NBC was the first network to announce their plans for the fall TV season during “Upfront Week” for the TV networks. Despite rightfully cancelling a bevy of shows, they still don’t seem to have added much in the way of what sticks out to me as quality television.

The network has acknowledged that their comedic offerings over the last couple of seasons were failures and, the planned endings of 30 Rock and The Office aside, they canceled seven first or second year sitcoms. I can’t say that viewers will be worse off for their absence. The list of less than funny additions to the funeral pyre that is NBC programming includes Animal Practice, Up All Night, Guys With Kids, Go On and 1600 Penn. I didn’t watch any of the shows but when I caught glimpses of them, I can’t imagine how they got approved as a full series in the first place.

Other sitcoms canceled were Whitney and The New Normal. I know that Whitney was a mediocre-to-really-bad show, but for some reason I couldn’t stop watching. I saw the first episode of The New Normal on On Demand before it officially premiered at the beginning of last season and was so horrified by how bad it was, I wanted to see it canceled before its debut even happened…stunned it made it through the whole season!

 NBC also canceled the news magazine Rock Center with Brian Williams and two dramas, Smash and Deception. I never watched any of the shows, but in the case of the dramas, heard little if any praise for them. The symphonic cacophony of derision for them was amazing however.

Now that we’ve got the cancellation business out of the way, let’s take a look at the new schedule we have to allegedly look forward to. Let me just say that I didn’t watch many shows on NBC last season and that won’t change all that much in the fall.

MONDAY

8/7c: The Voice
10/9c: The Blacklist

I know that my dream to see the airwaves excised of all music competition shows will not come true, so the return of the highly rated The Voice isn’t a surprise, just a disappointment that so many people watch this claptrap. For those of you trying to follow the revolving door of who is and is not coming back to be a judge on the show, good luck. There are about 4 different stories out there about it and I just do not care to indulge.

NBC is banking on the ratings of The Voice to carry over to the premiere of their new drama series The Blacklist. Imagine James Spader as the world’s most wanted man, and then imagine him surrendering to authorities out of the blue and embarking on a quest to help them take down all the bad guys on a “black list” he’s compiled over the years. But he’ll only work with a relatively young and inexperienced agent for reasons no one but he knows.

The show might initially remind you of a darker version of the USA Network show White Collar, but after watching the extended trailer for the show, I’m definitely checking this series out and being cautiously optimistic. I want this to be a good show, but the greatness of the trailer for the first episode could turn out to be a worst case scenario like what happened with the Fox series The Following – great premise, excellent first episode, then peters out into complete shambles and dropped halfway through the first season by me. But for a change, I’m going to be moving forward with a positive outlook for the show.

Fair warning, if you check out the trailer below, be aware that you are pretty much going to understand the entire first episode.

TUESDAY
8/7c: The Biggest Loser
9/8c: The Voice
10/9c: Chicago FireChicago Fire - Season Pilot

The network counter-programs against the CBS ratings juggernaut with a weight loss reality show, a singing reality show and NBC’s most successful new show of the past season.

There isn’t much I can say about The Biggest Loser and The Voice beyond that I don’t watch either show. Chicago Fire moves to a new night. I know the show is well liked but I wasn’t interested in trying it out during its first season and I don’t see that changing for Season 2.

I think it will be interesting to see if the show can maintain its viewership amid the time slot change as NBC uses their Monday 10pm slot to launch another new series.

WEDNESDAY
8/7c: Revolution
9/8c: Law & Order: SVU
10/9c: Ironside

Revolution gets a new time slot and kicks off the night for NBC. When the show premiered this past season, I gave it a trial run despite my feelings of dread with the show’s JJ Abrams pedigree. It started off decently but quickly grew irritating and I fell behind by a few episodes. Then it went on that extended hiatus and I ended up not catching up. For me, it was just spiraling down too silly of a path and I had to stop watching.

SVU is back for another season and despite Pop-topia’s own Kayode Kendall espousing that the show should pack it in, I find it entertaining week in and week out. I just wish they’d remember to have Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch on the show more.

Ironside, the old Raymond Burr 1967-1975 series gets a remake with Blair Underwood strapping himself into the lead role and the wheelchair. I don’t know what to make of the show and might check out the pilot in order to make up my mind. I guess it would be good to hope that they do a better job with this remake than NBC did a couple seasons ago with Prime Suspect, which was a major failure.

THURSDAY
8/7c: Parks and Recreation
8:30/7:30c: Welcome to the Family
9/8c: Sean Saves the World
9:30/8:30c: The Michael J. Fox Show
10/9c: Parenthood

It is an all new night for what used to be the “Must See TV” evening for NBC. Parks and Recreation has a new time and Parenthood (somewhat of a surprise renewal) has a new night and time.

Sean Saves the World - Season 1

Sean Saves the World

In between those two shows are three new sitcoms. Welcome to the Family stars Mike O’Malley, Mary McCormack and Ricardo Chavira in what is billed as a “mixed-marriage culture clash”. Let the white people traditions versus the Latino traditions hilarity ensue. I don’t plan on watching this show but I do like Mary McCormack and the trailer does hit the high points to be considered amusing.

Sean Saves The World is a bad title for a sitcom and it stars Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) whom I find desperately unfunny. That’s two strikes against the show, and if you watch the bland and “I didn’t so much as even crack a smile” trailer you’ll see why I think this could be one of the first shows canceled in the fall.

For all my mild ranting against sitcoms, I actually do want to like them. I simply find that the ones I consider to be quality (or at least bad but funny, I’m looking at you CBS’ 2 Broke Girls) are few and far between each other. I may be a serious minded guy but I would love to be laughing right along with everyone else, and I think I may just have that new addition to my sitcom watch list in The Michael J. Fox Show. Sure it isn’t the most original title, but bringing Fox back to NBC comedy is a good move after he proved his dramatic chops the last couple of years as a recurring guest star on the CBS drama The Good Wife.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect to add the show to my list but then I watched the trailer and was chuckling my fool’s head off. The laughter I had was the first thing that made me put the show on my list and the second was actress Juliette Goglia playing Fox’s daughter on the show. I’ve been a fan of hers since she played “Little Girl God” on Joan of Arcadia and I’ve seen her in a bunch of other roles as well. She’s grown up now and I’m hoping to see great things from her in the show. But the centerpiece is Michael J. Fox obviously and he’s not lost his comedic touch. I am really hoping for great things for this show.

FRIDAY
8/7c: Dateline NBC
9/8c: Grimm
10/9c: Dracula

The long running Dateline NBC news magazine leads off the night and then the network becomes “Supernatural Friday” with the returning Grimm and the new Dracula series.

It is also a night where I won’t be turning the channel to NBC. I have a co-worker that loves Grimm but the charm of the series doesn’t extend to me. And Dracula? Yet another vampire show? ENOUGH ALREADY!

SUNDAY

NBC doesn’t air anything on Saturday and Sunday is devoted to the NFL season through December/January.

MIDSEASON

The Family Guide - Season Pilot

The Family Guide

While most of the shows will stay in the same spots throughout the entire 2013-2014 season, there are a few changes planned from the outset.

TUESDAY
8/7c: The Voice
9/8c: About a Boy
9:30/8:30c: The Family Guide
10/9c: Chicago Fire

When The Biggest Loser ends, The Voice will move into the 8pm time slot and two new comedies will fill the 9pm hour.

About A Boy is an adaptation of the book and movie of the same name.

The Family Guide is about a boy who idolizes his blind father and deals with his mother after a divorce.

FRIDAY
8/7c: Dateline NBC
9/8c: Grimm
10/9c: Crossbonescrossbones

With a 10 episode season and John Malkovich reportedly set to star as Blackbeard, the pirate drama will take over the Friday 1opm slot from Dracula. The following is a description of the series taken from a news post on TVGuide.com: “Set in 1715 in the Bahamas, the series revolves around the first functioning democracy in the Americas, with Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard) ruling over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. It comes from Luther creator Neil Cross and is based on Colin Woodard’s book The Republic of Pirates.”

SUNDAY
7/6c: Dateline NBC
8/7c: American Dream Builders
9/8c: Believe
10/9c: Crisis

When football ends, Dateline NBC will add a second night to their schedule, followed by American Dream Builders. Two new dramas will round out the night.

Believe - Season Pilot

JJ Abrams’ “Believe”

Believe is a JJ Abrams *groan* (Editor’s Note: Not everyone at Pop-Topia dislikes Abrams) produced series about a young girl with a “gift” and the ex-con just out of prison who ends up protecting her from the forces of evil out to potentially do her harm. Only on TV could an ex-con get out of prison and end up with a young girl and not BE the one who is the force of evil out to do her arm. Is it just me or does the premise sound remarkably similar to the Fox show Touch?

Crisis tells the tale of the most powerful people in Washington, up to and including the president, finding themselves being blackmailed into an “international conspiracy”. The FBI and a rookie Secret Service agent try to save the day.

There is no trailer yet available but this might be a promising new show if it is done seriously and with forethought as to coherent storytelling.

Final Thoughts –

Community was renewed for another season, but there is no mention of when or where the show will end up airing.

Last season, I watched 2 series on the NBC network. This season one got canceled and SVU is back. I did add two new shows to my watch list in The Blacklist and The Michael J. Fox Show so that is at least a small move in the right direction. The possibility of adding two more shows (Ironside and Crisis, if I like the pilots) shows that there may be hope for NBC yet.

However, the network is still floundering with the majority of their sitcom offerings. I wish they’d try to be funny in an original manner instead of just being a derivative of what has come many times before.

They seem to be doing better in the drama department, even if the majority of them are shows I either don’t watch or tried out and dropped. Each of those shows does seem to have a fervent following that keeps them alive in the scheduling.

It is good to see NBC still in there battling to become “Must See TV” again. They’ve got a ways to go yet, but I think they may finally be taking bigger steps in the right direction…even if that means JJ Abrams has two shows on the network.