'The Voice,' 'Sunday Night Football' serve as anchors
A return to glory on Thursday appears not to be in the gameplan for NBC, which is waving the white flag on the night this fall, choosing instead to focus on its early-week lineup. The rebuilding network, which used top-rated “Sunday Night Football” and second-half boosts from the Super Bowl and “The Voice” to earn a tie with ABC for third in adults 18-49 last season, will turn to the music competish to anchor both Monday and Tuesday. There had been some thought that “The Voice” would remain an annual event like Fox’s “American Idol,” but it’s hard to blame NBC for trying to strike often while the iron is hot — and it’s the rare Peacock commodity that can provide a potent lead-in for new shows. “The Voice” will air prior to drama “Revolution” on Monday and comedy “Go On” on Tuesday. These are just two of six dramas and comedies bowing on NBC this fall — all on the first three nights of the week. The net’s top priority, of course, is finding a sustained hit series of the scripted variety, something it hasn’t had since “The Office,” whose ninth and final season kicks off this month. Some curious scheduling moves by the Peacock certainly won’t help its cause this fall, but the recent hiring of former ABC scheduling topper Jeff Bader should help NBC going forward. “The Voice” again will go up against ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in a battle of femme-friendly Monday reality shows that will only hurt the ratings for both; sure, the NBC show is fresher and stronger among young adults, but don’t count out “Stars” with its all-star edition. Post-apocalyptic drama “Revolution” has been put in an awfully tough slot opposite hit 10 p.m. dramas on ABC and CBS as well as ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” whose improved slate of games will cut into male viewership elsewhere. The net did OK behind “The Voice” earlier this year with drama “Smash,” but it’s hoping for better numbers this fall. (If NBC wanted “Voice” to lead into “Revolution,” it might have tried Tuesday at 10, where no show has emerged a leader.) First-responder drama “Chicago Fire” faces long odds Wednesday at 10 against CBS’ “CSI” and ABC’s good-looking newcomer “Nashville.” “Fire” gets the net’s best drama lead-in (the 14th year of “Law & Order: SVU”), though that’s not saying much among this group. NBC is pairing new laffers on Tuesday (“Go On” and “The New Normal”) and Wednesday (“Animal Practice” and “Guys With Kids”). This might sound like a suicide mission, but it’s the only option NBC had, since its current, niche comedies aren’t strong enough to lead into anything new. “New Normal” is the most promising new comedy and figures to land elsewhere (Thursday?) if it doesn’t work in a congested 9 o’clock Tuesday hour opposite half-hours on both ABC and Fox. Wednesday’s “Animal” is somewhat likable, but the one-note “Guys” is a contender for first cancellation of the season. Thursday will see returning half-hours “30 Rock,” “Up All Night,” “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” leading into newsmag “Rock Center.” Not exactly a murderer’s row. NBC ran a distant fourth on both Wednesday and Thursday last season, and that won’t change this fall. It missed another opportunity for an open drama hour on Friday at 10, opposite old-skewing newsmag “20/20” on ABC and the even creakier CBS drama “Blue Bloods.” Instead, the Peacock will follow its hottest, youngest drama (9 p.m.’s “Grimm”) with newsmag “Dateline.” Despite its skedding issues and weak series slate, NBC will again be saved by “The Voice” and by “SNF,” which emerged as the No. 1 primetime series for the first time last season. But if “The Voice” can’t spawn a scripted hit, this will be a lost fall for the Peacock.