Fall Television Season Network Preview 2006: NBC

NBC’s big coup was to acquire the rights to air football, which it has not had in quite some time. They’ll return to football with the rights to broadcast Sunday Night Football. Add to that a list of distinctive new shows which have received a lot of hype, both on the air with commercial spots and off the air with critical anticipation, and we could have a full return for NBC to the top of the rankings mountain. Returning shows which bring a lot of presence to a strong lineup which has few holes through the week. The Law and Order franchise, along with shows like The Office and Las Vegas will return, along with Scrubs, which is not slated yet in the season but is scheduled to return later in the season. Let’s take a look at their lineups. New shows are in bold italics.


7-8 PM: Football Night in America
8-11 PM: Sunday Night Football

Notes: NBC has never really consistently tried to compete with the other networks on Sunday night, obliging their competitions’ dominance on this night. However, this may change without much effort. The NFL is one of the biggest commodities for a network in television, and this will make for interesting ratings wars. Fox and ABC will have to compete wit football directly for the first time as it will be on a national network instead of being on cable telvision. This, of course, will be different for the west coast because of the time difference in live events, so we’ll have to see how NBC handles that situation. Football will be a big franchise for NBA in the Sunday night battle.


8-9 PM: Deal or No Deal
9-10 PM: Heroes
10-11 PM: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Notes: Howie Mandel and his 26 suitcases will be back as the highly rated Deal or No Deal returns to the network. Currently it is slated for the 8 PM slot on Monday and then again at 9 PM on Thursday, but expect it to play as a fill-in just in case some of the new shows do not pan out or they need the filler. Two new shows will follow, starting with Heroes. This looks rather interesting, as it’s a show looking to capitalize on Hollywood’s recent success with superheroes. It centers around a group of people who discover they have superpowers. Afterwards, Studio 60 is a drama that goes from superheroes to the drama behind a sketch-comedy show. This show is full of names, such as Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet. Not the only “sketch-comedy” new show for NBC (see: 30 Rock.)


8-9 PM: Friday Night Lights
9-10 PM: Law and Order: Criminal Intent
10-11 PM: Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Notes: Considering this is the Tuesday night lineup, it gives me a different impression with a “new” direction. Usually reserved for comedy shows for NBC, they’ve decided to start this new season off with a dramatic Tuesday. Perhaps to compete with the CBS and Fox, who both hold some dramatic shows on Tuesday. Friday Night Lights, which shares the name of the movie with Billy Bob Thornton, is about a small Texas town that centers their lives on High School football. Hey, just like the movie. From there, we go into two NBC staples, Law and Order spinoffs Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit. Two solid shows which are still going strong and has their loyal fanbases.


8-8:30 PM: 20 Good Years
8:30-9 PM: 30 Rock
9-10 PM: The Biggest Loser
10-11 PM: Kidnapped

Notes: NBC is taking another successful reality competition and sandwiching it with some new shows. The first hour has 20 Good Years, a show starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor who are counting down the years in their lives and planning how to effectively spend them. After that, SNL member Tina Fey gives a sitcom a chance in 30 Rock, a show she writes and stars in. She plays a head-writer of a TV variety show (big stretch) having to deal with different players in the show, including the studio president (Alec Baldwin) and the show’s star (Tracy Morgan). The Biggest Loser returns with a new competition, and NBC is banking on being able to attract the same ratings as last season. Finally, at the end of the night, Kidnapped, a show about the kidnapping of the teenage son of a rich New York family and the joint efforts of all to find him.


8-8:30 PM: My Name is Earl
8:30-9 PM: The Office
9-10 PM: Deal or No Deal
10-11 PM: ER/The Black Donnellys

Notes: The star sitcoms on NBC, besides Scrubs, are My Name is Earl and The Office, and they’ll form the heart of NBC’s former bread and butter, Must-See Thursdays. Both shows, starring Jason Lee and Steve Carell, respectively, were both hits and are continuing to have a great impact on NBC”s resurgance as a network. Deal or No Deal takes up the next hour, with NBC looking to cut into both Fox and CBS’ shows The O.C. and C.S.I. ER will return at the beginning of the season, but will be replaced in January 2007 with The Black Donnellys, a story about four Irish brothers who are all getting into the world of organized crime in New York City.


8-9 PM: Crossing Jordan
9-10 PM: Las Vegas
10-11 PM: Law and Order

Notes: The trio of established NBC drama comes to Friday night to team up. Crossing Jordan and Law and Order will be trying out new times, surrounding the hit Las Vegas, which remains in its regular spot on Friday night. Crossing Jordan, with Jill Hennessey, has been an up-and-down show for NBC and this move is to spurn some more interest as a lot of Friday night lineups have regressed in the past few seasons. Same with Law and Order, which has a solid fanbase and could bring in some more viewership on a night where television viewing is down.


8-9 PM: Dateline Saturday
9-11 PM: Drama Series Encore

Notes: Another example of a very weak Saturday night. Dateline’s main night now becomes Saturday, while they will close the night with reruns of some of their drama episodes that originally air during the week.

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