Monday, May 06, 2013 2013-14 Upfront Preview: NBC; Remembering Sitcom Director Jack Shea

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 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).


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

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

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

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

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

8:00-11:00PM Repeats

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.

New on DVD/Blu-ray (November)

The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Remastered Series (DVD) Maude - The Complete Third Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Final (Fourth) Season McHale's Navy - The Complete Series Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Fourth Season

11/03 - Californication - The Complete Series
11/03 - Getting On - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
11/03 - Hank (1965-66) - The Complete Series
11/03 - I Love Lucy - The Complete Series
11/03 - Men at Work - The Complete Second Season
11/03 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/03 - 'Til Death - The Complete Third Season
11/10 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Remastered Series (DVD)
11/10 - Maude - The Complete Third Season
11/10 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Final (Fourth) Season
11/17 - Cristela - The Complete First Season
11/17 - McHale's Navy - The Complete Series
11/17 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Fourth Season
11/24 - George Lopez - The Complete Sixth Seaon
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, November 26

The Muppets - "Pig Out" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The gang has an epic night out when they run into Ed Helms at Rowlf’s Tavern and they all perform their favorite karaoke jams, but Kermit is not pleased when no one shows up to work the next day. Meanwhile, Fozzie has an unfortunate accident during the show.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Huangsgiving" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Huangs are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and Jessica is determined to out-do her sister who has hosted in years past. Clipboard in hand, Louis puts Emery and Evan on table décor duty while he and Jessica prepare the perfect feast. But despite their best-laid plans, unexpected mishaps and hangovers force Louis and Jessica to scramble to get an edible meal on the dining table. Meanwhile, Eddie and his cousin discover the power of the Internet.

The Middle - "Thanksgiving VII" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With the Heck house in disarray due to the kitchen sink hole and miniature dining room table, Frankie suggests that the family enjoy a Thanksgiving feast at the local King’s Feast buffet. But all does not run so smoothly when Sue invites her boyfriend Darrin to dine with the family and gets the feeling that Mike doesn’t like him very much, Brick invites his quirky girlfriend Cindy, and Axl is forced by Frankie to invite a girl he doesn’t even know to the holiday meal.

The Goldbergs - "In Conclusion, Thanksgiving" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
everly insists the entire family gather for the holiday, but tension builds when brother-in-law Marvin tricks Pop-Pop into thinking Thanksgiving was at his house.Meanwhile, Pops passes the torch to Barry and Erica to give the holiday toast, resulting in them trying to one-up each other.

Last Man Standing - "The Gratitude List" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repet)
Although Vanessa is disappointed it will only be her, Mike and Eve at the Baxter Thanksgiving table, she’s more let down when Eve bypasses one of their holiday traditions and calls it “goofy.” Meanwhile, Kristin finds out Mandy is lying to their parents about where she and Kyle will be spending Thanksgiving dinner.

Dr. Ken - "Thanksgiving Culture Clash" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Molly rebels and gets a Japanese tattoo, which spirals Ken and Allison into having a cultural face-off when Allison claims she is more Japanese than Ken is Korean. At a holiday dinner, they push their traditional dishes on their guests, while Dave documents the Thanksgiving events for a school project. Also, Julie, fearful of being alone due to a recent heartbreak, invites the office over to her place – but Damona and Clark try finding a way to leave early so they can make it to their other Thanksgiving plans.

The Big Bang Theory - "The Matrimonial Momentum" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After driving to Vegas to get married, Penny struggles with Leonard’s confession that he kissed another girl. Also, Sheldon doesn’t know how to act after Amy pushes pause on their relationship. Laurie Metcalf returns as Sheldon’s mother, Mary.

Life in Pieces - "Hospital Boudoir Time-Out Namaste" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Jen cuts her finger and Greg takes her to the hospital, they finally have the first quality alone time they’ve had in months. Also, John takes Samantha and Sophia to a restaurant where everything is named after feelings, Heather gives Tim a sexy anniversary gift, and Sophia is punished after Heather hears her swearing.

Mom - "Sawdust and Brisket" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy is thrilled when Violet tells her she wants to spend more time together and improve their relationship. Also, Bonnie tries to make amends with her nemesis in the building, Beverly (Amy Hill). David Krumholtz returns as Gregory, Violet’s fiancé.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Maybe Baby" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When the girls run into Caroline’s newly engaged ex, Candy Andy (Ryan Hansen), Caroline wonders if she made a mistake when she sees how much he supports his fiancé’s career.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 23)

Thursday, November 26

  • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Catch Queen Latifah on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. She reveals her unusual first job, her first big splurge, her latest obsession and more on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation/The Office) - Rashida stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family/Back to You/Out of Practice) - Ty appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lake Bell (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/How to Make It in America) - Lake is a guest on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jack Black (The Brink) - Jack will be on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia is a guest on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer talks about her Amazon show Red Oaks on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Judith Light (Transparent/Phenom/Who's the Boss?) - Judith talks about Transparent on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry talks about World's Funniest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Sofia chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Scott Foley (The Goodwin Games/A.U.S.A./Scrubs) - Scott appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.