NBC announces only three new series for fall 2016

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From NBC drama 'Timeless'.
From NBC drama 'Timeless'.

Boasting success, the theme to start the season is stability. But is taking a modest approach really a smart move?

"An embarrassment of riches" is how Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment, described the network’s fall 2016 primetime schedule during a conference call prior to the official unveiling to advertisers on Monday. Others might just call it lazy.

Overall, NBC will introduce only three new shows this fall: dramas "Timeless" and "This is Us," and sitcom "The Good Place." Historically, this could very well be the fewest new series NBC has ever introduced in the fall. Last season there were five.

Four series ("Blindspot," "Superstore," "Chicago Med" and "The Blacklist") are moving to new time periods. And only four nights of the week – Monday through Thursday – will feature changes. See the grid below for the specific times and the new fall show descriptions. 

"For the first time in a long time we are not running around throwing shows against the wall hoping for the best," said Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Entertainment, NBC Entertainment, during the call. "We really feel like we’ve got some great anchors and returning shows, and hits at 10 o’clock especially that have really solidified over the past year or two."

NBC does indeed have more returning shows to work with than in recent years. And the network does have five additional dramas ("The Blacklist: Redemption," "Chicago Justice," "Emerald City," "Midnight, Texas" and "Taken") and four additional sitcoms ("Great News," "Marlon," "Powerless" and "Trial & Error") waiting in the wings for a midseason or summer launch. So, there is more than initially meets the eye. 

But the immediate response to this lineup (pending the other network announcements, of course) could be that the broadcast networks are more concerned with a 12-month lineup than gutting the airwaves with the majority of new product in the fall.  

As always, success for NBC, particularly in the fourth quarter, depends on "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice." Assuming both hold up (and "Sunday Night Football" should certainly have no trouble completely dominating the landscape), NBC is the network to beat early in the season in adults 18-49 and all the key young adult demographics. And "The Voice" should offer solid lead-in support to both "Timeless" on Monday and "This Is Us" on Tuesday. But don’t be fooled about sophomore "Blindspot" anchoring Wednesday at 8 p.m. The network made this move with former Monday "The Voice" lead-out "Revolution" in fall 2013, and ultimately killed the drama. It should be no different for "Blindspot."

Naturally, one of the priorities at NBC is to build its comedy presence. So, it is no surprise the network is attempting to put new comedies in the once prosperous Thursday 8 p.m. hour care of sophomore "Superstore" and newbie "The Good Place." The logic, according to Telegdy, is that competing "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS will be absent for five weeks in place of "Thursday Night Football." But, again, don’t be fooled. Once Sheldon and Leonard, and company, do return, "Superstore" will not be able to compete. And that will not benefit "The Good Place."

Sophomore "Chicago Med" is generic enough to pick up steam in the Thursday 9 p.m. hour, which will only benefit relocated "The Blacklist" at 10 p.m. But another concern is NBC keeping the sluggish Friday night lineup of "Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon," "Grimm" and "Dateline" intact. The network has only ordered 13 new episodes of "Grimm," which means it will have to rethink its strategy in midseason. And Saturday, like its competitors, is a complete wasteland.

While you do have to give NBC credit for bringing more shows back than in recent years, originality is the spice of any primetime schedule. And with only three new shows to initially choose from, nothing on this fall lineup seems overly exciting. 

What follows is the NBC primetime schedule in fall 2016 (with new shows in bold), followed by the new series descriptions:

8:00 p.m. "The Voice" (two hours)
10:00 p.m. "Timeless" ("Taken" in midseason)

8:00 p.m. "The Voice"
9:00 p.m. "This Is Us"
10:00 p.m. "Chicago Fire"

8:00 p.m. "Blindspot" (new day and time)
9:00 p.m. "Law & Order: SVU"
10:00 p.m. "Chicago PD"

8:00 p.m. "Superstore" (new day)
8:30 p.m. "The Good Place"
9:00 p.m. "Chicago Med" (new day)
10:00 p.m. "The Blacklist" (new time)

8:00 p.m. "Caught on Camera With Nick Cannon"
9:00 p.m. "Grimm"
10:00 p.m. "Dateline"

8:00 p.m. drama repeats
9:00 p.m. drama repeats
10:00 p.m. "SNL" (repeat)


7:00 p.m. "Football Night in America"
8:30 p.m. "Sunday Night Football"

New Fall Program Descriptions

Studio: Sony Pictures TV/Davis Entertainment/Kripke Enterprises/MiddKid Productions
Team: Eric Kripke (w, ep), Shawn Ryan (w, ep, sr), John Davis (ep), John Fox (ep), Marney Hochman (ep), Neil Marshall (d, ep)
Logline: An unlikely who travel through time to battle a master criminal intent on altering the fabric of human history with potentially catastrophic results.

Cast: Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Goran Visnjic, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey, Claudia Doumit

"This Is Us"
Studio: 20th Century Fox TV
Team: Dan Fogelman (w, ep), John Requa (d, ep), Glenn Ficarra (d, ep), Jess Rosenthal (ep), Charlie Gogolak (ep)
Logline: Dramedy follows an ensemble — some of them sharing the same birthday — whose life stories intertwine in curious ways.
Cast: Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, Ron Cephas Jones


"The Good Place"
Studio: Universal TV/3 Arts Entertainment/Fremulon
Team: Mike Schur (w, ep), David Miner (ep), Drew Goddard (d)
Logline: Centers on a woman wrestling with what it means to be good.
Cast: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, D’Arcy Carden



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