The series pickups and cancellations mostly behind them, the networks are putting the finishing touches on their fall schedules this weekend in New York.
It’s harder than ever to predict lineups — the schedule strategies for shorter-episode series are especially difficult — but it’s always fun to play armchair programmer. One added luxury of programming all four networks is that you can avoid timeslots where there’s an hour with too much of the same programming (like this season with comedies on three networks Tuesday at 9).
Having not seen one minute of any of these shows, here’s one person’s opinion on the schedules for NBC and Fox, who are first up in announcing their lineups. I’ve also included the CW, which has largely locked in its shows for next season. (An ABC-CBS “Schedule Spitball” will follow this weekend.)
UPDATE: Apparently, at least three of the NBC comedies are for midseason, so that would lend credence to the idea that the network is planning a midseason/post-Super Bowl sitcom splurge. They may still do four comedies on Thursday in the fall, but that’s looking a little less likely now.
The surprise cancellation of “Growing Up Fisher” and the inevitable axing of “Community” made it sound like NBC could be scaling back the number of comedies on its fall sked. But then late Friday, the net announced pickups of three other half-hours (“One Big Happy” for midseason, Krysten Ritter starrer “Mission Control” and Kate Walsh-fronted “Bad Judge”), so apparently that’s not the plan.
NBC has the Super Bowl this coming season, so it figures to save a couple of high-profile shows for midseason — and perhaps this is where the net might make a bigger comedy push.
Or could NBC be going all in with new comedies on Thursday for a second straight year — this time with a female-focused quartet? This would make some sense because CBS will be airing football and NBC may see this as a chance to establish comedies before “The Big Bang Theory” returns at the end of October, but I’ll go with three newcomers.
“A to Z” and “Bad Judge” are the new NBC shows that look best to me, so I’m pairing them with “Mission Control” and vet “Parks and Recreation.” And to call more attention to what is currently the net’s weakest night, how about “The Blacklist” on Thursday at 10?
Tuesday could see the return of “About a Boy” along with romantic newcomer “Marry Me.”
Katherine Heigl’s “State of Affairs” could inherit the “Blacklist” spot on Monday, and “Mysteries of Laura” looks like a good, lighter crime show companion to “Law & Order: SVU” leading off Wednesday.
DC Comics-themed “Constantine” sounds right for Friday at 10 behind “Grimm.” (How about a Halloween premiere date?) “Hannibal” would be a good back-up show to cap the night.
“Parenthood” would be a good utility player to have coming off the bench Wednesday at 8 (if “Mysteries of Laura” doesn’t work) or Thursday at 8 (if the comedy block needs to collapse to one hour).
8 The Voice
10 State of Affairs
8 The Voice
9 Marry Me
9:30 About a Boy
10 Chicago Fire
8 The Mysteries of Laura
9 Law & Order: SVU
10 Chicago P.D.
8 Mission Control
8:30 A to Z
9 Bad Judge
9:30 Parks and Recreation
10 The Blacklist
8 Dateline Mystery
10 SNL Prime
7:30-11 Sunday Night Football
UPDATE: I’ve been told that two of the Fox comedies I had on the fall schedule (“Last Man On Earth” and “Weird Loners”) are midseason shows, so that would seemingly leave only four live-action comedies for the fall: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project” and the new “Mulaney.” Perhaps these four will form a Tuesday lineup.
The net is coming off a (mostly) rough season, and its fall will be even more challenging since it needs to fill the three hours occupied a year ago by “The X Factor.”
“Gotham” is one of the shows I’m most looking forward to this fall, and “Red Band Society” and “Empire” are intriguing as well. In the end, I went with shows that paired better, and am saving “Empire” and “Hieroglyph” for midseason berths that could take advantage of promotion during the NFL Playoffs.
“Gotham” into “Sleepy Hollow” teamed on Monday would give Fox a night that could generate plenty of buzz — and potentially be the net’s highest-rated of the week.
Fox’s Tuesday comedy block was a disaster this season, and moving its comedy night to Wednesday or splitting up its laffers over Tuesday and Wednesday is a possibility, but in the end this seemed like too much change in a year when the net will have a lot of new shows.
“Last Man On Earth” (“Last Man Standing” was already taken) and “Weird Loners” could kick off Tuesday, followed by the returning duo of “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project.”
It’s been a while since Fox made a serious attempt at live-action comedy on Sunday, but the exit of “American Dad” (it’s headed for TBS) opens up a slot on the night and Fox may opt for an hour of live-action comedy at 9. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and the new “Mulaney” is one possibility — even if the pairing is less than ideal. (The on-brand “Surviving Jack” would have been a great choice here with “Brooklyn,” but it was canceled after getting a short run this spring.)
“Glee” and “Red Band Society” would seem to mesh well on Wednesday, and crime dramas “Bones” and “Backstrom” (starring Rainn Wilson as a detective) make sense together on Thursday.
Gordon Ramsay’s “Junior MasterChef” and “Hell’s Kitchen” give Fox a good reality block on Friday while it looks for new scripted hits earlier in the week.
9 Sleepy Hollow
8 Last Man on Earth
8:30 Weird Loners
9 New Girl
9:30 The Mindy Project
8 Red Band Society
8 MasterChef Junior
9 Hell’s Kitchen
8 Baseball/college football
7:30 The OT/Bob’s Burgers
8 The Simpsons
8:30 Family Guy
9 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The net added a couple of solid pieces this season in “The Originals” and “Reign” and will look to build on that with four new ones this season, including three in the fall that could roll out like this:
8 Jane the Virgin
8 The Originals
9 The Flash
8 The Vampire Diaries
8 Beauty and the Beast
9 Hart of Dixie