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NBC Upfront Roundup

NBC continues to capitalize on what the Masked Scheduler (who used to schedule for them and FOX) calls his third commandment of TV, one of 12 reflecting what shows succeed. Viewers want relatable, sympathetic, competent, and funny characters. Throw in more reality, three fall premieres, and a true “One Chicago” night, NBC is the network to watch this fall.

Two years ago NBC saw so much critical and ratings success in This is Us, they gave it a two season renewal. However, neither fall drama (The BraveLaw and Order) received a renewal, and only one spring drama (Good Girls) did! With The Brave, I think networks overestimated the country in response to the election and “middle America” in a way that ABC did not with Roseanne. It died. As did Rise.

Of the comedies, Will and Grace of course received a renewal, as did AP Bio. Bye Champions. Oh and NBC picked up Brooklyn 99, which its studio produces.

2018-2019 Pickups

With B99, they ordered eight shows, the same as last year, and the are the only network to stay steady on orders. They actually ordered New Amsterdam, the only medical series of the year. Since NBC won the ratings race with the Olympics this current season, I’m intrigued to see how all the new shows will do with a winter AGT in the mix.

(FYI: Titles link to trailers as available at the time of writing.)

Dramas (5)

All are inclusively led which is awesome. New Amsterdam, about Bellevue Hospital’s new medical director, has a great cast. No way to tell if it’ll do as well as Good Doctor, and NBC already has two medical shows (Night Shift just ended), but I’ll watch the pilot for Anupam Kher (Bollywood dad!) and Freema Agyeman alone. Plus, I really enjoyed the trailer. What we saw made me feel like there’s something there. Behind it, This is Us has a good chance to rate well. The ‘lead is dying’ premise is definitely overdone, but I like how he fired everyone who is too busy focusing on their pocketbooks, though! If only that’s how our healthcare system actually worked right?

Lost-esque Manifest, inspired by missing plane stories, follows the Montego Air Flight 828 landing after a turbulent and routine flight. Except in a few hours, the rest of the world moved forward five years!  Cue their return and related drama that inevitably ensues after something like this occurs. Manifest has an added layer of drama because no one can figure out how the plane disappeared if it never left the air. How did five years pass? Even weirder is that two of our leads, brother and sister duo, can hear voices. Aliens? Government conspiracy?

I’m intrigued and if it does well I’ll try it out since I never saw Lost and won’t need to worry about comparisons.

Held for midseason are the CIA, cop, and This is Us in an apartment shows.

Jennifer Carpenter’s The Enemy Within is something we’ve seen in a variety of ways. She’s an ex-CIA operative, now traitor, brought in to catch a dangerous criminal! So…a lady Blacklist, sorta. It has a great cast and if not written terribly might hook the audience in the spring. Plus, if NBC schedules it behind The Blacklist, it could serve as the replacement.

A second procedural, The InBetween (mid-season), is the next Ghost Whisperer. Our lead can communicate with dead people and reluctantly starts helping her Detective friend and his new FBI Agent partner. An interesting combination of a new partner-cop/non-cop duo story, but do we need another Ghost Whisperer solving crimes? I don’t know.

The one NBC show I am super excited to see is The Village which follows an apartment where everyone knows and cares about each other. Lorraine Toussaint is an immediate must-see for me. My only critique is that they should have cast an actor with a physical mobility disability. They exist and it’s beyond time that TV get with it when it comes to characters who have all types of disabilities (visible or not).

Comedies (3)

We’ve got a show led by an Indian woman! I Feel Bad stars Sarayu Blue as Emet, the perfect mom, boss, friend, etc. Except she’s bad at everything and is figuring it out just like us. I generally don’t watch comedies, but NBC won me over with TGP.  Surprisingly, I found myself laughing watching the trailer. But this is the kind of comedy that either crashes and burns or somehow makes it big (enough for a comedy in 2018). So I’ll watch the pilot and then I’ll wait until its renewed.

Then in midseason Abby’s, led by Natalie Morales, follows Abby’s backyard bar and all the shenanigans within. It’s shot in front of a live audience, which, while not rare, has mostly been the case for CBS comedies. Also mid season is B99 for thirteen more episodes.

Verdict

NBC is adding a winter version of America’s Got Talent into the mix this season. Only three shows made it to the schedule this fall, so I worry another Reverie situation might occur. Still, I would be shocked if at least four of their newbies don’t survive. I particularly hope I Feel Bad works out because it’s been years since we’ve had an Indian comedy lead. The humor in it is definitely polarizing, but stuff like that happens so who knows. If it comes down to that or Abby’s in the spring, NBC might go with the latter, since Mike Schur has two other shows on air now there.

As for the two medical shows now on NBC, again, who knows? I think New Amsterdam will either make it big like Good Doctor or stabilize at a place that NBC likes enough for year two. After this year’s upfront, even ratings that would indicate failure or success no longer seem to matter. Which, for the mid season shows, is a blessing since four entirely new shows are held for then. Hopefully next year’s mid season does better than this year’s, because most of the shows bit it.

What do y’all think of the shows?


Images courtesy of NBC

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's reading away for her graduate program in anthropology.

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