NBC Picks Up New Shows; Fate of Existing Sitcoms Coming Soon
UPDATE Wed. 2PM: Wednesday was Dick Wolf day at the NBC upfronts. The network renewed Law & Order SVU for a fourteenth season, and picked up his new show Chicago Fire about, well, Chicago fire... fighters (so basically Rescue Me but less depressing). Deadline also notes that he has signed a new overall deal with NBC to stay with the network. Among other shows he's developing is a military-themed competition reality series with Mark Burnett. Personally, we hope this means more Law & Order - Community crossovers.
It should be a given that NBC isn't exactly the most successful network out there at the moment. Their inability to create ratings hits in the drama and comedy departments (despite many well-received ideas over the last few years) has led to what could only be described as the network's demise.
And that has left a lot of fans of a lot of their shows a little irked. It's caused the network to drag "The Office" and "30 Rock" through the mud while they look for new comedy staples, it's put "Community" and even "Parks & Recreation" in an endless renewal limbo. Every time you get invested in one of their "high concept" dramas, it almost guarantees that show's cancellation, with "Awake" being the latest victim.
Well, whether you're a Community fan, an Office fan, or just want to see something new and different from the network, you're probably going to get some closure in the coming weeks, as it's "upfront" week for the big television networks, and that means pick ups for new shows, renewals for existing shows, and tentative fall schedules.
The gist: NBC will be going through a lot of changes and experimenting with a lot of new shows this fall, and they plan to throw them in the fire early by debuting much of their schedule in August, to benefit from the increased viewership and promotion they'll get during the Olympics starting July 27th. This makes sense all around. But what does that mean for your favorite shows?
Well, according to Deanline, 30 Rock will be the first show to finalize a renewal for a seventh and final season. The season will be a shortened one, with only 13-14 episodes, but that could possibly be a good thing, as 30 Rock tends to lose steam when they reach that point in the season.
Up All Night also looks likely for renewal, but Deadline notes that its executive producer Jon Pollack will be moving to one of the new sitcoms, Matthew Perry's "Go On". Still, the show took in decent ratings during its first season, even after a timeslot move, and the peacock can bank on three major stars in Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate.
Whitney will likely get the axe and join "Are You There, Chelsea" in the multi-camera sitcom graveyard, especially with news that Whitney Cummings will be getting her own talk show on E!. It makes sense, with the network picking up five single-camera shows (the ones with no audience/laugh track) and its so-so ratings, but I feel like the show got a worse rap than it should of when it got blamed for Community's hiatus.
Speaking of Community, Deadline notes that the chances for its renewal are 50-50, but I'm confident, especially with word that the network will air the three final episodes of its third season in one night, in the middle of May sweeps. A Parks & Rec renewal is said to be likely as well, but both shows will probably join 30 Rock in receiving short season orders, with the explanation that this allows NBC to save some money and pepper in more new shows to replace whatever it ends up canceling or wrapping up.
The one mystery seems to be the status of The Office. It's been well-documented that several cast members and producers are planning on leaving, and that no one has a contract for a ninth season. If anything, it will also get a short season to wrap things up before Dwight leaves for his spinoff.
As for new shows, the network has picked up seven as of this writing: five single-camera comedies, two dramas.
Among the sitcoms, Animal Practice has been described as "House" in a veterinary clinic, where the main character (Justin Kirk) loves animals but hates people. This sounds incredibly stupid, but Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is in it, so that instantly forces me to give it a chance.
Next, NBC jumps back on the political show bandwagon, which is interesting after the success of HBO's "Veep", with 1600 Penn (... 30 Rock... get it?), a family comedy set in the White House. This also sounds stupid, but Josh Gad (the fat kid in a suit in every comedy) created it and stars, so I might also give it chance. The show also stars Bill Pullman (who played the President once before in Independence Day) and Jenna Elfman.
The New Normal is the latest show from Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, about a gay couple Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha from The Hangover) and the woman (Georgia King) who plans to be their surrogate.
Save Me is a show starring Anne Heche that's basically Darma & Greg with religious undertones.
As I mentioned earlier, the network had already picked up Go On, the new Matthew Perry series about a sportscaster who goes through some sort of loss and like every Matthew Perry role since Friends, generally hates everyone around him.
Finally, Revolution is the sole drama added to the list, and arguably the most interesting of the bunch. From J.J. Abrams (oh boy), the show is described as a "high-octane action drama" about a group of characters surviving and looking to reunite with loved ones in a world where energy sources have ceased to exist. Billy Burke stars, alongside Giancarlo Esposito (Gus from Breaking Bad!) as a "military man" with a "genteel southern manner", which sounds amazing. The pilot will be directed by Jon Favreau. Honestly, this will probably be ridiculous, and Abrams plus mystery in the tagline is usually a bad sign, but it's different and interesting at a glance.
NBC had already picked up Hannibal to series, a TV adaptation of the Red Dragon novel and of course the movie franchise, from Bryan Fuller. A few other shows are expected to make the final schedule, including "Notorious" and "Chicago Fire".
The only "staples" of NBC's drama line-up at this point are Law & Order SVU and soon to be sophomore series' Grimm and Smash, so they'll be a welcome additions.
There's definitely more to come from the network, and we should have a final say on the fate of most of your favorite NBC sitcom by the end of the week.