Network Upfronts by John Keegan

2014 Network Upfronts: NBC

2014 Network Upfronts: NBC

NBC has seen its fortunes rise slightly in the past year, but that doesn’t mean that it is anywhere near the top of the ladder.  Not much of what was attempted in 2013-2014 succeeded, which in some respects was a good thing for genre fans.  That’s the context for looking at what NBC has announced for the 2014 fall season and beyond:


8-10PM “The Voice” (Returning)
With American Idol all but sliding into its ultimate demise, shows like The Voice have put a fairly successful spin on the formula.  I still have little to no interest in it, but I suppose it still has enough of an audience for NBC to keep it as a staple on the schedule for now.

10-11PM “The Blacklist” (Returning)/”State of Affairs” (NEW)
NBC was successful in debuting The Blacklist early in the fall season, grabbing an audience when there was little else to serve as distraction.  The show easily earned a sophomore season.  Later in the fall, NBC will try debuting State of Affairs in this timeslot, a Katherine Heigl vehicle by the same producers.  Early buzz is mediocre, with many questioning if Heigl can really carry a show on her own.


8-9PM “The Voice” (Returning)
Same comments as for the Monday night version; but I do note that NBC seems to be spreading out its reality programming.

9-9:30PM “Marry Me” (NEW)
Basically, it boils down to this: Jake is ready to commit, but Annie is unhappy that it’s taken this long; hilarity ensues.  It’s a Jamie Tarses production, but that’s hardly a given.  This strikes me as an early casualty of the fall season.

9:30-10PM “About a Boy” (Returning)
The film did nothing for me, so the prospect of watching a television version wasn’t high on my priorities.  The devoted were happy about a renewal, of course, so good on them!

10-11PM “Chicago Fire” (Returning)
Chicago Fire has been an unexpectedly solid performer, even if it’s easy to forget it even exists.  While it’s hardly a franchise on the level of NCIS, this is something that NBC can build around, it seems.


8-9PM “The Mysteries of Laura” (NEW)
This was Revolution’s timeslot, and with that show never taking off, it’s time for new blood.  It’s a Debra Messing vehicle about a homicide detective with a crazy family life.  Nothing about the premise or the production side makes this particularly interesting for me.

9-10PM “Law and Order: SVU” (Returning)
A staple of the NBC schedule remains intact.

10-11PM “Chicago P.D.” (Returning)
I’m assuming that this is part of NBC’s “Chicago” franchise, given the crossovers that have taken place with Chicago Fire.  Neither show is something that is likely to fit into my viewing habits.


8-9PM “The Biggest Loser” (Returning)
NBC is giving up on some of its comedy lineup and spreading out the reality TV joy.  In a way, this is counter-programming at its finest, but it also means that I can continue to ignore NBC on Thursdays.

9-9:30PM “Bad Judge” (NEW)
Last season’s attempt to launch new Thursday night comedies was a disaster.  This new attempt at claiming back some Thursday territory stars Kate Walsh as an unorthodox judge with a wild social life who ends up responsible for a young boy.

9:30-10PM “A to Z” (NEW)
There are shades of How I Met Your Mother in this premise, including the casting of Cristin Milioti as Zelda.  I don’t know that it’s enough to bring me to the table, though.

10-11PM “Parenthood” (Returning)
This show had the dubious distinction of being the last show to have its fate communicated, which kept its fans on pins and needles.  Well, they can rest easy for another season, at least.


8-9PM “Dateline NBC” (Returning)
Because no network would be the same without a “news magazine” on Friday night.

9-10PM “Grimm” (Returning)
Grimm is considered a solid performer for NBC and is highly unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon.  If anything, NBC is using it as a lead-in to prospective new genre fare.  Speaking of…

10-11PM “Constantine” (NEW)
This was one of the more surprising pilot announcements earlier in the year, and with David Goyer in the production mix, it has a lot of potential.  Reactions to the trailer have been fairly positive, though some wonder how the gritty side of the source material will translate to network television.  On the other hand, as a companion to Grimm, this makes a lot of sense.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one!


8-11PM “Sunday Night Football”
A staple of the fall schedule now, for those who enjoy the sport.


Mission Control” (Unscheduled Comedy)
Krysten Ritter is an aerospace engineer in the 1960s.  A lot of people are going to tune in hoping to see Ritter in some hot 60’s outfits, I imagine.

Mr. Robinson” (Unscheduled Comedy)
A musician becomes an unconventional substitute music teacher.  It sounds like there is a reason it’s on the mid-season pile.

One Big Happy” (Unscheduled Comedy)
Ellen DeGeneres is a producer on this one, which stars Elisha Cuthbert in a zany family situation.  I expect this one to get a lot of promotional push.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Unscheduled Comedy)
Ellie Kemper is a young women rescued from a cult who decides to tackle NYC with the help of a gay wannabe Broadway actor in this Tina Fey production.

“A.D.” (Miniseries Event)
Anyone else remember the original version from back in the 1980s?  Well, the folks that brought us The Bible on History do, and they are bringing their style of Christian storytelling to NBC.  I’ll admit a certain degree of fascination with that era of history, so I might check this out.

Allegiance” (Unscheduled Drama)
Basically the NBC version of The Americans.  Might be worth a look.

Aquarius” (Unscheduled Drama)
David Duchovny as a cop in 1967, working cases that ultimately pertain to the cult surrounding Charles Manson.  I’m not sure what to make of this one, to be honest.

Emerald City” (Unscheduled Drama)
This is a strange one.  Basically a strange spin on the Oz property, this actually sounds like someone watched a certain recent episode of Supernatural and thought it was a great idea.

Heroes Reborn” (Unscheduled Miniseries)
The return that nobody was asking for, this brings back the series about ordinary people discovering extraordinary abilities.  Which might have been an exciting prospect, if it wasn’t for the fact that Tim Kring is coming back with it, and he’s the guy who ran Heroes into the ground in the first place!

Odyssey” (Unscheduled Drama)
This is basically a network television version of Homeland meets Traffic meets Wikileaks, which sounds both intriguing and potentially infuriating.


Hannibal was renewed, but isn’t on the schedule; one can assume, though, that it is slated to return in the spring, as usual.  In a situation that demonstrates how the old ways of doing business don’t mesh well with the year-round scheduling model, Crossbones hasn’t even aired yet! 

Alas, Community will not be getting that sixth season, much to the dismay of its devoted fans.  Revolution went nowhere creatively, despite a second season reboot, so it has been cancelled.  So has Believe, which had loads of potential, but couldn’t overcome a formulaic format.  Did anyone even remember that Crisis was on the mid-season schedule?  And Dracula was revealed to be a hot mess almost immediately out of the gate.  Lots of casualties on the genre front.


For genre fans, the only night that begs attention is Friday, but that’s a double-header that might just dominate the night as a whole.  Usually there are lots of genre offerings in the mid-season queue, but this time it boils down to three types of potential fare: Allegiance (for espionage fans), Emerald City (for Oz fans), and Heroes Reborn (for those who want to see if it’s a train wreck).

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Network Upfronts by - 5/13/2014 9:01 AM528 views


5/13/2014 2:46 PM

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sadly I think I only got into community after comedy central was airing the reruns... shame they never got their '6 seasons and a movie!' Or at least the Inspector Spacetime spinoff. :P

Admittedly I'm at least curious about the next Heroes chapter, call me cautiously optimistic... I think most of their problems stemmed from when the writer's strike was happening and they just never recovered.

Hopefully with a semi-clean slate they can fix their mistakes this go around, I guess all we can do is wait and see.

Also interested to see how Constantine turns out... can't be any worse than the Keanu Reeves flick, can it?
5/13/2014 9:55 AM

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While I was crushed that NBC didn't give Community at least pity renewal for a sixth season I think they are on the right track. In one year they went from being a last place broadcast network to first in the 18-49 demo for the 2013-2014 season. Now they won't have the Olympics this year, but building out of The Blacklist and The Voice is smart (as long as those shows keep their momentum) and I think they are going to remain in first, especially with the other networks continuing their declines.
I do have to disagree with you on your assessment of Marry Me. I think it's going to be huge. It's in a great time slot on an uncompetitive night and by all accounts the pilot slayed and after seeing that clip I can see why. Of course I'm very biased in that I find Ken Marino and Casey Wilson amazing...
5/13/2014 11:58 AM

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I'm admittedly a hard sell when it comes to comedies...;)
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