“This Is Us” has landed the coveted post-Super Bowl slot next February, as expected. Meanwhile, NBC will play it safe in the fall, launching just three new shows – and two of them are updates of familiar franchises “Will & Grace” and “Law & Order.”
NBC is pretty much the envy of almost every other broadcast network right now, and for good reason: The Peacock network boasts both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics in the 2017-2018 TV season, a stroke of luck that guarantees ratings dominance in an age where that’s almost an oxymoron. And if that wasn’t enough, NBC also airs the top-rated Sunday Night Football in the fall, as well as shares Thursday Night Football with CBS.
And then there’s “This Is Us.” The show ends the 2016-2017 as the No. 2 broadcast scripted series among adults 18-49, behind just CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s no surprise, then, that NBC has decided to air a special episode behind the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018. According to insiders, the network and producers have been working on timing for weeks in order to line the show’s 18-episode order up just right to make sure this episode is a pivotal one.
“It will be a special ‘This Is Us episode,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “We thought it would be great to put the No. 1 sports franchise followed by the No. 1 scripted show franchise.” NBC is also planning a special Christmas episode of “This Is Us” to run in December, between the show’s two season halves.
But NBC has even bigger goals for “This Is Us”: The network will use the drama to resurrect its dormant Thursday night “Must See TV” brand. The drama moves to the tentpole Thursday 9 p.m. ET slot this fall, and will be surrounded by familiar titles: The 12-episode return of “Will & Grace” – which actually was a ‘Must See TV’ show back in the day – will air at 8 p.m., while Dick Wolf’s new “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders,” starring Edie Falco, will air at 10 p.m.
Greenblatt said he believed “This Is Us” was a “show we think is peerless at the moment in broadcast TV, so we decided to move it to Thursday night. But we didn’t want to just throw it there and hope for the best. We are strategically surrounding it with shows that are really strong.”
Greenblatt said he was also bullish on freshman comedy “Great News,” which will feature executive producer Tina Fey more prominently on screen next season.
“We’re adding Tina Fey to the Must See TV lineup,” he quipped.
Returning shows for the 2017-18 schedule include “The Blacklist,” “Blindspot,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Dateline NBC,” “The Good Place,” “Great News,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Little Big Shots,” “Shades of Blue,” “Superstore,” “Taken,” “This Is Us,” “Timeless,” “The Voice” and “The Wall.”
Here is NBC’s fall schedule:
NBC FALL 2017-18 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-10 P.M. — The Voice
10-11 P.M. — THE BRAVE
8-9 P.M. — The Voice
9-9:30 P.M. — Superstore
9:30-10 P.M. — The Good Place
10-11 P.M. — Chicago Fire
8-9 P.M. — The Blacklist
9-10 P.M. — Law & Order: SVU
10-11 P.M. — Chicago P.D.
8-8:30 P.M. — WILL & GRACE
8:30-9 P.M. — Great News
9-10 P.M. — This Is Us
10-11 P.M. — LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME: THE MENENDEZ MURDERS
8-9 P.M. — Blindspot
9-10 P.M. — Taken
10-11 P.M — Dateline NBC
8-10 P.M. —Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
10-11 P.M. — Saturday Night Live (encores)
7-8:20 P.M. — Football Night in America
8:20-11 P.M. — NBC Sunday Night Football
MIDSEASON: Dramas include “Rise” from “Friday Night Lights” executive producer Jason Katims and “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Sellers; provocative “Good Girls” from “Scandal” alum Jenna Bans; and Amblin Television’s “Reverie,” with “Chicago Med” returning to Thursdays at 10 p.m. Comedy “A.P. Bio,” executive produced by Seth Meyers and Lorne Michaels, will be ready to school the competition while “Champions” brings Mindy Kaling back to NBC as an executive producer. Chris Hardwick’s “The Awesome Show,” “Ellen’s Game of Games” from Ellen DeGeneres, “Genius Junior” hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and “The Handmade Project” executive produced and hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman highlight a potent alternative slate.
NEW DRAMA SERIES
From Keshet Studios and Avi Nir (executive producer of “Homeland”) comes a fresh, heart-pounding journey into the complex world of America’s elite undercover military heroes. While D.I.A. Deputy Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche) and her team of analysts wield the world’s most advanced surveillance technology from Washington, D.C., Adam Dalton and his heroic Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists use their unbreakable bond and commitment to freedom to save lives of innocent people and execute missions in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
The cast includes Anne Heche, Mike Vogel, Sofia Pernas, Tate Ellington, Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse, Noah Mills and Hadi Tabbal.
Dean Georgaris will write and executive produce. Brad Anderson will direct and executive produce the pilot. Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan also executive produce. “The Brave” is produced by Universal Television and Keshet Studios.
When three suburban moms get tired of trying to make ends meet, they decide it’s time to stick up for themselves by robbing the local supermarket at (toy) gunpoint. But when the manager catches a glimpse of one of them and the loot is far more than they expected, it doesn’t take long for the three best friends to realize the perfect getaway will be harder than they think. From executive producer Jenna Bans (“Scandal”) comes this comedy-infused drama that mixes a little “Thelma & Louise” with a bit of “Breaking Bad.”
The cast includes Retta, Mae Whitman, Reno Wilson, Manny Montana, Lidya Jewett, Izzy Stannard and Matthew Lillard.
Jenna Bans will write and executive produce. Dean Parisot directs and executive produces the pilot. Jeannine Renshaw also executive produces. “Good Girls” is produced by Universal Television.
“LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME: THE MENENDEZ MURDERS”
Starring the incomparable Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Edie Falco (“The Sopranos,” “Nurse Jackie”), this new eight-episode true-crime installment of the powerhouse “Law & Order” franchise delivers a gripping in-depth dramatization of the notorious murder case that changed America forever. When the Menendez brothers were tried on national TV for brutally killing their parents in Beverly Hills, their story became a national obsession. Now, the first edition of this anthology series delves into the players, the crime and the media circus, detailing the day-to-day battles of the trial and unveiling the shocking truth of what really went down when the cameras stopped rolling.
Rene Balcer will write and executive produce. Lesli Linka Glatter will direct and executive produce. Dick Wolf, Peter Jankowski and Arthur W. Forney also executive produce. “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” is produced by Universal Television and Wolf Films.
From Mickey Fisher, the creator of “Extant,” this grounded new thriller follows Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), a former hostage negotiator and expert on human behavior who became a college professor after facing an unimaginable personal tragedy. But when she’s brought in to save ordinary people who have lost themselves in a highly advanced virtual-reality program in which you can literally live your dreams, she finds that in saving others, she may actually have discovered a way to save herself.
The cast includes Sarah Shahi, Dennis Haysbert, Jessica Lu, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Kathryn Morris.
Mickey Fisher will write and executive produce. Jaume Collet-Serra will direct and executive produce the pilot. Brooklyn Weaver, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey also executive produce. Tom Szentgyorgyi is a consulting producer. “Reverie” is produced by Universal Television and Amblin Television.
From Jason Katims, writer and executive producer of “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood,” and “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller comes a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. Inspired by a true story.
The cast includes Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Marley Shelton, Auli’i Cravalho, Damon J. Gillespie, Amy Forsyth, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Casey Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joe Tippett and Shirley Rumierk.
Jason Katims will write and executive produce. Mike Cahill will direct and executive produce the pilot. Michelle Lee, Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez also executive produce. “Rise” is produced by Universal Television, True Jack Productions and Seller Suarez Productions.
NEW COMEDY SERIES
When a philosophy scholar loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher, he makes it clear he will not be teaching any biology. Realizing he has a room full of honor roll students at his disposal, he decides instead to use the kids to his own benefit.
The cast includes Glenn Howerton, Patton Oswalt, Lyric Lewis, Mary Sohn, Aparna Brielle, Jacob McCarthy, Nick Peine and guest star Vanessa Bayer (pilot only).
Mike O’Brien will write and executive produce. Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers, Andrew Singer and Mike Shoemaker also executive produce. Osmany Rodriguez will direct. “A.P. Bio” is produced by Universal Television, Broadway Video and Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions.
Vince, a charismatic gym owner with no ambition, lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya (Mindy Kaling), one of his old high school flings.
The cast includes Anders Holm, Andy Favreau, J.J. Totah, Mouzam Makkar, Nina Wadia and guest star Mindy Kaling.
Charlie Grandy and Mindy Kaling will write and executive produce. Michael Alan Spiller will direct and executive produce. Howard Klein also executive produces. “Champions” is produced by Universal Television, 3 Arts Entertainment, Eyes Up Productions and Kaling International.
“WILL & GRACE”
That’s right, honey! A decade after their unforgettable eight-season run, comedy’s most fabulous foursome is back. Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their infamous roles as Will, Grace, Jack and Karen in this exclusive 12-episode event. The legendary James Burrows, director of every original “Will & Grace” episode, returns along with a slew of razor-sharp jabs and dirty martinis. Behold once again, from the minds of Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, TV’s wittiest ensemble ever.
The cast includes Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.
Max Mutchnick and David Kohan will write and executive produce. Alex Herschlag, Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally also executive produce. James Burrows will direct and executive produce. “Will & Grace” is produced by Universal Television.
NEW ALTERNATIVE SERIES
“THE AWESOME SHOW”
From executive producer/host Chris Hardwick (“The Wall”), executive producer Mark Burnett (“The Voice”) and Silicon Valley’s Singularity University comes a new series that will showcase the groundbreaking scientific and technological advances that are shaping the future, as well as celebrate the pioneers and communities at the forefront of this golden age of unprecedented discovery, innovation and opportunity. Each episode of “The Awesome Show” will be a rollercoaster ride through the world of innovation as told by the people who are shaping it and whose lives are affected by it. The series will highlight stories of revolutionary scientific and technological advances and will marvel at mankind’s tremendous feats, both now and in the future.
Mark Burnett, Chris Hardwick and Alex Murray executive produce. “The Awesome Show” is produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio in association with Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Fish Ladder.
“ELLEN’S GAME OF GAMES”
The one and only Ellen DeGeneres returns to primetime to host an exciting new game show that’s one big party! Featuring super-sized versions of some of the most beloved games from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” as well as new ones, contestants will be pulled from the studio audience to maneuver massive obstacles while answering trivia questions, all under the pressure of Ellen’s mischievous and hilarious antics. With DeGeneres’ witty and comedic sensibility plus fun-filled games, each episode is sure to entertain the entire family and deliver lots of laughs. One lucky contestant will get the chance to win the grand prize, but everyone will have a blast!
Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner, Kevin Leman and David A. Hurwitz executive produce. Russell Norman directs. “Ellen’s Game of Games” is produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted in association with A Very Good Production and Telepictures.
No stranger to young geniuses, Neil Patrick Harris hosts an exciting new game show that celebrates the smartest kids in America. These talented “genius juniors” will team up to take on mind-blowing tests of logic, math, memory, spelling and more. Through escalating rounds, they will be tested in each area of the brain, culminating in an ultimate challenge to be crowned the smartest and brightest. The winning team will take home a life-changing prize — setting the stage for a big, bright future ahead.
Neil Patrick Harris, Pam Healey, John Hesling, Phil Parsons and Ed Egan executive produce. “Genius Junior” is produced by Shed Media in association with Prediction Productions.
“THE HANDMADE PROJECT”
From executive producer and host Amy Poehler and co-host Nick Offerman comes a lighthearted competition celebrating the creativity and craftiness in all of us. Each week, eight amateur makers will take on a series of projects they must complete in their own unique way. As the competition escalates, the amateurs will be challenged to master progressively difficult skills, culminating in a final craft-off between the most creative and tenacious contestants. Shot in a serene outdoor setting, this friendly competition will focus on the character and camaraderie of DIY culture – and through it all, Poehler and Offerman will provide encouragement, guidance and plenty of laughs.
Amy Poehler, Brooke Posch, Nicolle Yaron, Nick Offerman, Dave Becky and Anthony Dominici executive produce. “The Handmade Project” is produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio in association with Paper Kite Productions.