Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The NBC schedule announcement, take 1

The full and elaborate press release for the NBC schedule is up at their website, and I need to focus on hitting the deadline for tomorrow's print edition. As soon as that's done, I'll post a more elaborate analysis of the schedule. For right now, a few highlights for you all to discuss:
  • "Friday Night Lights" lives, as part of the much-discussed partnership with DirectTV. DirectTV will get to air new episodes starting in the fall, while NBC won't be showing them until early '09. A reporter tried to bring up the problems that happened when HBO was airing "Wire" episodes even a week early for some viewers and not others; Ben Silverman didn't have much of a response, other than saying he hoped people would watch the show wherever.
  • "Heroes: Origins" is dead because they felt they were overburdening the "Heroes" producers asking them to produce 30+ episodes in a single season, but "The Office" will not only do a bunch of hour-long episodes again (which is like producing two episodes), but the creative team has been tasked to create a spin-off to premiere after the Super Bowl. The only math that makes sense on that is Tim Kring = hacky * Greg Daniels = talented. No details on the spin-off, though Silverman said some characters from the original might appear. The warehouse, maybe? Or a show about Karen's branch?
  • They're done with "Scrubs" after the five episodes they have left to air; when I asked if he was fine with ABC picking up the show for a final season, Silverman said "If they can go 1 for 21, good for them."
  • "ER" gets a renewal for one final season, and they say Noah Wyle will make some kind of return appearance.
Gotta go write. Back later.

UPDATE: So I filed my story, which you can read over at NJ.com, and the more I think about it, the less I have to say about this schedule (or schedules). I'm dubious that things will air as announced, but they renewed virtually everything but "Scrubs" (which will live on elsewhere) and maybe "Criminal Intent" (Silverman said that's USA's call at this point), and there are actually fewer changes from quarter to quarter than I was expecting. I think the "Friday Night Lights" thing is going to be very annoying for non-DirecTV people like myself -- I expect to see a big boom in BitTorrent downloads for that show in the fall -- but I guess it's better than the show not coming back at all. (Assuming, of course, that season three will resemble the final few episodes of season two rather than the great majority of season two.)

Beyond that? Meh. I'm going to be out and about tonight -- don't expect an "Idol" elimination post until morning -- but ask any questions you have, and I'll answer them in the comments when I can.

45 comments:

Mac said...

Maybe they're waiting to see if that thing on Fox gets cancelled before they can get Rashida Jones on board?

Note "Anthony Head" on "Merlin".

Andrew said...

Well, I'm always looking forward to a new Tom Fontana series, even when it turns out shitty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your quick coverage, Alan.

What does "1 for 21" mean? I completely didn't understand his response about ABC picking up Scrubs.

Carl said...

1 for 21 -- one hour out of 21 primetime hours in a week? Isn't Scrubs 30 minutes long?

Amy said...

yeah i don't get the 1 in 21 thing either.....is that tv executive slang?

the press release is depressing...a knight rider show??

Elwood said...

TV Exec-speak or not, it was a dick statement.

I'm glad that FNL is coming back, but as a Comcast Hostage, I'll have to wait till 2009. Unless they plan to stream the eps somewhere first.

jcpbmg said...

oh Ben, always such a way with words. And I'm sure Revielle's stake (even if he's "seperated" from the company) in Office has nothing to do with it getting the post-super bowl spot.

As much as I love the show, I truly think it's hit a critical mass (in term of saturation and awareness) as of this point

Marsha said...

I don't get 1 for 21 either.

Dave S said...

1 for 21 --- 7 days, 3 hours a night. That's all I can think of. I guess networks "win an hour" even if they're doing it with half hour episodes.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Given the number of references Silverman made to doubling down, my guess it's some kind of blackjack terminology with which I'm unfamiliar.

chris w said...

A spin off of The Office? I just want them to focus on the flagship as this season wasn't doing anything amazing.

Eric Fingerhut said...

Could "1 for 21" be some kind of insult about ABC's poor record with sitcoms? Whatever the case, as a fan of Scrubs, I think it would be much better if the show wrapped up this year. There's no need for another season.

Can't believe NBC actually put out a schedule for Summer 2009? Are they serious? And why does Ben Silverman's schedule remind me so much of Jeff Zucker-era NBC? We've got SNL in primetime again, remakes of British sitcoms (Kath and Kim=Coupling), spinoffs of successful shows (Joey=Office spinoff, and at least with Joey you were basing it around a popular character already)...It's kind of eerie, actually, considering most of those moves were big failures.

Guy said...

I read 1 for 21 as 1 season for 21 episodes.

Nicole said...

How creative. Let's take a good show and overburden the writers and create a spin off to completely kill any goodwill this show may have.

I love the Office, but the hour longs didn't work as well, and a sequel just screams Law & Order and CSI-itis.

And we wonder why original stuff on HBO and F/X does so well.....

Bobman said...

Uggggh that FNL / DirecTV deal sounds HORRID. NBC somehow found a way to make themselves WORSE at revealing spoilers - show the show months earlier to a select group of people.

Such an awful idea.

Matt said...

Of course, for both L&O and CSI, the first spinoffs (SVU and Miami) are now (arguably) more powerful/significant than their parents. (Miami is lower rated than original CSI, but demolishes everything in its timeslot, while CSI has to fight it out with Grey's.)

Ben G said...

to Eric Fingerhut,

you make some excellent points that I never thought of, but I have some hope in Kath & Kim because of Paul Feig's involvement. I know it's only directing the pilot, but the fact that he's an exec producer is great. Maybe he'll write an episode eventually?

Anonymous said...

Well, it sounds like NBC has thought a lot of new and exciting ways to get their asses handed to them.

Seriously, most of these shows sound awful. And The Office spin-off (assuming it even really happens since this schedule sounds less reliable than any Fox schedule of the past decade) will add nothing to the network and will only take away from the original. You'd think the fact that they apparently have yet to even come up with a real concept would be an indication that it's a bad idea. Or the fact that the hourlong episodes of the show this year put a visible strain on the series. But I can't wait to see this schedule fail and Ben Silverman fall upward like Jeff Zucker. I guarantee that by this time next year he'll be CEO of the Sheinhardt Wig Company.

mj said...

eric fingerhut - for the record, Kath and Kim is uniquely Australian, not British. I think the Aussie Kath and Kim characters (brilliantly played by Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who are executive producers on the NBC version of the show) would be mortified to be called British. Translating Aussie suburban humor into American suburban humor is a big ask but Turner and Riley are more than capable of helping to make it happen. Seems an weird timeslot, though - the often direct, politically incorrect, and irreverent humor from the Aussie Kath and Kim would be like a fish out of water sandwiched between the Biggest Loser and SVU. I hope Turner and Riley were able to negotiate enough creative control so that NBC don't make Kath and Kim unrecognizable.

Kristin said...

If DirecTV had to be in on the deal in order to save FNL, I would think everyone would be happy.

Guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I have DirecTV!!!

LA said...

Alan - Do you have dates for the other networks' upfronts?

dyb said...

mj - The original Kath & Kim may be exec producers on the American remake, but I imagine it's the same as Gervais and Merchant being exec producers on the American Office, ie, "We want your show and your names on the credits, here's a check, ok thanks bye." With Ben Silverman as one of the other exec producers, I think there's a good chance that's the case.

Andrew said...

I gotta think that either NBC or Direct TV will make the Friday Night Lights episodes available online in some manner after they air in the fall. They might stream them; they might sell them for download, but they've gotta do something. They have to know that people will be downloading the torrents immediately if they don't.

dez said...

Well, that wasn't as headache-inducing as Fox's scheduling gymnastics, but still, they're going a long way toward helping me break my addiction to TV, so thanks, NBC!

Chris said...

@Andrew: That's what I'm wondering. I can't get DirecTV thanks to an inconveniently placed huge tree, but there's simply no way I'm waiting months til the episodes air on NBC, whether I have to use legal or illegal means to get them. I saw elsewhere that Silverman figures it's a good deal even if NBC's run of FNL loses the 15% of the audience that has DirecTV. Does he seriously believe it will only be the DirecTV subscriber that will see them before they air on NBC? He can't be that naive, can he?

Alanna said...

At the very least, the DirecTV deal means that even if NBC cancels the show a few weeks into the broadcast airings, we'll still have nearly a half-season of FNL. It's a far from perfect deal overall, but right now I'll take it (and I'm a Comcast girl.)

Tosy And Cosh said...

Is FNL on Hulu? And, if so, are we to assume that it wouldn't show up until NBC g0t them?

jdj said...

Is "My Own Worst Enemy" simply "Chuck" except with a suburban dad instead of a computer store clerk? If you're going to rip off your own shows, I can at least see why you'd do it to "The Office". Ripping off "Chuck" would be like ripping off "Numb3rs".

Alan Sepinwall said...

In case you're just following the comments, I updated the post with a few additional thoughts -- notably my agreement that the DirecTV deal is going to lead to lots of spoiler and BitTorrent problems.

Number Five said...

Regarding Scrubs, maybe he meant that ABC would get great ratings for the series finale but be in trouble because the rest of the season would fare poorly, hence the 1 for 21 phrase?

Out of the dramas and comedies, I count only 3 shows that aren't remakes, spin-offs, or based on other source material (although Kings, Crusoe and Merlin could count either way). At least there's only one doctor/lawyer/cop show. Kings sounds the most interesting at this point. I don't think My Own Worst Enemy is going to be like Chuck; it sounds like there will be a Jekyll/Hyde element and going by the description and involvement of Jason Smilovic, it sounds like it'll be darker as well.

I think the involvement of Greg Daniels and some of the original writers gives the Office spinoff at least a chance to be successful. But if drags The Office down...may the Gods of TV Comedy have their revenge! (not that they have to do much given NBC's current fortunes, but still)

Anonymous said...

wait. it's upfront day and I don't even *know*?

well, I did see ER got picked up, as I was running out the door at work.

and until ABC/Disney pulls it again, you can now get the season 3 Upfront Shower scene from the upfront for Grey's - last year. (it's not as clean as the first one i saw, but it's funny. at least i thought so. there's just the clip, or the entire cast intro with clips for each and then the shower scene.

So basically - has ABC *said* anything about Scrubs? (and will Boston Legal return? is ABC doing an upfront? I read about early pickups, and I read about NBC not doing pilot season ever again, so I don't have a clue anymore. and it's not that I adore BL, but just that I did love seeing Scott's guest spot and was hoping for more (and I like to think he was too))

Pam who can't remember which password she uses on blogger

Kat said...

Oh, ER. It will not die, and for that I continue to watch. I have my doubts about the one more year thing, though. At this point I can't even imagine it ending.

I am so happy to hear about FNL that I don't care what nefarious ways I will have to resort to so that I can see it. :)

David J. Loehr said...

I figured the "go 1 for 21" thing referred to shows that had jumped networks doing well. But few if any jumped intending to do a single final season.

Vance said...

I hate to say it but that was my initial thought when I read that DirecTV October premiere... that I'm going to have to figure out the bittorent thing to watch the episodes. Especially knowing they are out there, I cannot WAIT until Feb. (if there was a DVD, I would even buy it).

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Speaking of which, i don't even KNOW what DirecTV is (and I'm assuming we don't get it here in Canada).

Bobman said...

Speaking of which, i don't even KNOW what DirecTV is (and I'm assuming we don't get it here in Canada).

A satellite television service.

And no, they are not available in Canada.

Siddhartha said...

I don't care that he had a hand in bringing The Office to the US. Ben Silverman is a living, breathing queef.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Is Wyle returning for the whole season on "ER"? One episode? What's the story?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is Wyle returning for the whole season on "ER"? One episode? What's the story?

Unclear. My guess would be he does an arc of a few episodes. I doubt he'd be there for the full season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is "My Own Worst Enemy" simply "Chuck" except with a suburban dad instead of a computer store clerk?

No. The pitch is Jekyl & Hyde meets Bourne Identity. Definitely going to be much darker than Chuck.

Mary Anne said...

Count me among the grateful that I am already with DirecTV and thus will have immediate, legal access to Friday Night Lights in October!

Marsha said...

On "1 for 21" Rick Porter at Zap2it.com said this: "NBC boss Ben Silverman managed to get in a diss of ABC in noting that following its season finale in May, "Scrubs" will be a free agent. "If they can go 1-for-21, good for them," Silverman said, referring to ABC's less-than-stellar recent record at developing comedy hits."
http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-nbcupfrontnotes040208,0,7064180.story

Alan Sepinwall said...

Marsha, Rick was sitting right next to me. He may very well be right in his interpretation of the comment -- it makes more sense than a lot of the other ones I've heard -- but Ben didn't say anything beyond 1-for-21 to give us hints about his true intentions.

dez said...

I doubt he'd be there for the full season.

What else is Noah Wyle doing that he doesn't have the time for ERrrr? ;-)

monic said...

Is Friday night at 10 PM really a death sentence to all shows? Is there anyway we could preemptively stave off cancellation for Life I would really, really want to keep this show on.

That First Andrew said...

Monic,

Send the studio 40,000 pounds of pears