NBC's fall schedule: Jimmy Smits, Kal Penn and Bradley Whitford headline new shows

NBC is making few changes to its fall schedule, adding just two comedies and a lone drama as it banks on “Sunday Night Football,” “The Voice” and a trio of “Chicago” dramas. The conservative lineup – fueled by NBC’s top-rated status among its target young-adult audience – relocates just one comedy, “The Good Place,” to an anchor position at 9 EDT/PDT on Thursdays, and returns Tuesday’s “The Voice” episode to 9. 

But fans of “Manifest,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Will and Grace,” “Good Girls” and “Blindspot” will have to wait for their returns: The five series won’t be back until midseason (“Brooklyn” for just 13 episodes), along with five more new shows. 

New for fall: Jimmy Smits (“L.A. Law,” “How to Get Away with Murder”) stars in “Bluff City Law,” a family legal drama set in Memphis, Tennessee, in which a widowed father and his daughter reunite to fight social injustice.

Onetime NBC star Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) returns in comedy “Perfect Harmony,” as a former Princeton music professor who takes over a small-town church choir.  And Kal Penn co-created and stars in “Sunnyside,” about a disgraced New York City councilman who becomes an advocate for a group of immigrants dreaming of American citizenship.  

As expected, the network renewed its top-rated series “This Is Us” for fourth, fifth and sixth seasons, which creator Dan Fogelman expects will mark the end of its run. (NBC won’t commit to an end date). The fifth season of “Blindspot” will be its last. The network won’t confirm the fate of “The Village” and “The Enemy Within” while both shows continue to air new episodes, but “AP Bio,” “Abby’s,” “I Feel Bad” and “Midnight, Texas” are not expected to return. Among reality series, “World of Dance” and “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” will be back, along with a new edition of “Little Big Shots,” hosted by Melissa McCarthy, and “Ellen’s Game of Games.”

For midseason, also look for “The Kenan Show,” a family comedy starring Kenan Thompson, who will keep his night job on “Saturday Night Live”; “Indebted,” starring Adam Pally as a married man whose broke parents (his mom is played by Fran Drescher) move in; “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” starring Jane Levy (“Suburgatory”) as a San Francisco computer coder; “Council of Dads,” about a man who seeks parenting backup from four pals following a health scare; and “Lincoln,” a drama starring Russell Hornsby inspired by best-selling novel “The Bone Collector.” 

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NBC has been reliant on procedural dramas including the “Chicago” trio, “Law Order: SVU” (which has just surpassed the original “Law Order” as the longest-running series in the franchise) and “The Blacklist.”  Its comedies “Brooklyn,” “Good Place” and “Superstore” are less popular but have larger digital audiences and give the network a creative sheen thanks to loyal fans and friendly critics. 

NBC’s average TV audience is 7.3 million viewers this season, down 19% from last year and ranking second behind CBS, according to Nielsen figures. Among adults ages 18 to 49, NBC leads with 2.1 million but is down 26%.  But TV networks are increasingly reliant on digital ratings, which aren’t included in these totals. 

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NBC’s fall schedule

New shows in bold; new time slots in italics. 

Monday: 8, “The Voice”; 10, “Bluff City Law”

Tuesday: 8, “The Voice”; 9, “This Is Us”; 10, “New Amsterdam”

Wednesday: 8, “Chicago Med”; 9, “Chicago Fire”; 10, “Chicago PD”

Thursday: 8, “Superstore”; 8:30, “Perfect Harmony”; 9, “The Good Place”; 9:30, “Sunnyside”; 10, “Law Order: Special Victims Unit”

Friday: 8, “The Blacklist”; 9, “Dateline NBC” 

Saturday: 8, “Dateline Saturday Night Mystery”; 10, “Saturday Night Live” (repeats) 

Sunday: 7, “Football Night in America”; 8:20, “Sunday Night Football”

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  • The networks are picking their series orders for the fall TV schedules. So what could become your new favorite TV show? Maybe the return of Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) to network TV playing a private investigator on her new show for ABC? Or maybe it's one of these other new series you can check out in a few months.1 of 19
  • Edie Falco, center left, and Russell G. Gones, center right, star in the new CBS drama, 'Tommy.'2 of 19
  • Broke (CBS): Pauley Perrette (NCIS) returns to CBS, this time in a comedy about a husband and wife who move in with her estranged sister when he gets cut off from his trust fund. The series also stars Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin) and Natasha Leggero (Another Period).3 of 19
  • The Kenan Show (NBC): Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson plays a father who is trying to balance raising his two daughters with his job and helpful in-laws. The series also stars Dani Lockett (left) and Dannah Lockett (right).4 of 19
  • Sunnyside (NBC): Kal Penn (center, Designated Survivor) is Garrett Modi, a disgraced New York City Councilman who hopes to find redemption by helping people try to become American citizens.5 of 19
  • Carol's Second Act (CBS): Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) returns to network TV as Carol Chambers, a mother and former teacher who decides to finally pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. The series co-stars, from left, Lucas Neff (Raising Hope), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) and stand-up comedian Sabrina Jalees.6 of 19
  • Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS): A businessman from Detroit (Billy Gardell, Mike and Molly) unexpectedly falls for his cardiac nurse (Folake Olowofoyeku, Transparent), a Nigerian immigrant, after he suffers a heart attack.7 of 19
  • Bluff City Law (NBC): Jimmy Smits (center, How to Get Away With Murder, L.A. Law) returns to his legal-acting roots as a father who tries to reconnect with his lawyer daughter (Caitlin McGee, left, Grey's Anatomy). The series also stars Michael Luwoye (right, The Gifted).8 of 19
  • Outmatched (Fox): American Pie star Jason Biggs (with Oakley Bull and Jack Stanton) tries to raise kids with his wife, played by Maggie Lawson (Psych). But they struggle dealing with three of their children who are geniuses.9 of 19
  • Deputy (Fox): Due to an arcane rule, Bill Hollister (Stephen Dorff, True Detective) becomes the unlikely Los Angeles County Sheriff after the death of his predecessor.10 of 19
  • neXt (Fox): John Slattery (Mad Men) is a Silicon Valley pioneer who has created an artificial intelligence that could destroy the world. In order to stop it, he'll have to enlist the help of a cybercrime team including Fernanda Andrade (Here and Now) and Jason Butler Harner (Ozark).11 of 19
  • Prodigal Son (Fox): Tom Payne (The Walking Dead) plays a criminal psychologist who is good at his job by learning from his father, played by Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex), who is a notorious serial killer.12 of 19
  • Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (NBC): Jane Levy (Suburgatory) stars as Zoey Clarke, who starts to hear people's thought as songs.13 of 19
  • The Unicorn (CBS): Walton Goggins (Justified) is Wade, a widowed father who is pushed by his friends to get back into the dating pool, where he discovers he's a hot commodity. The series also stars Rob Corddry (Ballers), Michaela Watkins (Trophy Wife), Omar Benson Miller (Ballers) and Maya Lynne Robinson (The Connors).14 of 19
  • Untitled Annie Weisman and Jason Katims Drama (Fox): Emily Osment (Hannah Montana), Megalyn Echikunwoke (CSI: Miami) and Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) try to form a bond when they discover they share the same father: a pioneering fertility doctor.15 of 19
  • Evil (CBS): Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Katja Herbers (Westworld) star as a believer and a skeptic who investigate the Church's backlog of supposed miracles, demonic possessions and unexplained phenomena.16 of 19
  • Council of Dads (NBC): When a father is diagnosed with cancer, he calls on  friends to be his back-up fathers if he can't be there for his kids. His team includes his surgeon Oliver (J. August Richards, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), his oldest friend Anthony (Clive Standen, Vikings) and his AA sponsor Larry (Michael O'Neill, Scandal).17 of 19
  • All Rise (CBS): The new drama follows the lives of judges, prosecutors and public defenders, including Wilson Bethel (Daredevil) and Simone Missick (Luke Cage).18 of 19
  • Batwoman (CW): Ruby Rose reprises her role as Kate Kane a.k.a Batwoman, who first appeared in a Arrow/Supergirl/The Flash crossover event in 2018. CW also announced it will pick up Katy Keene, starring Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) as an aspiring fashion designer, and Nancy Drew, which follows a teenager investigating a local murder.19 of 19





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