Monday, May 06, 2013

SitcomsOnline.com 2013-14 Upfront Preview: NBC; Remembering Sitcom Director Jack Shea

NBC
Next week is the big week in the TV world--the network upfronts! And as usual, the week prior to the upfronts, we preview on what we think the networks will do! NBC and Fox are up first next Monday (May 13). We will preview NBC today and Fox tomorrow. So let's get right to it!

NBC has a huge hit in The Voice and of course Sunday Night Football in the Fall, but other than that, there is pretty much nothing else that is doing big ratings. Newbie Revolution started strong but has struggled since returning from a big hiatus. Are they better off airing 22 episodes (or something less, like 13-16?) in consecutive weeks?  That might happen next season. Here is the SitcomsOnline.com NBC 2013-14 preview:

New Series Already Picked-Up: MJF (comedy), Dracula (drama), Food Fighters (reality), Renovation Nation (reality), Million Second Quiz (reality) and Crossbones (drama).
Already Renewed Returning Series: Sunday Night Football, Revolution, Law & Order: SVU,  Chicago Fire, Parenthood, Sing-Off & Grimm.
Other Likely Returning Series: The Biggest Loser, The Voice, Parks & Recreation, Celebrity Apprentice, Go On, Off Their Rockers, Hannibal, Rock Center with Brian Williams and of course Dateline.
Likely To Be Canceled or Already Canceled: Fashion Star, Whitney, Up All Night, Guys with Kids, New Normal, 1600 Penn, Deception, Take It All, Smash, Ready for Love, Do No Harm, Animal Practice, 30 Rock, The Office, and Community.
Likely Other New Series Pick-Ups (our picks): Happiness (comedy for fall), Undateable (comedy for fall), About a Boy (comedy for fall), Crisis (drama for fall), The Blacklist (drama for fall), Welcome to the Family (comedy for mid-season), Assistance (comedy for mid-season), Believe (drama for mid-season), and The Hatfields and McCoys (drama for mid-season).

OUR FALL 2013 PREDICTION:

Mondays
8:00PM The Voice
10:00PM Crisis (NEW!)

Tuesdays
8:00PM Food Fighters (NEW!)
9:00PM The Voice
10:00PM The Blacklist (NEW!)

Wednesdays
8:00PM Parks & Recreation
8:30PM Go On
9:00PM Grimm
10:00PM Chicago Fire

Thursdays
8:00PM Happiness (NEW!)
8:30PM Undateable (NEW!)
9:00PM MJF (NEW!)
9:30PM About A Boy (NEW!)
10:00PM Parenthood

Fridays
8:00PM Dateline
9:00PM Law & Order: SVU
10:00PM Hannibal 

Saturdays
8:00-11:00PM Repeats

Sundays
7:00PM Football Night in America
8:00PM Sunday Night Football

COMMENTS: NBC had a decent 2012-13 season, helped of course by NFL (and the Super Bowl) and its reality hit The Voice, but they found some marginal hits that they could expand on next season. This past winter NBC was basically closed for the winter with nothing hitting a 3.0 once in adults 18-49 from January to the end of March. They need to make sure that doesn't happen next season (and it won't since the Winter Olympics are on the way). With the Olympics coming in February, NBC could launch some mid-season dramas that could hit big like J.J. Abrams' Believe or The Hatfields and McCoys, but before we get in to all that--there is still fall 2013 to deal with. Mondays in the fall will have a fall version of The Voice and it will be interesting to see who the judges will be. They should keep Shakira and Usher, as they have really made the spring version spike. The Biggest Loser could return in January to hold the timeslot for The Voice, which would return in March. At 10pm, while not doing that great in the spring, Revolution did well in the fall but I think it would not be anywhere near those numbers next fall. Perhaps NBC could split the timeslot between a new drama, like Crisis, in the fall and Revolution in the winter and spring? Any other timeslot or night would be lethal and would kill it. On Tuesdays, The Voice could be used to anchor the night at 9pm instead of airing at 8pm. It would strengthen the night. A new reality show that they have already ordered could air at 8pm, like Food Fighters. In the winter, NBC could air Off Their Rockers from 8-9pm and possibly launch a new reality series at 9pm to keep the slot warm for The Voice in the spring. At 10pm, NBC needs to be aggressive and schedule one of their better pilots, like The Blacklist and that series seems like it would have rewatchability value and could last the entire TV season.

Wednesdays is still a bit of a problem, as the 8pm hour has been low rated for quite some time. NBC could try again with comedies in the hour, but this time they should go with something that isn't new like Parks & Recreation and Go On. At 9pm, SVU. has struggled this season and I think it would be better off airing Fridays and air Grimm here instead. Grimm would be a good lead-in to Chicago Fire, which could benefit from that series. On Thursdays, the comedies are very low rated and keep going down each season. NBC needs to find more broad appealing comedies and they basically should air brand new comedies here. NBC could opt to air even an hour of traditional style comedies to help this night. Depending on where CBS schedules Big Bang (will it be still at 8pm or will they move it to 9pm?), I think they should try the Sean Hayes multi-cam Happiness into another one like Undateable from Bill Lawrence. The single-camera comedy hour of Michael J. Fox's new series and something like About a Boy starring Minnie Driver and Leslie Bibb could work on this night. Which hour will lead-off is the question, right now I'm leaning towards the multi-cams. At 10pm, NBC has struggled badly. Perhaps they could just air 35 weeks of Parenthood (22 new, 13 repeats) on a new night? It can't do any worse than what they have been doing? Fridays will likely need to change since I would move Grimm to Wednesdays. Perhaps Dateline could move down to 8pm, so NBC could try Law & Order: SVU at 9pm. That series originally thrived on Fridays, so it would be a return to the night. At 10pm, perhaps a drama like Hannibal would be a good option for them at 10pm. It could do well on a less competing night like Fridays instead of Thursdays. NBC could also use Dracula or Crossbones on the night at some point. Not sure what NBC will do with Rock Center, but it could always share the slot with Dateline or even air on Saturdays? Dateline usually airs on two nights in the winter/spring anyway.

Rounding out the fall schedule is of course NBC's savior Sunday Night Football. What would NBC do if they didn't have the NFL in all of those terrible seasons? They need to find a better schedule in mid-season on Sundays as right now they have Celebrity Apprentice from 9-11pm, but they have given up 7-9pm with repeats. NBC is in decent shape for next season because they also have the Winter Olympics. They need to take advantage of that platform and premiere some new series out of that. They wasted an opportunity for the summer 2012 Olympics by previewing some weird shows (Animal Practice?). NBC needs to fix Thursdays and make sure they can find at least one hit (averaging over a 3.0 in 18-49) to go along with The Voice and SNF. If that happens, they could be second place in 2013-14, only trailing CBS.

Remember, next Monday (May 13) is the actual date when we will find out NBC's plans for the 2013-14 season. So, come on back next Monday and we will let you know the details and you can see how much we were right (or wrong). Stay tuned next week for the official fall line-ups for all the networks. I love this time of year!
Discuss your thoughts on our prediction and feel free to make suggestions of your own!


Jack Shea

Legendary sitcom director Jack Shea, who worked on Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Silver Spoons, has died. He died on April 28 in Tarzana, California from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Mr. Shea was 84.

Shea directed episodes of over 30 sitcoms during his nearly 40-year career. He directed 15 episodes of Sanford and Son from 1972-1974. He directed 110 episodes, wrote 3 episodes and produced 24 episodes of The Jeffersons from 1975-1979. In 1979-1980, he directed all 22 episodes of the second season of The Ropers, which was a spin-off from Three's Company. Shea worked as the primary director of Silver Spoons from 1982-1987, for which he directed 91 episodes and wrote 2 episodes. He directed 14 episodes of Designing Women from 1986-1988. In 1987, he received an Emmy nomination for his work on Designing Women. Other sitcoms that he directed multiple episodes of included O.K. Crackerby!, Checking In (The Jeffersons spin-off), The Tortellis, The Charmings, Full House, Sugar and Spice, His & Hers, Sunday Dinner, The Hogan Family, Growing Pains, The Royal Family, 704 Hauser and Sister, Sister. Shea was a three-time president of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) from 1997 to 2002.

The Archive of American Television conducted an extensive interview with him on December 9, 2002. Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Patt Shea, his four children Shawn, Bill, Michael and John Francis III, and grandchildren Amanda, Michael, Dylan, Hudson Patrick, Katie and Jackson. His daughter, Elizabeth, preceded him in death. We thank him for bringing us many laughs and quality hours of television. He will be greatly missed.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, July 29

Family Guy - "Christmas Guy" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Carter Pewterschmidt cancels the annual Quahog Christmas carnival, because he hates the holiday, Peter must transform his father-in-law from a Scrooge into a hometown hero in order to salvage the event. Meanwhile, Stewie devises a master plan to get the one and only thing he wants for Christmas.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Full Boyle" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Detective Boyle’s new romance has upped his swagger, but Jake intervenes before his colleague goes “Full Boyle” and gets too serious, too soon, with his girlfriend (guest star Marilu Henner). Meanwhile, Rosa and Amy have trouble taking a costumed citizen crime-fighter seriously, and Captain Holt has a new opponent.

New Girl - "Exes" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Nick has an awkward run-in with his ex, Caroline (guest star Mary Elizabeth Ellis), Jessica tries to convince him he can still be friends with her, by introducing him to her former boyfriend, Berkley (guest star Brody). Meanwhile, Coach uses Schmidt’s loft to impress a date, but things turn farcically disastrous when Schmidt arrives home with his own potential bedmate.

The Mindy Project - "Indian BBW" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mindy (Mindy Kaling) discovers an incriminating video of herself that is floating around the internet, so she enlists the help of Peter (Adam Pally) to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

Sullivan & Son - "Open Mic Night" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When Steve wants to have an Open Mic night at the bar to get on the Hot List in The Pittsburgh Reader, Susan discovers she has a new talent...and it involves making fun of Ok Cha. But when Open Mic night goes awry, Steve brings in Carol and Owen (and their inappropriate act) to save the day.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 28) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, July 29

  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Catch Chris on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Molly Shannon (Kath & Kim) - Molly is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Cloris Leachman (Raising Hope/The Facts of Life/The Mary Tyler Moore Show) - Cloris appears on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Leah Remini (The King of Queens/Family Tools) - Tune in to see Leah on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Joel McHale (Community) - Joel will be on GMA Live! at 9:00am. He will also be a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.