Nets could hit primetime paydirt with a few key moves
Network execs are hip-deep this week in scheduling decisions as the broadcasters prepare for next week’s 2012-13 season sked unveilings in Gotham.Here’s a look at the top 10 opportunities for improvement in the primetime landscape. 1. NBC should move “The Voice” to Tuesday. Most expect the net to bring back the music talent show in the fall, and there’s no question that it would be better suited for Tuesday, where it originally launched and where it won’t have to butt heads with the higher-rated night of “Dancing With the Stars.” This move would also serve three other purposes: NBC could launch a drama behind “Voice” Tuesday at 10 (a winnable hour), slide the results show in an hour that has been net’s black hole (Wednesday at 9), and then air another drama (or bring back “Smash”) behind it Wednesday at 10. 2. ABC should move “Castle” to Thursday at 8. This has been a troubling hour for ABC, so why not try this lightish crime drama with a loyal following in one of the few weeknight hours without a crime/mystery show? It could also give “Grey’s Anatomy” more support and allow the net to focus on improving at 10 and perhaps finding the heir apparent to the medical vet. Though “Dancing” came tumbling down in the ratings this spring, it could rebound with a better cast and without “Voice” competish, so as a lead-in it would still be ample enough to support a promising new Monday drama, perhaps “Nashville.” 3. Just in time for the run-up to the election, NBC should bring back “SNL Weekend Update” specials and rebroadcast them on Saturday as part of a block of comedy repeats. It’s never made sense that NBC has failed to better capitalize on the latenight institution that is consistently Saturday’s highest-rated series. If you’re going to do a 3.2 rating at 11:30, why settle for a 0.7 with a drama repeat at 10:30? 4. NBC should move “The Office” from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and follow it with three new shows. Peacock needs to roll the dice on Thursday, and who knows, maybe one of its newbies will click like ABC’s “Modern Family” did when it was one of four new comedies the net tried on Wednesday in the fall a few years ago. 5. CBS should air expanded or truncated episodes of “60 Minutes” and/or “The Amazing Race” in the fall. Doing this would make sure that “Good Wife” and the 10 p.m. drama that follows it, perhaps “The Mentalist” moving over from Thursday, start on time. Until the net fixes its problem of starting its post-“60 Minutes” shows late so many weeks, it will really struggle to have success with dramas on the night. 6. ABC should move “Last Man Standing” and a new comedy with male and/or family appeal to Friday after “Shark Tank.” It might be tough to sell Tim Allen on a Friday slot, but “Standing” is not “Home Improvement” and Friday is a great opportunity to reach the available audience in an hour that would be appear to be wide open. It’s also a good way for ABC, which has quietly done very well (and drawn some men, to boot) with “Shark” on Friday, to hold that audience for another hour. 7. NBC should save “The Biggest Loser” for midseason and pair it with “The Apprentice,” with each airing 90-minute episodes from 8 to 11. While the net will probably want to target scripted series for its post-football Sundays down the road, these reality vets are the best solution while the Peacock works on other nights. Both shows saw declines this season and could benefit from airing shorter episodes and also being paired together. 8. Fox should pull back on either the Wednesday or Thursday edition of “The X Factor” to try out another half-hour. With limited sked space and not a lot of hit comedies or dramas, can the net continue to turn over entire nights to singing contests next season? Come to think of it, every two-hour reality show and hourlong results show should be thinking about cutting back as they all trended downward this season. 9. If CBS expands to four comedies on Thursday, it should open the night with “Mike & Molly.” It’s the oldest-skewing of the CBS laffers and one that doesn’t mesh as well with the others. It would do a solid-enough number at 8 and allow for just about anything to follow it at 8:30 and precede “The Big Bang Theory,” which would shift to 9. Of course, if CBS stick s with two comedies (and “Big Bang” leading off), “Mike” might also be a good choice to lead off Friday. This would give “Person of Interest” a chance to grow in its 9 p.m. Thursday slot and also serve as the lead-in to one of the net’s new crime dramas at 10. 10. And finally, the most out-there idea: ABC should renew “GCB” but with half-hour episodes. The show’s comedy bits are funny but the storylines need work and don’t support or require the hour format. How about pairing it with Reba McEntire’s new “Malibu Country”? Or, maybe in between “Dancing” seasons on Tuesday, ABC could go with a 9 o’clock hour combo of “GCB” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.” The Parents Television Council would certainly do their part to market that hour.