The 2011-2012 NBC Fall Schedule

[Click on NBC Logo for 2011 NBC Fall Schedule]

When you are in last place, they say the only way you can go is up. NBC has proven there are two ways: You can either go up or stay put. And stay put they did.

Not only did NBC stay in last place this past TV season among the major networks, but they also lost the most viewership among the network, losing over 13% of their viewership from the previous season, comparable to the 5-8% from the other networks (though NBC did have the Olympics the previous season).

So if they’re so bad, why don’t they just cancel the bad shows? Well, a majority of those shows were cancelled. This season, new dramas Chase, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Outlaw, The Cape, The Event, and Undercovers were all cancelled. New comedies Friends with Benefits, Love Bites, Perfect Couples, Outsourced, and the Paul Reiser Show were all cancelled. But the embarrassing part is not the multiple cancellations, but how they got cancelled. Perfect Couples, Paul Reiser, L&O:LA, The Cape, Outlaw, and Undercovers were cancelled well before they finished their runs. Love Bites and Friends with Benefits never even came out of the gate (both premiering during the summer, well after they were cancelled). Of the 14 new series developed last season, only 2 are returning. Harry’s Law is the only scripted series from the pack returning with impressive numbers, and surprise hit The Voice, the music competition, will premiere after the Super Bowl.

So, as I called it then, (though I believed The Event was going to make it, and thought Harry’s Law wasn’t), last season did not go well for NBC. This year, it looks no different. I see 12 new scripted shows, and probably only a few seem to have potential. Very, very few. But on the positive side, I believe they’ll be more new series picked up this season then last season. But that isn’t saying much.

We will start off by analyzing the current returning series by genre, first comedies, then dramas. Then, I’ll analyze the new series. (Rankings presented by Nielsen through Deadline).

2010-11 NBC Rankings (for Scripted Series in P18-49 Ratings)

Rank Show (^: cancelled)
#1 The Office
#2 Parenthood
#3 Law and Order: SVU
#4 Parks and Recreation
#5 30 Rock
#6 Outsourced^
#7 The Event^
#8 Harry’s Law
#9 Law and Order: LA^
#10 Community
#11 The Cape^
#12 Chuck
#13 Chase^
#14 Undercovers^
#15 Perfect Couples^
#16 Outlaw^
#17 The Paul Reiser Show^
#18 Friday Night Lights^

Returning Comedies

The Office

Rank Among Total Shows (out of 141): T11th

Rank Among NBC Shows (out of 18): 1st

Rank Among Timeslot (out of 4): 2nd

Predict: Steady Decline in Viewership & Ratings

Without Steve Carell, The Office won’t be the same. Neither will the ratings. The Office is NBC’s #1 show with prime demographics (P18-49). I agree that The Office should not have ended (since NBC needs them), but when your best show isn’t even the most watched in its slot, it’s hurtful. However, with CBS switching CSI out of the 9:00pm slot for a new show (Person of Interest), it may give The Office an edge. However, I still anticipate a fall in overall ratings and viewership.

Parks and Recreation

Rank Among Total Shows: T53rd

Rank Among NBC Shows: 4th

Rank Among Timeslot: 4th

Predict: Slight Decline in Viewership; Constant Ratings

The show has gotten funnier and funnier as the years go on, but P&R hasn’t gotten the recognition it has deserved, including an internet blow-up when fans called foul that Nick Offerman (a.k.a Ron Swanson) didn’t get an Emmy nomination. But P&R can never catch a break. Community isn’t really a great lead-in (no offense), The X-Factor (FOX) heads into its last half-hour, and Charlie’s Angels (new for ABC) has a spark. Despite the advantage of having a rookie comedy on CBS during its spot (and not looking great), I predict that P&R will rank lower in viewership this season, despite being a better show. However, on the plus side, I don’t think NBC cares about ratings at this point. By season’s end, the show will be halfway to syndication, and NBC will probably like to keep it going. Plus, their situation doesn’t warrant eliminating more shows until some of their new shows actually do well.

30 Rock

Rank Among Total Shows: T53rd

Rank Among NBC Shows: 5th

Rank Among Timeslot: 3rd (out of 3)

Predict: Consistent Viewership & Ratings

As P&R has increased slowly over past year, 30 Rock has slowly decreased. It’s quick and witty jokes are now missed punchlines, and its move to 10pm didn’t help either. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still funny. But it’s not as funny as previous years. Regardless, with rumors that this may be the last season and Tina Fey increasingly doing other projects, I look for the ratings to remain constant, perhaps a slight drop. However, if word gets out that this indeed is the last season, look for a dramatic increase, followed by a sharp decrease. 30 Rock comes back at mid-season.


Rank Among Total Shows: 81st

Rank Among NBC Shows: 4th

Rank Among Timeslot: 4th

Predict: Decline in Rankings & Viewership

Despite being the best at pop culture references on television and probably the most unpredictable cast on NBC, Community has for consecutive seasons just had enough to carry on. It might have to do with the show having Joel McHale or because the show is cheap to make or NBC Studios produces the show. Whichever it is, the show has barely decreased in viewership from its first season. I don’t know where to go with it, but I think Community will continue to drop unless something dramatic happens. X-Factor (FOX) and Big Bang Theory (CBS) won’t help matters at all, so we’ll probably be watching the last episodes of Community. I think at least one comedy will shine out and overtake Community.

Returning Dramas

Law and Order: SVU

Rank Among Total Shows: T50th

Rank Among NBC Shows: 3rd

Rank Among Timeslot: 3rd

Predict: Decline in Rankings & Viewership

Remember what I said for The Office. Reapply here for SVU. Christopher Meloni isn’t returning to SVU, Mariska Hargitay will be in fewer episodes, and B.G. Wong is headed to another NBC series (Awake). I can only see a decrease in viewership, with Meloni’s absence hurting the quality of the show. However, one could make the case that SVU is also now the only remaining Law and Order remaining, following the L&O and L&O:LA cancellations; so L&O fans will flock to this series. However, too much new stuff for the old dog to learn, if you ask me. I’m not calling a cancellation here (though matched against CSI makes it tempting), but look for NBC to ask Dick Wolf to wrap it up for a final season next year.


Rank Among Total Shows: T45th

Rank Among NBC Shows: 2nd

Rank Among Timeslot: 1st

Predict: Slight Increase in Ratings & Viewership

Parenthood has slightly increased in viewers and decreased in ratings; however for its timeslot, it does great in ratings and horrible in viewership. Parenthood, in my opinion, was great season one and…okay season two. This season, Parenthood will be playing against a new series on CBS (Unforgettable) and one of the highest rated shows on ABC (Body of Proof). I sense an increase in ratings, but Parenthood has to come up with something huge…and I think Amber’s accident for the season finale will do the trick.

Harry’s Law

Rank Among Total Shows: T63th

Rank Among NBC Shows: 8th

Rank Among Timeslot: 3rd (out of 3)

Predict: Steep Decline in Ratings & Viewership

The only scripted freshmen series returning for NBC will be done before it can do anything. For NBC, the series has been strong for viewership; but it was when Hawaii Five-O (CBS) and Castle (ABC) were its competitor and nothing on FOX. Now, insert the very highly-anticipated X-Factor on FOX, highly-rated Criminal Minds on CBS, and highly-“emmyed” Modern Family on ABC. All demographics that Harry’s Law fought for will be absent. Harry’s Law got hurt by this placement, and they may have already seen the best of the series.


Rank Among Total Shows: T83rd

Rank Among NBC Shows: 11th

Rank Among Timeslot: 4th

Predict: Slight Increase in Viewership; Consistent on Ratings

Chuck’s last season will be interesting. I see an increase in viewers, but Chuck will still be fighting with Extreme Makeover, a higher-rated show in Kitchen Nightmares, and a new CBS show (new CBS show usually beat Chuck in viewership). Expect higher ratings, but a last place slot battle again.

New Comedies (Fall)

Free Agents
Predict: Renewed for 2nd Season, 5 million viewers; NBC’s highest new comedy

If there’s one comedy I would pick from the bunch that could have the potential to become the next Office (in popularity), it’s Free Agents. Without the shifty camera angles of Office and Parks, Free Agents still gives the environment that people have problems, and they try to help each other out. As far as I’ve seen, the jokes are spot on, the characters are relatable and funny, and the show has a premise that people can relate to as well. It may not exactly be water-cooler conversation, but it will be a show that will be fun watching. Too bad it’s placed on the worst spot ever: against Survivor and The X Factor. However, they begin a week before the X Factor, so maybe…maybe they’ll have a decent following. I predict ratings way higher than Community, but hurt because of their timeslot. I still think they’d be a way better show for 9:30 than Whitney…

Predict: On the Bubble. 4.2 million viewers; NBC’s most potential new comedy

I just don’t know. I watched the preview once. I didn’t like it. I watched it a second time. I was okay with it. I watched it a third time. I chuckled. So I guess she has to grown on you for one to like the show. I think the show has potential, but the laugh track makes it somewhat annoying. I know that NBC used to be the king of comedy with their laugh-track shows (Friends, Seinfeld, Cheers, etc.), but laugh track shows only work on CBS now (for reasons I don’t know). Maybe it’s also because CBS only has laugh-track comedies while this will be the only laugh-track on NBC. But besides all that, I’m on the fence with Whitney. She may grow on me, but she’s not the funniest of the NBC bunch. I’d still take McHale over her. She’ll have to compete with Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) and Bones (FOX), which will not be an easy feat. Plus, another rookie series in the timeslot, Person of Interest (CBS) has been getting more buzz. She’s also producing another show on CBS (Two Broke Girls), potentially hurting her commitment. I’m on the fence. I say worse than Community, but close.

Up All Night
Predict: Toss-up; 4.1 millions viewers; risky

First, I’m very hesitate when it comes to down to Christina Applegate and Will Arnett. Applegate’s last good performance was Anchorman (film) but in TV was Married with Children. Arnett may have been awesome in Arrested Development, but since has failed at leading roles (with really good guest roles). So together, they can make or break the show. The jokes are hit and miss, and Maya Rudolph’s character is both great and already annoying at the same time. The show can be relatable in some areas, and others are just not. Some things are just irresponsible (for comedy, of course), but not as funny as an irresponsible Michael Scott. I think it’ll be a showdown between Whitney and Up All Night on which show will be more successful, and I want to say “so far” that Up All Night has it. But, I see less potential from Up All Night. I just see this as a one-family Modern Family, but more profane and less quirky.

New Dramas (Fall)

Predict: Finish 1st-year run; questionable 2nd season; 4.0 million viewers

I’m intrigued. I see the show evolving, but I see few problems. How many Grimm stories are there? I think the premise is creative, and some people (Comic-Con fans, for example) will see that this show will be pretty awesome. But also, what’s the overall story arc? Is there an ultimate Grimm that needs to be defeated? An hour-packed series about a detective that sees things others does go along the lines of Medium (CBS, formerly NBC), so there’s been some tapped success there. But where I see potential for growth with stories of Little Red Riding Hood and so forth; I also see as weaknesses. I’m not sure it’ll benefit from its Friday night slot, up against CSI: NY and mystery-related Fringe. Also, NBC has done fantasy before (Merlin, Heroes), with Merlin not going very far and Heroes hitting dirt after a great 1st season. But I know that we’ll see a complete season. I don’t think it’ll be in danger of being cut off during the year. I do think it’ll do better than its lead-in Chuck, however.

Prime Suspects
Predict: Renewed 2nd season; NBC’s Best New Fall & 2nd Best New Series; 8.5 million viewers

I’m not okay with Prime Suspects taking over the coveted Thursday 10pm slot. I’m not okay with the premise of this show. I feel like the show came straight out of Lifetime (as opposed to England). But I think the show will be successful. There’s nothing like it during its timeslot (It’ll be tough with The Mentalist and Private Practice, but women will want to see it). I think it’ll make for an interesting show, and though I don’t like it taking such a historically great timeslot, the show (in my opinion) will do well here. I see this as the better version of just-cancelled Chase.

The Playboy Club
Predict: Complete season run; not be renewed; 7.5 million viewers

So, Man Men has turned NBC and ABC (Pan Am) into copycats. It only took them a few years. Okay, so take away all the negativity that comes from the word “Playboy” and just look at the show critically. It does look good. Now, saying that, it will tank. One reason is we’ll see the resurgence of parental controls on kids and perhaps, for the first times, husbands. Second reason is that affiliates will not be happy about this show preceding their newscasts. Already one affiliate dropped (but re-added) the show. Third reason is people will be offended, and don’t really want to be associated with watching the show. And lastly, the main reason people won’t watch this show is because when men find out that there’s no nudity, they’ll probably filter out. I think with the timeslot it has, it’ll start off well, but the hatred against it will convince NBC not to renew it. Plus, I see Arrested Development again, where advertisers don’t want to be associated with the product.

New Shows (Mid-Season/Alternative Programming)

These shows are coming later, so I will analyze them more in-depth when more information (timeslot, opposing shows, etc.) is attainable and mid-season gets closer.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Predict: The show just looks…ug. I see cancellation before it finishes its run. Or…I can see NBC using the “Love Bites” strategy (a.k.a. hold it off until summer).


Predict: I’m excited for this show. Seriously excited. A mix of Inception and Law and Order, already honored by the Critics Choice Awards as one of the eight Most Exciting New Series. My only concern is how they’ll pace the series. The Event and Heroes started off pretty well and veered off when the pacing (and interest) went south. I think the show has a great premise, and I’m calling this NBC’s Best New Series. I just hope the story arc won’t get old fast.


Predict: Didn’t laugh once in the previews. Not original. Like like Amanda Peet and Jeffery Tampor. But…no.

Fear Factor

Predict: It’ll come back next season. I guarantee it. Ratings won’t matter…that much. Cheap entertainment: the NBC way.


Predict: Another show among the Top 8 New Series voted on by the Critics Choice Awards. I look forward to how the adult version of “Glee” will work. However, I’m concerned that it will just drag on. Kids can deal with the ridiculous plotlines of Glee. I don’t know if Smash can do the same thing to keep their audience captivated. And even so, what would be the premise of the 2nd season: a whole new play with a whole new cast with a whole new enemy? Meh. However, I see huge success for season one.

The Sing-Off

Predict: A full fall season order against Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Terra Nova (hot new show on FOX), House (FOX), How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Two and A Half Man (CBS), Mike and Molly (CBS), and Gossip Girl (the only time I’ll include CW…because Gossip Girl would take a good portion of that demographic) on a Monday evening? NBC must be crazy. I see an epic meltdown. Unless somebody…anybody can explain why this works.

The Voice

Predict: I’m calling it. The X Factor is FOX’s new American Idol. The Voice will just take over American Idol’s winning time-slot. With The Voice scheduled to run after the Super Bowl, NBC’s time for the Super Bowl could not have come at a better time! The Voice was NBC’s #1 rated show of the year, and the #3 rated show in the country (excluding NBC’s Sunday Night Football). Chances are, they’ll be the 2nd-rated show in the country (behind X Factor) after the Super Bowl. Yes, I predict that The Voice (if they don’t screw it up) will surpass American Idol.

Best Friends Forever, The Firm, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, Brain Williams Magazine, Fashion Star

Predict: Not enough of a preview to see if this show will be successful or not.

Estimate 2011-12 NBC Fall Rankings

Rank Show (*: new)
#1 The Office
#2 Parenthood
#3 Parks and Recreation
#4 Law and Order: SVU
#5 Prime Suspects*
#6 The Playboy Club*
#7 30 Rock
#8 Free Agents*
#9 Up All Night*
#10 Community
#11 Whitney*
#12 Harry’s Law
#13 Grimm*
#14 Chuck

3 thoughts on “The 2011-2012 NBC Fall Schedule

  1. Parks and Recreation is fantastic especially with next season them showing Tammy #1.

    Law & Order: SVU has so much excitement surrounding it! Mariska will be in every episode and they bring back many actors such as Stephanie March and Diane Neal who played ADA’s Alexandra Cabot and Casey Novak. They will lose some fans right off the back but I’m personally rooting for it to stay strong with just a new twist on the storylines we love.

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