NBC fall schedule taps old TV stars Michael J. Fox, Sean Hayes and James Spader for new series
There could not be a more precarious time for network TV outlets, especially NBC.
Competition from cable and online providers has never been fiercer. And broadcasters are still locked into a cycle of shoving their best shows on in a rush during the fall and going mostly dormant during summer that cable has used to its advantage.
So when NBC announced its new schedule Sunday, analysts were looking for clues that the former 800-pound gorilla of the network TV business would be ready to reinvent itself at a time when such innovation was needed most.
Instead, with a raft of new shows featuring Michael J. Fox, X-Files alum Gillian Anderson, former ‘80s heartthrob James Spader, ex-L.A.Law star Blair Underwood and Will & Grace alum Sean Hayes, NBC seems to be counting on old school TV stars to rescue a network which plunged from first to worst in a single season.
In all the network announced 14 new scripted series for the 2013-14 season, with major additions to almost every night of the week in its fall schedule.
Gone are smartly urbane, low-rated comedies exemplified by The Office and 30 Rock, both of which ended their runs this season. Instead, the Thursday night which was once nicknamed Must-See-TV will become a home for family-oriented shows, including a new sitcom starring Michael J. Fox playing a man suffering from the malady he faces in real life, Parkinson’s disease, in The Michael J. Fox Show.
Family drama Parenthood also surfaces on Thursdays, along with Sean Hayes’ new Sean Saves the World. Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack anchor a comedy about a Latino family brought together with an anglo family when two high schoolers get pregnant, Welcome to the Family. (oddly, the night kicks off with Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler’s workplace comedy about a municipal employee in Indiana.)
Adventure drama Revolution moves to Wednesdays where it must survive without popular lead-in The Voice and kick off a night of programming. After Law & Order SVU – it’s the cop drama no amount of low ratings can kill! – Blair Underwood returns in a remake of the ‘70s cop show Ironside (originally played by Raymond Burr, Ironside gets remade as a leather jacket-wearing detective, demoted from the police commissioner Burr played.)
James Spader is a notorious international fugitive and former FBI agent who will only speak to a young, female agent to help catch a dangerous terrorist in The Blacklist (shades of Silence of the Lambs!), while Gillian Anderson must help cope when the children of Washington D.C.’s elite are kidnapped by terrorists in Crisis.
Out the door to cancellationville: Smash, The New Normal, Go On, Whitney, Up All Night, Deception, 1600 Penn, Do No Harm and the newsmagazine Rock Center. No decision yet on The Celebrity Apprentice (though star Donald Trump insists on Twitter it has been renewed) or Hannibal.
Oh, and as NBC is trying to make all these shows work, it will also be replacing Tonight Show host Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon and – officially announced Sunday – Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Myers with Fallon as host of the 12:35 p.m. Late Night show.
Sounds like the equivalent of replacing all four tires on a sportscar while its traveling at 60 mph. Good thing they have the Winter Olympics to count on in February; with all this uncertainty in the wind, NBC will need all the sure things it can muster.
Here's NBC's new schedule for fall. New shows in bold
“The Voice,” 8 p.m. ET
"The Blacklist," 10 p.m. ET
“The Biggest Loser," 8 p.m. ET
"The Voice," 9 p.m. ET
“Chicago Fire," 10 p.m. ET
“Revolution," 8 p.m. ET
”Law & Order: SVU,” 9 p.m. ET
“Ironside,” 10 p.m. ET
“Parks and Recreation," 8 p.m. ET
“Welcome To The Family,” 8:30 p.m. ET
"Sean Saves The World," 9 p.m. ET
“The Michael J. Fox Show,” 9:30 p.m. ET
“Parenthood," 10 p.m. ET
“Dateline NBC,” 8 p.m. ET
“Grimm,” 9 p.m. ET
"Dracula," 10 p.m. ET
“Football Night in America,” 7 p.m. ET
“NBC Sunday Night Football,” 8:15 p.m. ET