The broadcast television upfronts, when network executives pitch their upcoming slates of shows to potential advertisers, got underway Monday courtesy of NBCUniversal’s event from its usual Radio City Music Hall haunt. Fox will follow in the afternoon from a new venue, Skylight on Vessey, although that one will be less satisfying for both media and media buyers. We’ll explain.
Ahead of their respective upfronts, networks are supposed to reveal their new fall schedules. While NBC followed the rules (and tradition), Fox left us hanging. Still, mere hours into the 2022 broadcast upfront week, we’ve already got some winners and losers; guess where Fox ranks with the whole schedule holdup? (We suppose it’s fair to say that any show making the fall slate is a winner to some degree. Don’t agree? Ask producers from any of the 20-something cancelled broadcast series.)
Winner: Quantum Lead-in
NBC’s “Quantum Leap” reboot scored the coveted “The Voice – Tuesdays” lead-in. So on the plus side, there will be a large audience naturally rolling into the new show; on the minus side, that makes “Quantum Leap” a 10 p.m. series, occupying the final hour of TV’s primetime and an hour doesn’t tend to get all that much “live” viewing. That said, multi-platform delayed viewing should make up for the relatively late time slot — and that’s how linear-TV shows are generally judged these days anyway.
Scheduling a new series in the time slot immediately following your top entertainment show that is not “Sunday Night Football” can be perceived in one of two ways: 1) The network has high hopes for the freshman, and wants as much exposure on it as possible; or 2) Boy oh boy, “Quantum Leap” must need the help.
In the case of the NBC reboot, the former option is more likely closer to the truth. One network insider told IndieWire that new star Raymond Lee is “very good.” Scott Bakula, eat your heart out.
On the subject of cuisine…
Loser: You Can Smell What’s Cooking Here
NBC banished Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s “Young Rock” to Fridays, which is typically a death sentence for shows not named “Blue Bloods.” The network will explain it away as good pairing with George Lopez’s new sitcom, “Lopez vs. Lopez,” but really it’s a reflection of the lack of confidence NBC has in Johnson’s third-season comedy (and the first-season one).
Interestingly enough, The Rock — the former pro-wrestler who essentially coined the term “smackdown” — will be competing with WWE again as his series goes head-to-head with Fox’s “WWE SmackDown” when the comedy comes back in November.
Speaking of which…
Loser: Why So Serious, NBC?
For the second year in a row, NBC will start its fall with no comedies on the schedule. An NBC spokesperson brushed this off, telling IndieWire that it very much considers the November starts to “Lopez vs. Lopez” and “Young Rock” to be part of the fall schedule. The Peyton Manning-hosted “College Bowl” is there early to align with the NFL and collegiate football seasons, the spokesperson continued. Sure, fine; fair enough — but still.
Of course, having two straight nights of “The Voice” (and friends), two more straight nights of nothing but Dick Wolf programming (the “One Chicago” lineup on Wednesdays and a trio of “Law & Orders” on Thursdays), and Sundays dedicated to the number-one overall series on broadcast television, “Sunday Night Football,” does kind of limit the opportunities for laughs.
Jordin Althaus/NBC/Warner Bros. Television
Loser: Court Not Yet in Session
Bummer about the “Night Court” sequel series missing the fall. Since we got that episodic photo (above) of returning star John Larroquette opposite Melissa Rauch as Judge Abby Stone, the series is pretty far into production. The company line from NBC is more of the limited-space argument and the desire to stretch “big” shows throughout the year; nothing to worry about, creatively. Ah, the silly, old-fashioned constraints of linear TV.
Either way, this “Night Court” simply won’t be the same without the late Harry Anderson, who died four years ago.
Winner: Next-Level Lead-in
You thought “Quantum Leap” scored, scheduling-wise? Gordon Ramsay’s “Next Level Chef” landed the post-Super Bowl time slot on Fox in February. Seeing as how the big game is always (by far) the biggest TV show of the year, there is no better spot for a TV show than airing immediately after. Ramsay’s “Next Level Chef” had a huge launchpad out of the NFC Championship Game last season, and that certainly worked out. Collier can do Ramsay one better this coming year.
“We look we look very closely at the Super Bowl and also the NFC Championship because they’re such unique events and so useful as launching pads and awareness vehicles. And what we’ve seen is that putting an alternative show and not launching a new show for bringing back an existing show for a season premiere is the most productive way to use that platform and to help grow a young asset,” Dan Harrison, the executive vice president of Strategic Program Planning for Fox Entertainment, said on Monday’s Fox upfront conference call. “So that’s exactly what we’re doing with ‘Next Level Chef.’”
Loser: Rob Wade, for That Rudy Giuliani Answer
On Fox’s Monday morning conference call about its fall slate, the network’s alternative chief Rob Wade was asked if he had any regrets about allowing Rudy Giuliani on “The Masked Singer” this past season.
“Absolutely no regrets,” Wade said. “The marketing is all about delivering jaw-dropping moments, which is exactly what the casting accomplished.”
“Whether it was on set or with the viewers at home, I suppose my only regret or surprise was obviously the reveal was spoiled [by the press], but kudos to you guys,” he added. “Just please don’t do it again.”
The revelation of the disgraced attorney and former Mayor of New York City as Jack in the Box on the April 20 episode led to judge walkouts, with Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke leaving the stage.
Loser: Uh, Fox, You Forgot Something
We got Fox’s fall slate on Monday, but not its fall schedule. Gonna need that, yeah. The problem is tied to the fact that Fox has not yet renewed its hit drama “9-1-1,” and has yet to make a decision on “The Resident.” Both shows should come back, and the network is “negotiating in good faith” with studio 20th Television as we type.
We’re told the Fox fall schedule is coming — just not today, when it normally would and should. Anyway, below is NBC’s fall schedule (mostly) in the network’s own formatting; it will have to do for now.
NBC Fall 2022-23 Schedule
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)
8-10 P.M. — The Voice
10-11 P.M. — QUANTUM LEAP
8-9 P.M. — The Voice
9-10 P.M. — La Brea
10-11 P.M. — New Amsterdam
8-9 P.M. — Chicago Med
9-10 P.M. — Chicago Fire
10-11 P.M. — Chicago P.D.
8-9 P.M. — Law & Order
9-10 P.M. — Law & Order: SVU
10-11 P.M. — Law & Order: Organized Crime
8-9 P.M. – Capital One College Bowl
8-8:30 P.M. – LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ (November)
8:30-9 P.M. – Young Rock (November)
9-11 P.M — Dateline NBC
8-9 P.M. — Drama Encores
9-10 P.M. — Dateline Weekend Mystery
10-11 P.M. – SNL Vintage
7-8:20 P.M. — Football Night in America (also live on Peacock)
8:20-11 P.M. — NBC Sunday Night Football (also live on Peacock)