'Community,' 'Prime Suspect' take a breather

NBC unveiled an aggressive reshuffling of its primetime programming for the midseason Monday, displacing three series from its Thursday lineup.

CBS unveiled its midseason moves as well, making far fewer changes befitting a primetime schedule of greater stability than the Peacock’s.

“Community” and “Prime Suspect” are being removed to make room for the return of “30 Rock” at 8 p.m. and the introduction of “The Firm” at 10 p.m. “Whitney” is trading nights with another NBC rookie comedy, “Up All Night,” which comes in at 9:30 p.m.

“Whitney” will slide into the anchor position on Wednesday as a lead-in for another new series, “Are You There, Chelsea?”

CBS is giving its Rob Schneider laffer “Rob” the plum post-“Big Bang Theory” slot on Thursdays starting in January.

“Rob” stars Schneider as a man who marries into a tight-knit Mexican-American family. It will bow in the Thursday 8:30 p.m. berth on Jan. 12, displacing “Rules of Engagement,” which was hauled up earlier this seaon to fill the void left by the quick demise of frosh comedy “How to Be a Gentleman.”

The Eye has also set Jan. 15 as the third-season preem of “Undercover Boss,” which will move into the Sunday 8 p.m. slot now occupied by “The Amazing Race.”

The Eye said “Rules” and “Race” will be back on the sked later in the season.

NBC’s “Community,” which is expected to return to the schedule at some point later in the season, has struggled in the ratings. The third-year series is averaging a 1.9 rating/6 share in the 18-49 demographic and totaling just 4.1 million total viewers.

A Thursday-night overhaul seemed inevitable given “Rock” was likely to reclaim its original night, which it sat out the first half of the season in order to give star Tina Fey time off to have her second child. But now the Emmy-winning comedy will find itself with the tougher task of leading off the night, which will keep “Parks & Recreation” and “The Office” at 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Moving “Night,” which has performed respectably on Wednesdays, is a vote of confidence given Thursday provides a more protected time slot that should help its prospects for earning a second season.

More uncertain is the fate of “Suspect,” which the network has not canceled despite a rough ratings ride on Thursday that hasn’t gotten any better despite additional airings on other nights to help market the Maria Bello-fronted detective drama. “Suspect” is averaging a 1.6/4 and 5.8 million on Thursdays.

Joining “Whitney” and “Chelsea” on Wednesday will be “Rock Center,” the new Brian Williams-led newsmagazine that has struggled at 10 p.m. on Mondays in its first two outings. “Whitney” and “Chelsea” bow Jan. 11 while “Center” moves Feb. 8.

“Center” will be replaced by the highly anticipated drama “Smash,” which will get unscripted powerhouse “The Voice” as a lead-in when it premieres 8 p.m. the day after the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. These shows may represent NBC’s best hopes for a midseason rejuvenation on a night that was not kind to the network in the fall given the quick cancellation of “The Playboy Club” at 10 p.m.

“Firm,” which reboots the 1993 film with Josh Lucas in the starring role originated by Tom Cruise, is another key piece of NBC midseason. It will get a two-hour premiere on Jan. 8, where it should get a nice promotional platform the previous night from NBC’s final NFL telecast of the season, before settling into its regular slot on Jan. 12.

“Firm” is from eOne in association with Sony Pictures Networks and Paramount Pictures.

Another series on the move is “Harry’s Law,” which switches from Wednesdays at 9 p.m. to Sundays at 8 p.m. on Mar. 4, when it will serve as a lead-in for a two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice,” which bows Feb. 12.

Another new entry will be unscripted series “Fashion Star,” which moves into the Tuesday 10 p.m. slot on March 13th, a few weeks after drama “Parenthood” will have ended its season. The premiere will run two hours and begin at 9 p.m.

On Friday, returning unscripted series “Who Do You Think You Are?” will spell “Chuck” one week after its series finale on January 27th.

AWOL from the schedule are “Awake” and “Bent,” two NBC series that were supposed to be introduced in the midseason but have yet to be scheduled. CBS also had a series expected to join the midseason schedule but has yet to find a time slot, drama “The 2-2.”

All told, NBC is making a lot of moves in order to jumpstart a schedule that has only dipped deeper into fourth place since the 2011-12 season began. Midseason will bring four new season and four time-slot shifts, not to mention new 8 p.m. shows on every night with original programming save Tuesday.

NBC’s “Chelsea” and CBS’s “Rob” will get a few shots at finding an audience before facing some daunting competition: Fox’s “American Idol” will be back in their time slots after its Jan. 22 premiere.

NBC has also picked up drama pilot “Beautiful People” from Universal Television and ABC Studios.

Michael McDonald will exec produce the project, an ensemble “what if” hour set in the not-so-distant future in which families of mechanical humans exist to serve the flesh-and-blood people of the world, until the androids start to have goals of their own. The show’s emphasis is said to be on drama rather than technology.

Cynthia Littleton and Jon Weisman contributed to this story.

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