NBC has announced that they’re revamping their Upfronts presentation in May. Unlike past years, they’ll be unveiling a 52-week, year-round primetime schedule. Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal, said, “This new approach gives our clients an early look at NBC’s scheduling strategy and allows us to showcase the full suite of creative advertising solutions and customized services that NBC Universal is uniquely positioned to provide to the marketplace.” Despite this new approach, the network will still be forced to replace shows that aren’t performing. What’s the status of the current crop?
Last week, NBC announced some early renewals for the 2008-09 season. Unlike the other networks, they’ve just handed out a few. To no great surprise, NBC has announced that Heroes is coming back for another season. Joining it are freshman dramas Life and Chuck. None of them will be back with new episodes this season. Another round of the celebrity version of The Apprentice was ordered last month for a 2009 premiere. American Gladiators has been renewed as well. Where does this all leave the rest of the peacock network’s current programs?
30 Rock — The series has resumed production on new episodes for this season and they will start airing on April 10th. Network co-chair Ben Silverman is a big fan and the sitcom is expected to be renewed for season three.
Bionic Woman — All eight episodes of the low-rated drama have aired and the show won’t go back into production to complete the season. Show staff members were informed of the cancellation last week. Jaime Sommers has gone to the scrap heap.
Deal or No Deal — The reality series was unaffected by the writers strike and continues to be a staple for the network’s schedule. It’ll be back next year for sure but, how long until NBC kills the show with overexposure?
ER — Additional episodes of the venerable drama are being created for this season and will start airing on April 10th. Despite sagging ratings, NBC was reportedly in negotiations with the studio to cut costs so that they could bring ER back for season 15. EOnline recently reported rumors that the staff of County General will indeed be back for another year.
Friday Night Lights — The Panthers won’t be returning with any more episodes this season. In fact, despite a devoted core audience, it looks highly unlikely that Friday Night Lights will be back for another year on NBC. There are discussions that the show may be continued on another channel (perhaps Bravo or USA) or that the series could be concluded with a two-hour movie.
Journeyman — All 13 episodes have aired and, back in December, NBC passed up its chance to go back into production for more. It’s not coming back next season.
Las Vegas — The final episode of the series’ fifth season aired last Friday. Due to the writers strike, only 19 episodes were produced and there won’t be any more this season. The ratings have dropped this season so, if it is renewed, NBC will likely start with a 13 episode order.
Law & Order — Additional episodes are on the way for this season and will begin airing on April 23rd. The venerable crime show has been performing pretty well and builds on its lead-in. I suspect it will be back for season 19 but, if it does, it will be without longtime castmember Jesse L. Martin. The actor is currently negotiating his exit from the series.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — As is the case with the original L&O, additional episodes are on the way for later this season, set to kick-off on April 15th. SVU has been doing well so it looks like it will be back next season.
Lipstick Jungle — This new drama-comedy had a 13 episode order but, because of the writers strike, only seven were produced. The show’s not going back into production. Ratings for the first two episodes haven’t been good so, unless things improve, it’s probably not coming back for a second season.
Medium — The Patricia Arquette series has gone back into production for more episodes now that the writers strike is finished. It’s been performing pretty well this season, usually coming in first for 18-49 viewers in its timeslot. It’s likely to return, probably midseason or earlier.
My Name is Earl — More episodes are on the way for this season and it will surely be back for year four. It will return on April 3rd with a one-hour episode.
The Office — Additional episodes are being produced for this season (starting April 10th) and it’s a cornerstone of the network’s Thursday night schedule. It’ll be back next year.
Scrubs — It was already decided that season seven would be the sitcom’s last. Only 11 of the 18 episode order have been produced and they’ll start April 10th. There’s been no word if NBC will pay for the show to go back into production but executive producer Bill Lawrence maintains that the series will be wrapped up somehow. The as-yet unfilmed episodes could debut on ABC (Disney produces the show) or on DVD.