TV Feature: 2011 Fall Network TV Schedule Predictions

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CHICAGO – A week from today - May 16, 2011 - the TV networks will begin the annual unveiling of their fall schedules, and a very-hazy picture will be much clearer by the end of next week. There will be a few miracles, but some hearts will surely be broken. With more programs on the bubble than ever before, what will be renewed and what will be shown the door? Let us guide the way with our fearless predictions, network by network.

NBC (May 16th, 2011):

Update (May 11, 2011): NBC has renewed “Harry’s Law” and canceled “Law & Order: Los Angeles”

Update (May 12, 2011): NBC has (likely) renewed “Chuck”

Update (May 12, 2011): NBC has (likely) renewed “Parenthood”

Photo credit: NBC

Bubble Shows: “Chuck,” “Harry’s Law,” “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” “Outsourced,” & “Parenthood”

The peacock has been one of the most troubled networks for years, a situation deepened by the notorious “The Jay Leno Show” debacle, so it seems appropriate that they’re pushing out of the gate first to reveal what, I expect, will be the most overhauled schedule of the fall season. The fact is that, like most networks, 2010-11 was a bust for NBC with shows like “Outlaw,” “Chase,” “Perfect Couples,” and “The Cape” failing to find an audience. It took almost the entire season for the network to find a new hit program (“The Voice”), but it’s unlikely that the show will return until 2012. So what will Fall 2011 look like on NBC?

We know it will look different, significantly different. “Outlaw,” “Undercovers,” “The Paul Reiser Show,” “Perfect Couples,” and “Chase” have already been given the axe. It is nearly certain that “The Event” and “Law & Order” Los Angeles” (a program that has struggled even more since the overhaul that kicked Skeet Ulrich out the franchise’s notorious revolving door) will join them and the programmers will finally be able to wash their hands of most of the 2010-11 season.

NBC has already renewed their demo-friendly sitcoms on Thursday nights — “Community,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” and “30 Rock”. And it seems likely that they will realize that six comedies on Thursday nights was a mistake and stick with those four renewals, in that order, on the night that NBC used to dominate. It also would be ridiculous if they didn’t renew one of their biggest hits, “Law & Order: SVU.”

What does that leave? The network is left with four real question marks, in order of most-likely-to-be-saved to least-likely: “Parenthood,” “Harry’s Law,” “Chuck,” and “Outsourced.”

With so many programs ripe for cancellation, it raises a big question — could they possibly have that many programs on deck to replace them? Keep in mind — this is the network that aired possibly the most reviled show of the 2010-11 season in “The Paul Reiser Show.” If they’re looking at another program of that quality versus renewing “Outsourced,” they may stick with the devil they know. Even with my projections, they’re going to have to fill five hours of programming with six new shows. That seems like enough for a network unable to find a new hit and could save shows that would otherwise be canceled.

The good news for fans of NBC Monday nights is that, with caution about the annual “Chuck” story, I think that the night will stay the same simply because they have enough to worry about the rest of the week. They may consider moving one of those Monday night shows to Wednesday nights just so they don’t have to fill a complete night of new programming. We’ll know next week. Keep those fingers and toes crossed “Chuck” fans.

Sunday: Reality Programming (Apprentice, America’s Next Great Restaurant, etc.)
Monday: Chuck, Parenthood, Harry’s Law
Tuesday: The Biggest Loser, NEW DRAMA, Law & Order: SVU
Thursday: Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, 30 Rock, NEW DRAMA
Friday: Specials, Dateline NBC
Saturday: Repeats

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