NBC to Revive 'Must See TV' Branding This Fall

by Marc Berman  |  05.14.2017

NBC is hoping to reintroduce its iconic brand of Thursday night “Must See TV” via the revival of sitcom Will & Grace into season two of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s Great News, a new night for sophomore smash This Is Us, and new limited series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers.

In all, the network will introduce 12 new series throughout the 2017-18 TV season. The breakdown is five new scripted dramas, three new scripted sitcoms, and four new non-scripted entries.

Only three new series are scheduled for this fall: Monday 10 p.m. drama The Brave out of The Voice; and the aforementioned Will & Grace and Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers on Thursday. But the network is shifting five series into new timeslots: comedies Superstore and The Good Place in the Tuesday 9 p.m. hour; The Blacklist leading off Wednesday at 8 p.m.; and dramas Blindspot into Taken in the Friday 8-10 p.m. block. That means programming changes will be visible each weekday night.

No broadcast net is expected to be aggressive on Saturday, and top-rated Sunday Night Football, of course, will cap off the week for NBC this fall. So, the plan is to a) jumpstart Thursday; b) capitalize on the strength of lead-in The Voice into The Brave and the relocated Tuesday comedies; c) inject interest on Wednesday with The Blacklist; and d) use returning crime-themed dramas on Friday to compete with CBS’ already-proven brand.

The new series slated for midseason are comedies A.P. Bio and Champions; dramas Good Girls, Reverie and The Rise; and non-scripted entries The Awesome Show, Ellen’s Game of Games, Genius Junior and The Handmaid Project.

The Spin

“Coming off another stabilizing year, which included the launch of one of the great new dramas in a decade, our upcoming fall schedule is both limited in the number of new series and aggressive in rebooting Thursday night,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment in a statement. “To create another undeniable night of television, we’re aligning some of our most potent shows on Thursday in order to bring back ‘Must See TV.’ We are also strategically deploying strong new shows in choice time periods on other nights and nurturing our growing comedy lineup.

“To do all that you have to have the goods, and our development teams headed by Presidents Jennifer Salke and Paul Telegdy once again delivered new scripted and unscripted shows that are among the best on television,” added Greenblatt. “From fall to midseason to summer, we will be programming robustly so as to achieve a record amount of original programming all year long. And when you add the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and the balance of our unprecedented sports franchises, we expect to remain the leading broadcast network by virtually every measure.”

The Reality

Well aware of its sitcom shortcomings, NBC is wise to use The Voice to try to spike interest in a Tuesday comedy brand. And bringing back Will & Grace to help reestablish “Must See TV” should be an improvement. But what sparked the revival of Will & Grace was Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reuniting for a presidential- election themed YouTube clip last fall.

That video, which attracted more than 7 million viewers and counting, did not ultimately have to face TV’s top-rated sitcom, The Big Bang Theory on CBS, which is likely to remain intact after Thursday Night Football, and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC.

Moving a sophomore series, even one as big as drama This Is Us in season two (which will have added exposure out of the Super Bowl in February 2018), is always a risk. Remember what happened to once red-hot The Blacklist when it moved to Thursday smack in the middle of season two? The new Law & Order series is only eight episodes and the Will & Grace reunion is only 12. A better plan on Tuesday might have been to give a new sitcom the plum 9 p.m. half-hour instead of Superstore, which will never be the mass appeal hit NBC needs. That, of course, is dependent on the strength of NBC’s development, which we haven’t seen yet.

Still, fans remain excited about This Is Us, as they express in this season-2 trailer NBC released on Monday:

The network also released the first full-length trailer for the new Will & Grace:

Moving This Is Us off of Tuesday nights could also negatively impact returning Chicago Fire at 10 p.m. While more potential success for This Is Us on Thursday—not to mention moving Blindspot and Taken to Friday where they will compete with probable CBS returnees MacGyver and Hawaii Five-O— may offset any losses on Tuesday, the success – or lack of – at NBC remains dependent on Sunday Night Football and twice weekly The Voice. With no expected major audience losses for either franchise, NBC is poised for more dominance in adults 18-49 and all the key young adult demographics this fall.

What follows is NBC’s programming line-up this fall (with new shows in caps), followed by new series descriptions:


8:00 p.m. The Voice

10:00 p.m. THE BRAVE


8:00 p.m. The Voice

9:00 p.m. Superstore (new day and time)

9:30 p.m. The Good Place (new day and time)

10:00 p.m. Chicago Fire


8:00 p.m. The Blacklist (new day and time)

9:00 p.m. Law & Order; SVU

10:00 p.m. Chicago PD


8:00 p.m. WILL & GRACE (return)

8:30 p.m. Great News

9:00 p.m. This Is Us (new day)



8:00 p.m. Blindspot (new day)

9:00 p.m. Taken (new day and time)

10:00 p.m: Dateline


8:00 p.m. Dateline: Saturday Night Mystery (repeat)

10:00 p.m. Saturday Night Live (repeat)


7:00 p.m. Football Night in America

8:20 p.m. Sunday Night Football

New Program Descriptions


The Brave

From Keshet Studios and Avi Nir (executive producer of Showtime’s 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 bond and commitment to freedom to save lives of innocent people and execute missions in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

The cast includes Anne Heche, Mike Vogel, Sofia Pernas, Tate Ellington, Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse, Noah Mills and Hadi Tabbal.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/the-brave

Good Girls (midseason)

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 executing 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.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/good-girls

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers

Starring Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie), this eight-episode true-crime installment of the Law & Order franchise delivers a gripping in-depth dramatization of the notorious murder case. 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 truth of what really went down when the cameras stopped rolling.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/law-and-order-true-crime-menendez

Reverie (midseason)

From Mickey Fisher, the creator of Extant, this new thriller follows Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), a former hostage negotiator and expert on human behavior who became a college professor after facing a 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.

Rise (midseason)

From Jason Katims, writer and executive producer of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller comes a 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.

Official Show site: http://www.nbc.com/rise


A.P. Bio (midseason)

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).

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/ap-bio

Champions (midseason)

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.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/champions

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. James Burrows, director of every original Will & Grace episode, returns along with a slew of razor-sharp jabs and dirty martinis.

The cast includes Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/will-and-grace


The Awesome Show (midseason)

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.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/the-awesome-show

Ellen’s Game of Games (midseason)

Ellen DeGeneres returns to primetime to host a new game show that’s one big party! Featuring super-sized versions of 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. One lucky contestant will get the chance to win the grand prize, but everyone will have a blast!

Official show site: at http://www.nbc.com/ellens-game-of-games

Genius Junior (midseason)

No stranger to young geniuses, Neil Patrick Harris hosts this new game show that celebrates the smartest kids in America. These talented “genius juniors” will team up to take on 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.

Official show site: http://www.nbc.com/genius-jr

The Handmade Project (midseason)

From executive producer and host Amy Poehler and co-host Nick Offerman (who starred together in Parks & Rec) comes a 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 outdoors, this 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.

← Back

New from Daily Brief

Chip Returns to Venice in Season 2 of ‘Flaked’
His web of lies becomes more tangled as he tries to move on from the past.
ABC’s Marla Provencio to Receive PromaxBDA Lifetime Achievement Award
Longtime marketing executive will be honored June 5 at PromaxBDA: The Conference in Los Angeles.
Clone Sisters Fight for Freedom in Final Season of ‘Orphan Black’
The sestras must face off against Rachel in BBC America’s action-packed promo.
Creative Review: La Comunidad
Incorporating American and Argentinian cultures has led to major campaigns in both countries.
Nat Geo Partners with Mini Countryman for Integrated Branded Spot
Promo by 2C Creative ties together upcoming series "America’s Natural Parks,” sweepstakes for show and new Mini Countryman car.
Creative Review: La Comunidad
La incorporación de la cultura americana y argentina que derivó en grandes campañas en ambos países.
Jun 5
The Conference 2017
Jun 8
PromaxBDA Promotion, Marketing and Design North America Awards 2017
Jun 8
PromaxBDA Promotion, Marketing and Design Global Excellence Awards 2017
Jun 19
Station Summit 2017
Jun 22
The PromaxBDA Awards at Station Summit
FG|PG Advertisement Power Your Career Advertisement