legal drama starring Jimmy Smits as Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza who suddenly quits and returns to private practice to fight for "the little guy," while upsetting a lot of the "big guys." Also stars Jesse Bradford, Carly Pope, Ellen Woglom, and David Ramsay.
School Pride is a reality series in which a team of experts (SWAT commander Tom Stroup, interior designer Susie Castillo, former substitute teacher Kym Whitley and political correspondent Jacob Soboroff) help the students, parents and teachers of "aged and broken down" public schools to renovate their schools and at the same time restore a sense of value and pride in the community.
The Cape is a drama about Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police department. Forced into hiding and presumed dead after being framed for a murder he takes on the identity of his son's favourite comic book character The Cape. As The Cape he battles crime including his nemesis Chess, a twisted killer who is also a multi-millionaire. He is trained by the leader of a circus gang of bank robbers, works with an investigative blogger who uncovers crime and corruption in Palm City, and has a former detective and friend as an ally. Stars David Lyons, Jennifer Ferrin, Ryan Wynot, James Frain, Keith David, Summer Glau, and Dorian Missick.
Harry's Law is a David E. Kelly series about three people looking for a fresh start. Harriet Korn (Oscar winner Kathy Bates) is a successful patent lawyer who has been fired from her cushy joband realises that she is disillusioned by her success. She meets Malcom (Aml Ameen), who is trying to figure out life, but right now needs a lawyer to help him in a criminal case, and Matt (as yet uncast – Ben Chaplin has been dropped from the project), who was Malcolm's former teacher but is now out of work. Together they for a new law firm operating out of a former shoe store. Also stars Brittany Snow and Beatrice Rosen.
Perfect Couples is a comedy about three couples who are interlinked by friendships. Dave and Julia (Kyle Howard, Christine Woods) are the "normal relatable" couple while Dave's best friend Vance and Amy (David Walton, Mary Elizabeth Ellis) are the "high-passion high-drama" couple. Rounding out the group are Rex and his wife Leigh (Hayes MacArthur, Olivia Munn) who consider themselves the "perfect couple" and relationship experts since they've attended every class and seminar on relationships and are there to share their "expertise" with their friends.
Friends with Benefits is a comedy about Ben (Ryan Hansen) and Sara (Danneel Harris) a pair of twenty-somethings who offer each other "moral and physical support" as they try to find Mr. and Ms. Right. Each has their own definitions of the right person. Also in the mix are their friends Aaron (Fran Kranz), Hoon (Ian Reed Kessler) and Riley (Jessica Lucas) who all have their own dating issues.
The Paul Reiser Show stars Paul Reiser in a fictionalized version of his day to day life. Since his successful show left the air, Paul has settled into a comfortable life with his wife and kids, but increasingly he's felt the need to do something new and meaningful – he just doesn't know what that is yet. In his search for what that is he is helped and hindered by his "friends" who are mostly the husband's of his wife's friends or the fathers of the kids his children go to school with. Co-stars include Ben Shenkman, Omid Djalili, Duane Martin, Andrew Daly, and Amy Landecker.
Bear in mind when I write about these shows here, I am giving instant uninformed analysis based entirely on the descriptions given in the network press release. While clips from the shows are out there on the Internet and quite easily available, I haven't looked at them yet. It's all based on gut instinct and what I think people will like. I like to think that for this sort of stuff at least I've got a pretty good gut.
First I want to look at a couple of time slot choices; one which could make a lot of sense, the other that may make sense in programming terms but which kind of robs me the wrong way. The first of these is the decision to place Outlaw with Jimmy Smits in the third hour of Friday slot. Initially I wondered about the thinking behind this move, given that for the most part the networks have, of late, treated Fridays as a sort of dumping ground. However the more I think of it the more the move makes a certain amount of sense. ABC will almost certainly rely on their long list of reality shows and anchor the third hour with newsmagazine 20/20 which means that the only dramatic competition will come from CBS. It seems pretty clear that CBS won't be bringing Numb3rs back given the reduced order this season and the way that the season finale played out. It seems equally unlikely that they'll keep current time slot incumbent Miami Medical which is a serviceable enough show that lacks the magic spark of an ER... and the ratings that ER got too. It seems likely then that Outlaw will go up against another freshman show, and in that case it's a bit of a crap shoot. I still give the edge – sight unseen – to CBS though.
The other timeslot situation is more of a problem for me. NBC has Parenthood on in the third hour following Biggest Loser while Law & Order: SVU is hammocked between new shows Undercovers and Law & Order: Los Angeles. The problem for me is that it doesn't seem like the appropriate time for SVU to air, given the nature of the cases that the show deals with. Certainly the Parents Television Council, which objects to SVU regardless of what time the show airs, would agree. Meanwhile Parenthood is the sort of show that could easily run in any time slot. Indeed the original plan for the series last season (before Maura Tierney's illness forced her replacement with Lauren Graham and delayed the launch to midseason) had been to run the show in the first hour of Wednesday, while SVU's placement in the second hour was necessitated by the presence of The Jay Leno Show. It would seem more logical to me to put Law & Order: Los Angeles on Tuesday night after Biggest Loser and make the Wednesday line-up Parenthood, Undercovers, Law & Order: SVU. But what do I know?
As for the shows, of the dramas that will debut in September, I think that Undercovers and perhaps Chase are the ones with a chance of success. Undercovers has the benefit of being a J.J. Abrams series and depending on how they play it, it could have something of a Hart To Hart or even the aftermath of True Lies to it. Chase immediately seems like the rather unsuccessful sequel to the movie The Fugitive, which focused on Gerard and his team of Marshals. Against a weakening CSI: Miami it might make some headway. The Event comes across like some of those attempts to recapture the magic of Lost or 24 like Kidnapped and Vanished that popped up a few years ago and disappeared almost as quickly. I'm not sure I'd get too attached to it. And I just can't get excited about Dick Wolf's latest trip to the Law & Order well. What can you do differently in Los Angeles than you could do in New York... beyond saving money with a new cast? I halfway wish they'd have tried to bring the UK version of Law & Order to an American audience.
Turning to the comedies that will be debuting in September, Love Bites really doesn't do anything for me. It reminds me of The Love Boat minus the boat. The real tricky one however is going to be Outsourced. I think that Marc Berman has made a fair point in his Programming Insider podcast that in these economic times Americans aren't really in the mood to embrace a show about American jobs being outsourced to India. I think that the potential is there for funny stuff about conflicting cultures, but I just don't know if people are going to be willing to give it a chance.
As far as the replacement dramas are concerned, Harry's Law interests me not at all. I am rather intrigued by the concept behind The Cape which reminds a lot of the classic 1940s style "mystery men" comic book characters who for whatever reason put on a costume and fought crime armed with nothing more than determination and a good right cross. Characters of this sort included the original Mr. Terrific, the original Atom, Wildcat, and yes even Batman. If they do this right it could pick up a following.
Of the comedies for mid-season, I suppose the one that interests me most is The Paul Reiser Show, which is suspect is also the one least likely to succeed. While Friends With Benefits and Perfect Couples look like shows that we've seen before (with the base model being Friends) The idea behind The Paul Reiser Show seems to be of a slightly higher quality, reminiscent of the way Larry David "plays" a version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It has probably been tried before, at least as far back as the Dick van Dyke Show but it still seems like a new idea for network TV. So of course it probably won't last.
Next up, FOX (just as soon as I write it).