Fall TV Preview 2012: NBC
NBC’s NFL package only covers one night a week, and the Olympics are a fading memory.
NBC believes it can turn the lights on with “Revolution.”Story, from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, revolves around a post-apocalyptic society where electricity has mysteriously been turned off. Those who remain live under primitive conditions and are under constant terror from enemy militias.
Now it’s up to the Peacock programmers to fill the other six days as the network is in need to reverse itself from a lengthy ratings slide.
A huge priority is the new Tuesday 9-10 p.m. comedy block of “Go On” and “The New Normal.” NBC is hoping some “Friends” magic runs off on “Go On,” which stars Central Perk alum Matthew Perry. And with “The New Normal,” NBC is betting that Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”) can deliver the large audiences that have flocked to his hourlong offerings.
While the net is keeping its two-hour Thursday comedy block intact, it’s shifting a ratings-troubled “Whitney” to Friday with highly praised but little seen “Community.”
“We doubled down on comedy,” says Jennifer Salke, who was named president of NBC Entertainment last year after moving over from 20th Century Fox.
In fact, only two new dramas are on the docket for fall: “Revolution” and “Chicago Fire,” from “Law & Order” vet Dick Wolf.
Another big move is bringing the “The Voice” aboard in fall, and the intial results look promising. The musical competition series performed well in midseason and is now defeating “The X Factor. Against ABC, it will face new contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” as well as a formidable ratings threat from CBS’ drama “NCIS.”
Salke promises some creative changes on “The Voice” and says the show “can handle” the autumn start.
“We bantered it around, but we have a shining star and need all the help we can get,” she says.
After receiving some heat for keeping low-rated “Rock Center With Brian Williams” on in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot — a night advertisers crave, and one that NBC once owned — Salke says there are no easy answers.
“The scheduling decisions are really challenging,” she says. “Trying to move the dial at NBC is a tough job, but we’ve all come together with a lot of optimism.”
Similar to the futuristic “Hunger Games,” “Revolution” is, at its heart, a family drama, says Kripke.
“It’s intensely character driven, is very complicated and has fascinating characters who are all just struggling to come together against incredible adversity,” Kripke says. “For me, it’s the ‘what if’ that is interesting, but characters are everything.”
Playing a rogue general is “Breaking Bad” vet Giancarlo Esposito, and while he doesn’t seem to possess any Gus Fring-like stillness, the two characters aren’t exactly the definition of Mr. Nice Guy.
“It’s delicious to play this bad guy,” he says. “With every role I try to create someone new. I feel like there’s never any black and white.”
A veterinarian played by Justin Kirk (“Weeds”) makes a dogged attempt to get his personal and professional life in order, while fully admitting that he is more comfortable around a monkey than an assertive woman. NBC hopes the sitcom can kick off Wednesdays in the win column.
“Law & Order” vet Dick Wolf moves from the precinct to the fire station with an ensembler that mixes flames, with, well, flames. There’s a hot romance between two colleagues and plenty of sage advice from Eammon Walker as the chief.
With Matthew Perry as its lead, on a network where he burst into the spotlight, the show has plenty of star power. The pilot’s highlight was the chemistry between Perry and Laura Benanti, a creative element on which exec producer Scott Silveri should continue to focus.
Up against ABC’s freshman comedy “The Neighbors” at 8:30 p.m.. Wednesday, let’s see what viewers think is more unusual: Dads forsaking the office and taking on full-time parenting duties while Mom is working, or aliens moving in next door?
Ryan Murphy’s take on unconventional parenting should be a lot less newsworthy following the birth of “Modern Family.” Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha make for an amusing couple, but its surrogate mom Georgia King who brings the show its charm.