Once again, NBC has announced the bulk of its schedule early as opposed to waiting for the traditional upfronts week in Manhattan — which, by the way, kicks off on May 18.
The upfronts is a weeklong process during which broadcast networks unveil their fall schedules to advertisers. The goal is to get them to commit chunks of advertising dollars ahead of the fall launch. But for the average viewer’s purposes, it’s the week during which we find out whether our favorite series got the ax.
In NBC’s case, there is the usual bad news, some good news, and a few issues left unresolved — the main one being the fate of “Chuck,” Josh Schwartz‘s much-loved but relatively low-rated action comedy starring Zachary Levi.
Let’s start with the good news: “Heroes,” midseason addition “Southland,” and six new episodes of “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday” will be back in the fall, along with the Amy Poehler-vehicle “Parks and Recreation.” (We have mixed feelings about that one; while we’re big fans of Amy Poehler, this show needs a serious kick in the pants.) NBC also gave a last-minute pickup to “Medium,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, albeit with a reduced season order that is yet to be finalized.
These pickups join NBC’s previously announced keepers “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “The Biggest Loser,” “The Celebrity Apprentice,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Friday Night Lights.”
NBC also previously committed to three new reality series, “The Marriage Ref,” “Breakthrough With Tony Robbins” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” This is in addition to the Jay Leno’s upcoming foray into primetime, which will take over the 10 p.m. slot Monday through Friday.
The bad/frustrating news? Missing from the schedule are “Law & Order: Original Flavor,” “Life” (a favorite among IMDb’ers but, sadly, a longshot to survive) “My Name is Earl” and, as we mentioned above, “Chuck.” There’s a good chance “L&O” will return in midseason, but “My Name is Earl” has neither strong ratings nor a strong buzz working in its favor, and “Life‘s” fans accepted its demise weeks ago.
Then we have “Chuck,” whose fans are so fired up to save it that they’re willing to stuff themselves with five dollar foot-longs from Subway. Call me a dreamer, but I have a feeling that the only reason NBC’s executives didn’t announce its pickup today is because the network wants to save some drama for its official upfront presentation on May 19.
The list of the dead, both official and presumed:
“America’s Toughest Jobs,” “American Gladiators,” “The Baby Borrowers,” “Celebrity Circus,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” ‘The Chopping Block,” “Crusoe,” “ER,” “Fear Itself,” “Kings,” “Last Comic Standing,” “Life,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Momma’s Boys,” “Most Outrageous Moments,” “My Own Worst Enemy,” and “Nashville Star.”
Keep reading for descriptions of the new series joining NBC’s schedule this fall, taking from a network press release.
2009-2010 NEW SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
From the executive producers of the box-office hit “Parenthood” — Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (Oscar winners for “A Beautiful Mind”), and writer/executive producer Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights”) — this contemporary re-imagining of the blockbuster film depicts the colorful and imperfect Braverman family — four grown siblings sharing the headaches, heartaches and joy of being parents. The star-studded cast includes Peter Krause, Maura Tierney, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen and Sarah Ramos. When Sarah Braverman (Tierney, “ER”), a financially strapped single mother, returns home to her parents and siblings in Berkeley, Calif. after packing up her Fresno apartment and uprooting her two inconvenienced kids, Amber (Mae Whitman, “In Treatment”) and Drew (Miles Heizer, “ER”), she is greeted by her opinionated father, Zeek (Nelson, “Family Stone,” “Coach”), and strong mother, Camille (Bedelia, “Heart Like a Wheel”), who are privately dealing with their own marital issues. As Sarah is reunited with her siblings — sister, Julia (Christensen, “Traffic”), and brothers Crosby (Shepard, “Baby Mama”) and Adam (Krause, “Six Feet Under”) — all struggling with issues of their own, it’s clear that the Braverman reunion is just what they need to face the everyday challenges of modern family life. “Parenthood” is a production from Imagine Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Emmy winner Thomas Schlamme (“The West Wing”) directs the pilot.
Executive producer Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) delivers “Trauma,” the first high-octane medical drama series to live exclusively in the field where the real action is. Like an adrenaline shot to the heart, “Trauma” is an intense, action-packed look at one of the most dangerous medical professions in the world: first responder paramedics. When emergencies occur, the trauma team from San Francisco General is first on the scene, traveling by land, by sea or by air to reach their victims in time. From the heights of the city’s Transamerica Pyramid to the depths of the San Francisco Bay, these heroes must face the most extreme conditions to save lives — and give meaning to their own existence in the process. Starring in “Trauma” are Derek Luke (“Notorious”), Cliff Curtis (“10,000 B.C”), Anastasia Griffith (“Damages”), Aimee Garcia (“George Lopez”), Kevin Rankin (“Friday Night Lights”) and Jamey Sheridan (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent”). “Trauma” is a production of Universal Media Studios and Film 44. Berg, Sarah Aubrey (“Bad Santa,” “Friday Night Lights”), Dario Scardapane and Jeffrey Reiner (“Friday Night Lights”) serve as executive producers. The pilot was written by Scardapane and directed by Reiner.
“Mercy,” a new medical drama with a unique point of view, portrays the lives of the staff at Mercy Hospital as seen through the eyes of those who know it best — its nurses. Nurse Veronica Callahan (Taylor Schilling, “Dark Matter”) returns to Mercy from a military tour in Iraq — and she knows more about medicine than all of the residents combined. Together with fellow nurses Sonia Jimenez (Jamie Lee Kirchner, “Rescue Me”) and Chloe Payne (Michelle Trachtenberg, “Gossip Girl”), Callahan navigates through the daily traumas and social landmines of life and love both inside the hospital and out in the real world. The cast also includes: James Tupper (“Men in Trees”) as Dr. Chris Sands, a new doctor at the hospital who complicates Veronica’s life; Diego Klattenhoff (“Supernatural”) as Mike Callahan, Veronica’s husband; and Guillermo Diaz (“Weeds”) as Nurse Angel Lopez. “Mercy” is a production from Universal Media Studios and Berman Braun. Joining writer/executive producers Liz Heldens (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) and Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts (“Pushing Daisies,” “Pepper Dennis”) are executive producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. Emmy Award winner Adam Bernstein (NBC’s “30 Rock,” “Rescue Me”) is the director.
From executive producer/writer Jesse Alexander (“Heroes,” “Lost,” “Alias”) and director Alex Graves (“Fringe,” “Journeyman”), “Day One” tells the story of life on earth following a global catastrophe that has devastated the world’s infrastructures. Beginning with the immediate aftermath of the cataclysmic event, an eclectic band of survivors — played by Adam Campbell (“Date Movie”), Catherine Dent (“The Shield”), Julie Gonzalo (“Eli Stone”), David Lyons (“ER”), Derek Mio (“Greek”), Carly Pope (“24″), Thekla Reuten (“Sleeper Cell”) and Addison Timlin (“Cashmere Mafia”) — strives to rebuild society as they unravel the mysteries of what happened and face their uncertain future. The group, all residents of one apartment building in suburban Van Nuys, Calif., embarks on a quest for survival and discovers that hope is found in small victories — and heroes are born every day. “Day One” is a Universal Media Studios production.
Emmy winner James Burrows (“Will & Grace,” “Friends”) directs “100 Questions,” a new comedy series written and executive-produced by Christopher Moynihan (“For Your Consideration”) that provides hilarious answers to 100 questions about love. Charlotte Payne (Sophie Winkleman, “Peep Show”) is looking for love and has rejected multiple marriage proposals — but she has yet to meet Mr. Right. When she joins a popular online dating site, she gets a little help from her dating counselor Ravi (Amir Talai, “The Ex List”) – who requires her to take a 100-question compatibility test. The questions aren’t easy for Charlotte to answer, and each one requires her to recount a poignant and humorous time in her life with friends Leslie (Elizabeth Ho, “Women’s Murder Club”), Jill (Joy Suprano, NBC’s “Law & Order”), Mike (Christopher Moynihan “For Your Consideration”) and Wayne (David Walton “Quarterlife”). The test becomes a journey of self-discovery for Charlotte who begins to realize what she truly wants in a relationship. Ron West (“Psych”), Kelly Kulchak (“Psych”) and Michelle Nader (“King of Queens”) join Moynihan as executive producers. The series is produced by Universal Media Studios and Tagline.
From Emmy Award-winning directors Joe and Anthony Russo (“Arrested Development”) comes “Community,” a smart comedy series about higher education — and lower expectations. The student body at Greendale Community College is made up of high-school losers, newly divorced housewives, and old people who want to keep their minds active. Within these not-so-hallowed halls, “Community” focuses on a band of misfits, at the center of which is a fast-talkin’ lawyer whose degree has been revoked (Joel McHale, “The Soup”), who form a study group and end up learning a lot more about themselves than they do about their course work. In addition to McHale, the series also stars: Gillian Jacobs (“The Book of Daniel”); Yvette Nicole Brown (“Rules of Engagement”); Danny Pudi (“Greek”); Alison Brie (“Mad Men”); and comedy legend Chevy Chase (“Saturday Night Live”). “Community” is a Krasnoff Foster Entertainment, Harmonious Claptrap and Russo Brothers production in association with Sony Pictures Television and Universal Media Studios. Russ Krasnoff (“The Soloist”), Dan Harmon (“The Sarah Silverman Program”), Joe Russo (“Arrested Development”), Anthony Russo (“Arrested Development”) and Gary Foster (“The Soloist”) serve as executive producers. Joe and Anthony Russo directed the pilot that was written by Dan Harmon.