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Analysis: NBC Attacks Fall Aggressively, Smartly

There are lots of new shows and timeslot changes as the net searches for a hit scripted series

NBC is shuffling the deck pretty aggressively in the fall, adding six new shows and changing timeslots for four of six returning scripted series.

The best thing about this schedule is that there really aren’t any dead spots on it, with the possible exception of “Parks and Recreation.” The Peacock could have slotted shows like “Community,” “Go On,” “Hannibal” or “Rock Center,” but instead is clearly looking ahead and putting its best foot forward.

One apparent goal for NBC is strengthening the 10 p.m. hour, and it’s being aggressive here too — going with first or second-year shows on four of five weeknights, with two (newbie “The Blacklist” on Monday and soph “Chicago Fire” on Tuesday) getting “The Voice” as a lead-in. “Ironside” on Wednesday is slotted well behind “SVU,” with the net’s only two true crime dramas airing back to back.

Stronger showings at 10 p.m. should only help the net’s latenight efforts this coming season, which will include a “Tonight Show” hand-off from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon after the Winter Olympics.

Revolution” (pictured above) is asked to fly on its own Wednesday at 8, but that’s not such a bad thing. Being the only drama in the hour is one of the factors that helped ABC’s “Lost” break through in this timeslot years ago, and the post-apocalyptic hour figures to be the only Big Four drama in its slot this fall.

The Thursday comedy lineup of “Parks” followed by three rookies is certainly risky, but it shows that NBC isn’t backing down from wanting to re-establish itself as a comedy destination on the night even with “The Office” gone. And with Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox, the Peacock will certainly have some familiar comedic faces on Thursday. If there’s a surprise it’s that “Sean Saves the World” is at 9 and “The Michael J. Fox Show” is at 9:30; this could be in anticipation of  CBS possibly slotting “The Big Bang Theory” in the half-hour, but it’s also a way to perhaps take some of the spotlight off the show, which should be among the most-talked about new programs heading into fall. And shifting “Parenthood” over to Thursday to cap the night is a smart move, because it adds a known commodity to a mostly new night and will certainly improve the hour for NBC.

The Friday scheduling of “Dracula” after “Grimm” makes sense, providing a clear alternative to older-skewing “Blue Bloods” and “20/20.” And as a thematically compatible block of programming, NBC might see a bit more same-night viewing on Fridays now. The news division or NBC’s local stations may have fought to keep “Dateline” at 10 p.m., but it never made sense for it or “Rock Center” to butt heads with ABC’s long-established “20/20.”

Not on the schedule, either for fall or midseason, are comedy “Community” or drama “Hannibal.” The former was given a late 13-episode order while the latter awaits to hear if it’s been picked up for a second season.

Despite the aggressive tact this fall, NBC still has four dramas and two new comedies available at midseason as it looks to take numerous swings at finding that elusive scripted hit.

The NBC lineup doesn’t figure to significantly change anything on the schedules of its competitors, though knowing what hour “The Voice” will be airing on Tuesday could matter to ABC and Fox as they try to best position their shows on the night. One of the dark-horse possibilities ABC may have been considering, given its weak showing on Tuesday this season, was a move of hot Thursday drama “Scandal” to the 9 p.m. hour on Tuesday after “Dancing With the Stars,” enabling it to both improve the night and give a new drama a push at 10. ABC may just opt to keep its “Dancing” results show at 9, where it would now go up against “The Voice.”

Fox, on the other hand, has to be pleased that its 8 p.m. Tuesday programming (probably comedies) won’t have to deal with “The Voice” in the fourth quarter.

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