NBC has had a rough year. It started the 2012-2013 TV season strong, thanks to The Voice being a great lead-in for Revolution and Go On, but by spring, the network had fallen into fifth place. Yes, fifth. After the three other major networks and even Spanish-language network Univision.
Clearly, the network is in desperate need of a win, but its Thursday night comedy block has been its major night for decades. While Thursday night hasn't been the ratings powerhouse it used to be (we all miss the '90s), more recently the schedule has developed a reputation as the place to find smart, single-camera comedies that are beloved by critics, awards show voters and their small, devoted fanbases.
Unfortunately, coming in fifth has rattled NBC enough to completely give up on its current Thursday night model. Now that The Office and 30 Rock have ended and Community has been shelved until midseason, Parks and Recreation is the last show standing and will lead an all-new lineup. Here's a look at the trailers for the new comedies taking over NBC's famed timeslot, and the competition they'll have to contend with.
NBC's New Comedies
Welcome to the Family, 8:30 p.m.
This family comedy stars the lovable Mike O'Malley (aka Glee's Burt Hummel) as a dad whose excitement over his daughter graduating high school disappears when she announces that she's pregnant. Coincidentally, her boyfriend's father (played by Desperate Housewives' Ricardo Chavira) is a guy he hates because of something about a boxing gym. The trailer is cute and there are some genuinely funny lines, but the premise can grow tired pretty quickly. Also, that closing scene is cause for concern — no one wants Father of the Bride 2: The TV Show.
Sean Saves the World, 9 p.m.
Another family comedy, this one stars Will & Grace's Sean Hayes who, despite what the title may lead you to believe, is not a superhero of any kind. He's just a divorced, gay, career-focused guy whose teenaged daughter moves in with him for some reason, after having spent her entire life living with her mother. Linda Lavin also shows up as Sean's mom who wants to help but (surprise!), he doesn't want her help. Thrilling stuff huh? Of all the Thursday night shows, this is the one to be least excited about.
The Michael J. Fox Show, 9:30 p.m.
After a rumored bidding war among the networks, Michael J. Fox's TV comeback landed at NBC. The beloved actor plays Mike Henry, a news anchor who left work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but five years later is returning. Yes, it's yet another family comedy, but definitely the most promising one. Fox is great in the trailer and even pokes fun at his own condition. Plus, his family seems entertaining enough to hold their own — especially Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt as his wife.
Parenthood, 10 p.m.
Okay, technically the comedy block ends at 10 p.m., and Parenthood is a returning comedy/drama, but we're just so excited that our favorite show got a fifth season. Guys, the Bravermans are back!
The only new addition to ABC's Thursday night is Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, a drama from the creators of Once Upon A Time. In this retelling of Alice in Wonderland about a young woman in Victorian England who is institutionalized when no one believes her stories about Wonderland, until her friends from the other side of the rabbit hole come to rescue her. Immediately afterwards at 9 p.m. is returning drama Grey's Anatomy. These dramas should draw a different audience than NBC's comedy offerings, so there is some success to be found for the new lineup.
This is where the most competition lies. Up against Parks & Recreation is The Big Bang Theory, which has proven to bring in enormous ratings every week. It's reruns even have impressive numbers. At 8:30 and 9 p.m., however, are two new comedies, The Millers and The Crazy Ones. Both have impressive casts and some potential. Plus, Two and A Half Men still manages to pull in a big audience somehow, and follows them at 9:30. With two more broad comedies sandwiched between its big successes, CBS will most likely take the lead on Thursdays.
There's nothing new for Fox on Thursdays this fall, with The X Factor results show at 8 p.m., followed by Glee. Both shows haven't been performing as well as they used to and if NBC's new shows are up to par, they may be able to at least beat Fox.
The Final Verdict
With so many new shows in the mix, it's hard to tell how Thursday nights will unfold in the fall. The only certainty, unfortunately for NBC, is that CBS will come in first. Simply, nothing is going to beat The Big Bang Theory. That said, NBC could win a small victory — the network has a chance at beating Fox, at least in the 9 p.m. hour, thanks to Michael J. Fox. At the very least, NBC could pick up critical acclaim and has a good shot of coming in third — and that's certainly better than last.