Fall Schedules Could Be Comedy-Light as Nets Wait For Midseason Opportunities

Fall’s primetime schedules may wind up being light on laughs as networks opt to wait out the crunch for the tricky business of launching new comedies.

NBC’s fall campaign features only two scripted comedies, both on Friday. The Peacock is sticking with its plan to remake Thursday as a drama night after years of uphill battles in launching new half-hours on what used to be Must-See TV turf. NBC has ordered five new comedies but only one of them will be on in the fall.

“Undateable,” which is taking the promotion-friendly step of airing all live episodes in its third season, and newbie “People Are Talking” will likely be the first comedies to air Fridays on NBC since the fall of 1991. That year, the Peacock parked the final season of “Dear John” in the Friday 9 p.m. hour in tandem with the short-lived “Flesh ‘N Blood.”

CBS will sit out Thursday comedies for the first quarter of the season to make room for “Thursday Night Football.” So far, the Eye has ordered only two laffers: Jane Lynch starrer “Angel From Hell” and the single-camera ensembler “Life in Pieces.”

ABC has ordered four new comedies for the 2015-16 season. But it has the high-class problem of having strong returning series for its Wednesday block: “The Middle,” “The Goldbergs,” “Modern Family” and “Black-ish.” Like “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat” was a welcome success story for ABC this season, so it could be a contender for a rotation on Wednesday sooner rather than later.

Depending on what it decides to do on Tuesday, ABC could join NBC in fielding most of its new comedies in midseason slots. After all, the Alphabet has six new drama series that need homes, too.

Fox’s plans for its three new live-action comedy orders — John Stamos’ “Grandfathered,” Rob Lowe’s “The Grinder” and coming-of-ager “The Guide to Surviving Life”  — are also a big question mark as of yet.

The network seems likely to want to build on the momentum of “Empire” and “Gotham” sooner rather than later, which would suggest a drama-heavy slate. Oddball comedy “Last Man on Earth” has also been a sleeper hit in midseason, too, but it might be a better candidate to wait out the fall rush.

Meanwhile, Fox’s “New Girl” is facing the prospect of producing four episodes without star Zooey Deschanel, who is awaiting her own momentous premiere this summer: her first child.

(Pictured: NBC’s “People Are Talking”)

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