Fall TV: NBC Saves Some Big Hitters for Mid-Season

Half of its new lineup will debut in mid-season, including “Smash,” which will be paired with “The Voice”

Last Updated: May 18, 2011 @ 3:19 PM

NBC's announced a fall lineup Sunday that will include three new dramas and three new comedies, the addition of a Wednesday comedy hour, the cutting of its Thursday comedy block from three to two hours, and the expectation that football will return.

Rather than launch all of its new shows at once, the network opted to hold half of its 12 new shows for midseason, including the split-reality cop drama "Awake," Chelsea Handler's "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea," and "The Firm," a surprise addition to this year's slate that is based on the John Grisham novel and was previously the basis for the Tom Cruise film.

Midseason plans also include pairing "The Voice," the biggest new show of this season, with the music-themed new drama "Smash" on Monday nights.

NBC's decision to save several series for fall continues its strategy for "The Voice": The network introduced the show in April, when it had little new competition from other networks, and it had the biggest debut of the season.

The network will formally present its 2011-12 schedule to its advertisers and their media-buying agencies Monday in New York. The new slate is the first for new NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt as he tries to guide the network out of fourth place.

Greenblatt told TheWrap on Sunday that NBC was taking a "marathon" approach by not debuting all of the new shows it ordered last week at once. Instead, it will save some potential big guns for midseason.

"30 Rock," NBC's perennial Emmy farm, will also return in midseason.

NBC plans on a Sunday night of football, despite continuing labor issues that could derail the season. Greenblatt said the network is optimistic that the NFL season will happen, and that the network is planning several "high-quality, live-event, reality-type shows" in the event that the season starts late.

"Chuck," returning for its final 13 episodes, scored the unenviable 8 p.m. Friday slot, followed by the new drama "Grimm," a cop drama set in a world where fairy-tale characters are real.

"I'm really proud that we have a number of new shows that are distinctive and original and are not cookie-cutter shows that you could find on other networks," Greenblatt said. "They have a strong conceptual hook, and I just think … the more attention-getting we can be, the more of a chance we have of turning things around."

He also said NBC would replace Donald Trump, who is considering a presidential run, on "The Celebrity Apprentice" if necessary. But he said he hoped Trump would be available for the show.

Here's the full schedule:

*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-10 p.m. – “The Sing-Off”
10-11 p.m. – “THE PLAYBOY CLUB”
8-10 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood”
8-8:30 p.m. – “UP ALL NIGHT”
8:30-9 p.m. – “FREE AGENTS”
9-10 p.m. — “Harry’s Law”
10-11 p.m. — “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
8-8:30 p.m. – “Community”
8:30-9 p.m. — “Parks and Recreation”
9-9:30 p.m. – “The Office”
9:30-10 p.m. – “WHITNEY”
10-11 p.m. – “PRIME SUSPECT”
8-9 p.m. – “Chuck”
9-10 p.m. – “GRIMM”
10-11 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
Encore programming
7- 8:15 p.m. — "Football Night in America"
8:15-11:30 p.m. — "NBC Sunday Night Football"
*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
7-8 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
8-10 p.m. – “The Celebrity Apprentice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE FIRM”
8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “SMASH”