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 (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, October 24

Kevin Can Wait - "Beat the Parents" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Kevin and Donna are thrilled when their son, Jack, makes friends with a boy from school, Grayden (Graydon Peter Yosowitz), however, when Donna and Kevin don’t hit it off with Grayden’s arrogant father, Vic (Ray Romano), and his pushy wife, Brandi (Lindsay Broad), they set out to sabotage the boys’ new friendship. Matt Romano guest stars as Vic’s second son, Braden.

Man with a Plan - "Pilot" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Golden Globe Award winner Matt LeBlanc stars as Adam, a contractor who starts spending more time with his three kids when his wife, Andi, goes back to work and discovers the truth all parents eventually realize—their little angels are maniacs.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Godmama Drama" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Oleg and Sophie’s plan to have Max and Caroline as Barbara’s godparents is derailed when Oleg’s domineering mother, Olga (Mercedes Ruehl), arrives from the Ukraine for the baby’s baptism and fires Max and Caroline from their godparent duties.

The Odd Couple - "Food Fight" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Oscar learns that his favorite hangout, Langford’s, is in financial trouble, he impulsively asks Felix to help save it, without considering the disastrous consequences. Also, Felix tries to make his mark on the restaurant when the owner, Fred Langford (Fred Willard), puts him in charge for a few days.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Monday, October 24

  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kate Micucci (Raising Hope/The Big Bang Theory) - Kate is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends) - Matt appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.