NBC is cutting back on the number of repeats on its schedule next season, offering up fall and midseason lineups that aim to have as much new programming on the air as possible.
The new schedule includes "Heroes" moving to an earlier time in the fall, a crime-show block on Friday nights with "Law & Order" and "Southland" — and, of course, "The Jay Leno Show" every weeknight at 10 ET. It also has a number of shows sharing time periods: "Heroes," for instance, will air at 8 p.m. ET Mondays in the fall, while "Chuck" will take over at midseason. The Winter Olympics, which run from Feb. 12-28, will likely provide the breaking point between the two schedules.
There will be season-long continuity on several nights, aside from Leno's prime-time show. The network's Thursday comedy block will remain pretty much intact, with newcomer "Community" joining "Parks and Recreation," "The Office" and "30 Rock." "Law & Order: SVU" will move to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and remain there throughout the season, as will the "L&O"-"Southland" duo on Fridays.
Gone from NBC's airwaves are a pair of veteran shows, "My Name Is Earl" and "Medium." They may not be entirely dead, though — there have been rumors that other networks might pick them up (ABC and FOX for "Earl," CBS for "Medium").
On the NBC conference call Tuesday, NBC's Ben Silverman explained that the network canceled the shows that were "aging as we're getting younger" and that it stuck with the failing "Southland" and "Parks and Recreation" because "Quality makes you more patient." By quality, he admits he means that despite the iffy performance ratings-wise, the shows either had critical support and/or advertising interest.
Of fan favorite "Chuck's" 11th-hour renewal, Silverman credited the online campaigns, Subway (which is now an ad partner) and fans who sent him "more Nerds than anyone can consume in a lifetime," all of which made the decision to renew "easy" after the show's on the bubble status at the infront.
Although initial speculation that the number of "Chuck" episodes was reduced to keep production costs low, Silverman claims, "We're not looking to lower the cost in any way" and says the network could extend the show past 13 episodes into more original episodes in the summer.
Comedy is also a big part of NBC's strategy, not only with Leno taking over each night, but with "Saturday Night Live" doing a few Thursday editions in the fall and stars from the Thursday comedies popping up on "SNL" or Leno, creating a never-ending laugh loop. Of its newest comedy starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, Silverman says, "We believe we struck gold with 'Community.'"
Lots was said, but very little made sense, about "The Biggest Loser" getting a good chunk of the schedule. "It's the clear alternative to 'American Idol' this quarter and I think it has the opportunity to be the winner this fall," says Silverman.
NBC also empasized it's aiming for a 52-week schedule of original programming since "repeats don't work anymore" (then why all the encore airings?) and how the Winter Olympics will create a dual-season strategy.