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

Thursday, July 24

The Big Bang Theory - "The Discovery Dissipation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Leonard and Amy help Sheldon cope with the shame he’s feeling after his accidental contribution to science is disproved. Meanwhile, Raj must stay with Howard and Bernadette for a week.

The Millers - "Driving Miss Crazy" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Nathan gets frustrated after he’s forced to drive Carol around town for errands once again, he demands that she either learn how to drive or find another chauffeur. But when Debbie volunteers Adam to drive Carol, everyone’s surprised when they form an unexpected bond.

Welcome to Sweden - "Proving Love/Lagenhet" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bruce (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) move into an apartment in Stockholm and Bruce tries his best to introduce himself to the neighbors. Meanwhile, the couple is forced to prove their relationship at the immigration office, but the interviews don’t go quite as planned. Elsewhere, Emma suspects one of Bruce’s former clients, Aubrey Plaza (guest starring as herself), may be stalking him, while another, Amy Poehler (guest starring as herself), is in desperate need of his professional assistance.

Working the Engels - "Jenna's Friend" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Jimmy (Benjamin Arthur) gives their grandmother’s ring to a stripper, Jenna (Kacey Rohl) is forced to intervene to get it back – and makes an unlikely friend in the process. Meanwhile, Sandy (Azura Skye) wins free mother/daughter hip-hop classes and brings Ceil (Andrea Martin) along, but they quickly realize the class isn't meant for them. Ceil is ready to get out of there, until a former friend makes fun of Sandy, and then Ceil is determined not only that they stay, but that they win the dance competition. Rachel Wilson, Rebecca Dalton and Shawn Byfield guest star.

Married - "The Shower" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
A.J. and Jess hijack Russ and Lina's night out.

You're the Worst - "Insouciance" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy attempts to take Gretchen on a date.

Love That Girl - "The Hot Seat" (TV One, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Imunique agrees to throw a bachelorette party for DeMiracle's fiance.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 21) (All times ET unless noted)

Thursday, July 24

  • David Duchovny (Californication) - Catch David on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman) - Mary Lynn stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique appears on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
  • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Tune in to see Kristin on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) and Nat Faxon (Married/Ben and Kate) - Judy and Nat talk about their new FX series Married on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. They will also be on HuffPost Live.
  • Adrienne Barbeau (Maude) - Adrienne discusses her role in the Hallmark Movie Channel original movie The Memory Book on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Greg Poehler (Welcome to Sweden) - Greg is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Leah Remini (The King of Queens/Family Tools) - Leah appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig will be on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
  • Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling (Mystery Girls) - Jennie and Tori are guests on Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel at 7:45am. Jennie will also be on HuffPost Live.