NBC has locked in This Is Us, TV’s No. 1 entertainment show, for three more seasons—and is bringing Melissa McCarthy to the network as the new host of Little Big Shots.
The network made the announcements as it released its 2019-20 schedule this afternoon, ahead of NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation Monday morning. NBC is adding four dramas and four comedies to its lineup, with three of those freshman shows—legal drama Bluff City Law and comedies Perfect Harmony and Sunnyside—debuting this fall.
This is the first schedule from George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, named NBC Entertainment co-chairmen in September following the surprise exit of Robert Greenblatt in March. Greenblatt became chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, where he oversees HBO, TNT, TBS, truTV and the company’s direct-to-consumer business.
NBC looks to have locked up the season victory in the 18-49 for the third straight year, in part because of its fortified unscripted slate. And Sunday Night Football—the No. 1 primetime show this season in the 18-49 demo (with a 6.1 Nielsen most current rating) and in total viewers (19.3 million)—as well as the just-renewed This Is Us, which is the No. 1 entertainment show in the demo with a 3.8 rating, will once again anchor the network’s fall lineup.
The network hasn’t yet determined whether This Is Us’ three-season renewal will take the series to the end of its run. “That’s open for right now,” said Telegdy, adding that the network will defer to creator Dan Fogelman.
This fall, Mondays will kick off with Season 17 of The Voice, with returning coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. The coveted post-Voice time slot goes to new drama Bluff City Law, about a lawyer who ends up back at her estranged father’s law firm (Jimmy Smits) after her mom’s unexpected death.
Tuesday’s lineup is unchanged, with The Voice going into This Is Us, and New Amsterdam capping the evening.
Wednesday remains intact as well, with NBC sticking with its popular all-Chicago lineup: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.
Its Thursday comedies start with Superstore, followed by new comedy Perfect Harmony, starring Bradley Whitford as a former Princeton music professor who crosses paths with a small-town church choir.
The Good Place (which NBC says is the No. 4 entertainment show on its network across all platforms, following This Is Us, Manifest and New Amsterdam) moves to 9 p.m. That will lead into new comedy Sunnyside, starring Kal Penn as the youngest New York City Councilman who fell from grace and is trying to make a comeback.
Cheeks said his and Telegdy’s comedy mandate for the upcoming season was to find new comedies with the potential to be the next Friends and The Office—both which were Netflix’s most-streamed shows last year—”broad, four quadrant comedies that can appeal to everybody.”
Law & Order: SVU ends the night on Thursday.
The Blacklist remains in its Friday 8 p.m. time slot, followed by two hours of Dateline.
Saturdays will be the usual mix of Dateline Saturday Night Mystery, Saturday Night Live encores and live broadcasts of Saturday Night Live in all time zones.
NBC will conclude the week with Sunday Night Football.
Three new dramas and two comedies are being held for midseason. On the drama front, Council of Dads is about a father of four diagnosed with cancer who asks his friends to step in as back-up dads to his kids if he doesn’t live to see them grow up. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist stars Jane Levy as a computer coder who begins to hear the innermost wants and desires of the people around her through songs.
And Lincoln, based on the book The Bone Collector (made into a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie), is about an up-and-coming young female officer who teams with a former NYPD detective to track down the serial killer who was responsible for the accident that left him a quadriplegic.
Midseason freshman comedies include The Kenan Show, in which SNL’s Kenan Thompson (who also executive produce) tries to be a great father to his two girls while also juggling his work and an overbearing father-in-law, played by Andy Garcia.
Telegdy said Thompson will also continue to appear on SNL “every week.” Added Cheeks, “More Kenan on the network is a great thing for all of us.”
There’s also Indebted, in which a young couple with a new family end up taking in the husband’s parents as well (Steven Weber and Fran Drescher).
NBC is holding the following returning shows for midseason: America’s Got Talent: The Champions (which will air in January), Blindspot (which was renewed for one final season), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ellen’s Game of Games, Good Girls, Little Big Shots (with McCarthy stepping in for previous host Steve Harvey), Manifest, The Wall, Will & Grace and World of Dance.
The addition of McCarthy to Little Big Shots is “a real refresh for a brand that has done very well for us,” said Telegdy. “She’ll bring an incredibly fresh perspective to it.”
Cheeks said that holding so many shows for midseason also allows NBC to let shows like Manifest and Will & Grace run interrupted, as opposed to this season’s “staggered run,” which led to ratings declines.
While holding shows for midseason used to indicate that a network wasn’t as high on them, “for us, there are no negatives to a show being launched in midseason on this network,” said Telegdy. “We have enormous marketing resources available to us on a year-long basis,” including Sunday Night Football, the December holiday specials, the Golden Globe Awards and America’s Got Talent: The Champions.
The network said it still hasn’t made a decision of the fate of several current shows, including Abby’s, A.P. Bio, The Enemy Within, The InBetween, The Titan Games and The Village.
“Anything that is still on-air is still under discussion,” said Telegdy.
NBC FALL 2019-20 SCHEDULE (New programs in ALL CAPS)
8-10 p.m. — The Voice
10-11 p.m. — BLUFF CITY LAW
8-9 p.m. — The Voice
9-10 p.m. — This Is Us
10-11 p.m. — New Amsterdam
8-9 p.m. — Chicago Med
9-10 p.m. — Chicago Fire
10-11 p.m. — Chicago P.D.
8-8:30 p.m. — Superstore
8:30-9 p.m. — PERFECT HARMONY
9-9:30 p.m. — The Good Place (new time slot)
9:30-10 p.m. — SUNNYSIDE
10-11 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
8-9 p.m. — The Blacklist
9-11 p.m. — Dateline
8-10 p.m. — Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
10-11 p.m. — Saturday Night Live (classic encores)
7-8:20 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20-11 p.m. — Sunday Night Football
America’s Got Talent: The Champions, Blindspot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, COUNCIL OF DADS, Ellen’s Game of Games, Good Girls, INDEBTED, THE KENAN SHOW, LINCOLN, Little Big Shots, Manifest, The Wall, Will & Grace, World of Dance and ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST