Upfront week for the broadcast networks is finally here, and NBC is kicking things off by sticking with what's worked in the past (at least until it didn't).
The peacock net is introducing 12 new series in the 2017-18 TV season: five dramas, three comedies and four non-scripted series (see the fall schedule and new program descriptions below). Three of those 12 new series (dramas "The Brave" and "Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers;" and the revival of "Will & Grace") will debut this fall.
The big news? NBC is bringing back "Must See TV."
The network is hungry for new comedies, so you can't fault them for hoping the audience that went wild for the online "Will & Grace" reunion last fall will also show up for the upcoming series revival. But it's scheduled for the Thursday 8 p.m. half-hour, which means it will (likely) face "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS and "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC. Oof! Lead-out "Great News," which was left at the freshman starting gate this spring, owes its renewal predominantly to its association with co-creator Tina Fey. And not even moving "This Is Us" into the Thursday 9 p.m. hour is a guarantee of the same success the show had in season one. NBC used that same strategy with "The Blacklist," which relocated from Monday to Thursday in its second season, and the drama has never been the same by the numbers.
Naturally, a new edition of "Law & Order," like any Dick Wolf crime and punishment-themed hour, will attract some generic interest. But only eight episodes for upcoming "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers" in the Thursday 10 p.m. hour is limited. And any growth for NBC on Thursday next season will likely be offset by the losses the net will face without it on Tuesday (which is being replaced out of "The Voice" with low-rated comedies "Superstore" and "The Good Place").
Last year at this time, we were all convinced that "This Is Us" would be a standout, and many of us were thankful the network was taking a creative risk. This year, the cast was front-and-center at the upfront presentation to receive the well-deserved accolades in person. But other than that, NBC seems to be rearranging a lot of low-rated programming, perhaps playing a game of "deck chairs" with dramas like "The Blacklist," "Blindspot" and "Taken;" and the aforementioned sitcoms. Is the network moving "This Is Us" too soon?
When all is said and done, "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice" will, once again, continue to carry NBC. The two combined properties accounts for about one-third of the network's line-up, and neither is going anywhere. So consider NBC poised for more dominance in adults 18-49 and the other key young adult demographics (at least in fourth quarter).
But what seems to be lacking for fall is that next big show, unless you believe it's "Will & Grace."
From Keshet Studios and Avi Nir ("Homeland") comes a fresh journey into the complex world of America's elite undercover military heroes. While D.I.A. Deputy Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche) and her team of analysts wield the world's most advanced surveillance technology from Washington, D.C., Adam Dalton and his heroic Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists use their unbreakable bond and commitment to freedom to save lives of innocent people and execute missions in some of the most dangerous places in the world. The cast includes Mike Vogel, Sofia Pernas, Tate Ellington, Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse, Noah Mills and Hadi Tabbal.
"Good Girls" (midseason)
When three suburban moms get tired of trying to make ends meet, they decide it's time to stick up for themselves by robbing the local supermarket at (toy) gunpoint. But when the manager catches a glimpse of one of them and the loot is far more than they expected, it doesn't take long for the three best friends to realize the perfect getaway will be harder than they think. From executive producer Jenna Bans ("Scandal") comes this comedy-infused drama that mixes a little "Thelma & Louise" with a bit of "Breaking Bad." The cast includes Retta, Mae Whitman, Reno Wilson, Manny Montana, Lidya Jewett, Izzy Stannard and Matthew Lillard.
"Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers"
Starring Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Edie Falco ("The Sopranos," "Nurse Jackie"), this new eight-episode true-crime installment of the "Law & Order" franchise delivers an in-depth dramatization of the notorious murder case that changed America forever. When the Menendez brothers were tried on national TV for brutally killing their parents in Beverly Hills, their story became a national obsession. Now, the first edition of this anthology series delves into the players, the crime and the media circus, detailing the day-to-day battles of the trial and unveiling the shocking truth of what really went down when the cameras stopped rolling.
From Mickey Fisher, the creator of "Extant," this grounded new thriller follows Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), a former hostage negotiator and expert on human behavior who became a college professor after facing an unimaginable personal tragedy. But when she's brought in to save ordinary people who have lost themselves in a highly advanced virtual-reality program in which you can literally live your dreams, she finds that in saving others, she may actually have discovered a way to save herself. The cast includes Sarah Shahi, Dennis Haysbert, Jessica Lu, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Kathryn Morris.
From Jason Katims, writer and executive producer of "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood," and "Hamilton" producer Jeffrey Seller comes this story about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school's lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. The cast includes Marley Shelton, Auli'i Cravalho, Damon J. Gillespie, Amy Forsyth, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Casey Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joe Tippett and Shirley Rumierk.
"A.P. Bio" (midseason)
When a philosophy scholar loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher, he makes it clear he will not be teaching any biology. Realizing he has a room full of honor roll students at his disposal, he decides instead to use the kids to his own benefit. The cast includes Glenn Howerton, Patton Oswalt, Lyric Lewis, Mary Sohn, Aparna Brielle, Jacob McCarthy, Nick Peine and guest star Vanessa Bayer (pilot only).
Vince, a charismatic gym owner with no ambition, lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya (Mindy Kaling), one of his old high school flings. The cast includes Anders Holm, Andy Favreau, J.J. Totah, Mouzam Makkar, Nina Wadia and guest star Mindy Kaling.
"Will & Grace"
Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their infamous roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen in this exclusive 12-episode event. James Burrows, director of every original "Will & Grace" episode, returns along with a slew of razor-sharp jabs and dirty martinis. Behold once again, from the minds of Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, TV's wittiest ensemble ever.
"The Awesome Show" (midseason)
From executive producer/host Chris Hardwick ("The Wall"), executive producer Mark Burnett ("The Voice") and Silicon Valley's Singularity University comes a new series that will showcase the groundbreaking scientific and technological advances that are shaping the future, as well as celebrate the pioneers and communities at the forefront of this golden age of unprecedented discovery, innovation and opportunity. Each episode of "The Awesome Show" will be a rollercoaster ride through the world of innovation as told by the people who are shaping it and whose lives are affected by it. The series will highlight stories of revolutionary scientific and technological advances and will marvel at mankind's tremendous feats, both now and in the future.
Mark Burnett, Chris Hardwick and Alex Murray executive produce. "The Awesome Show" is produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio in association with Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Fish Ladder.
"Ellen's Game of Games" (midseason)
Ellen DeGeneres returns to primetime to host this one new game show that's one big party! Featuring super-sized versions of some of the most beloved games from "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," as well as new ones, contestants will be pulled from the studio audience to maneuver massive obstacles while answering trivia questions, all under the pressure of Ellen's mischievous and hilarious antics. With DeGeneres' witty and comedic sensibility plus fun-filled games, each episode is sure to entertain the entire family and deliver lots of laughs. One lucky contestant will get the chance to win the grand prize, but everyone will have a blast!
"Genius Junior" (midseason)
No stranger to young geniuses, Neil Patrick Harris hosts this new game show that celebrates the smartest kids in America. These talented "genius juniors" will team up to take on mind-blowing tests of logic, math, memory, spelling and more. Through escalating rounds, they will be tested in each area of the brain, culminating in an ultimate challenge to be crowned the smartest and brightest. The winning team will take home a life-changing prize—setting the stage for a big, bright future ahead.
"The Handmade Project" (midseason)
From executive producer and host Amy Poehler and co-host Nick Offerman comes a lighthearted competition celebrating the creativity and craftiness in all of us. Each week, eight amateur makers will take on a series of projects they must complete in their own unique way. As the competition escalates, the amateurs will be challenged to master progressively difficult skills, culminating in a final craft-off between the most creative and tenacious contestants. Shot in a serene outdoor setting, this friendly competition will focus on the character and camaraderie of DIY culture—and through it all, Poehler and Offerman will provide encouragement, guidance and plenty of laughs.
NBC Fall Line-Up
*New shows in caps
8 p.m. "The Voice"
10 p.m. "THE BRAVE"
8 p.m. "The Voice"
9 p.m. "Superstore" (new day and time)
9:30 p.m. "The Good Place" (new day and time)
10 p.m. "Chicago Fire"
8 p.m. "The Blacklist" (new day and time)
9 p.m. "Law & Order; SVU"
10 p.m. "Chicago PD"
8 p.m. "WILL & GRACE" (return)
8:30 p.m. "Great News"
9 p.m. "This Is Us" (new day)
10 p.m. "LAW & ORDER: TRUE CRIME: THE MENENDEZ BROTHERS"
8 p.m. "Blindspot" (new day)
9 p.m. "Taken" (new day"
10 p.m: "Dateline"
8 p.m. "Dateline: Saturday Night Mystery" (repeat)
10 p.m. "Saturday Night Live" (repeat)
7 p.m. "Football Night in America"
8:20 p.m. "Sunday Night Football"