NBC is not only trying to return to its Thursday night comedy glory next season, but the network has called on two former Thursday night comedy champs -- "Family Ties" star Michael J. Fox and "Will and Grace" star Sean Hayes -- to help.
NBC, which makes its presentation to advertisers and the media Monday morning in New York City, officially announced its fall 2013-14 over the weekend, and while Fox and Hayes lead NBC's new comedies, the network also called on stars from its past for a pair of high-profile dramas, including former "Office" star James Spader in "The Blacklist" (which will air Mondays at 10 PM after "The Voice") and "L.A. Law" alum Blair Underwood in an "Ironside" remake.
In all, NBC adds 14 new scripted series -- eight dramas and six comedies -- to its new-season roster, along with new reality series "The Million Second Quiz" and "American Dream Builders."
Among the network's biggest scheduling switcheroos: "The Biggest Loser" moves to Tuesdays (from Monday); "Parenthood" moves from Tuesdays to Thursdays, where, along with the comedy lineup, NBC is pitching the schedule as a family-themed night; "Revolution" moves from Mondays to Wednesdays, with the goal of leading off an evening of strong dramas; and "Chicago Fire" -- which earned its own spinoff series in its freshman season -- moves from Wednesdays to Tuesdays at 10 PM, where NBC hopes it will benefit from lead-in "The Voice."
A description of the new NBC series, along with our first impressions about which ones might make our must-see list next fall:
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Delroy Lindo, Jake McLaughlin ("Crash"), Jamie Chung ("The Real World: San Diego," "Once Upon a Time"), and Johnny Sequoyah
Producers: Alfonso Cuaron, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk
Plot: A young girl named Bo (Sequoyah) with special powers forms a friendship with Tate (McLaughlin), a man just released from prison, who travels with her from city to city (like "Kung Fu"? Or "Highway to Heaven"?) while they try to avoid the evil forces who want to control Bo's powers.
First Impression: "Children of Men" Oscar nominee Cuaron and frequent futuristic-themed project collaborators Abrams and Burk are the go-to guys in this arena, but between this and "About a Boy," NBC may have one too many series involving pseudo-creepy relationships between adults and children on its fall schedule.
"The Blacklist" (Drama)
Stars: James Spader, Diego Klattenhoff ("Homeland"), Harry Lennix ("Dollhouse" and "24"), Ryan Eggold ("90210"), and Megan Boone ("Law & Order: LA")
Producers: John Eisendrath ("Alias"), while the pilot was directed by Joe Carnahan ("The A-Team")
Plot: Spader is Red Reddington, one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, who has spent years helping other criminals get their evildoing done. Suddenly, he decides to turn himself in to the FBI, with the offer of helping the agency catch a terrorist and assorted other baddies, but only if he can work with newbie FBI agent Liz Keen (Boone). What are his real motivations, and why has he chosen Keen as his contact?
First Impression: Spader as a complicated bad guy (or is he?!) who's supposed to be a little creepy? Our only question is, what took the networks so long to cast him as such?
"Chicago PD" (Drama)
Stars: "Chicago Fire" stars Jason Beghe, and Jon Seda
Producer: "Law & Order" papa Dick Wolf
Plot: The "Chicago Fire" spinoff revolves around the Chicago cops -- both the unformed patrol officers and the Intelligence Unit detectives -- who watch over the citizens of District 21.
First Impression: You just can't keep Wolf away from the legal dramas … but are viewers looking for yet another Dick Wolf/NBC cop show?
Producers: "Life" producers Rand Ravich and Far Shariat; Phillip Noyce ("Salt") directed the pilot.
Plot: Washington's most powerful players, including the president, are pulled into an international conspiracy when a group of kids from a D.C. prep school are kidnapped.
First Impression: We love a good conspiracy drama, and it'll be great to see Mulroney on TV every week, though we can't help but think this is the exact sort of situation Jack Bauer would be all over. Does Mulroney have Bauer-esque chops?
Stars: John Malkovich
Producers: Neil Cross ("Luther"), Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald ("Men in Black"), and Ted Gold ("Three Rivers")
Plot: It's 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence, and the pirate Blackbeard (Malkovich) rules! But he's got an undercover assassin hot on his trail and a "passionately driven woman whom he cannot deny."
First Impression: It's a limited series -- it will replace "Dracula" at midseason -- which only adds to the vibe that it's going to make for fun, event programming-type viewing.
Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors"), Victoria Smurfit ("About a Boy"), Thomas Kretschmann ("King Kong"), Jessica De Gouw ("Arrow"), Oliver Jackson-Cohen ("Mr. Selfridge"), Nonso Anozie ("Game of Thrones"), and Katie McGrath ("Merlin")
Producers: Daniel Knauf ("Carnivale"), Tony Krantz ("24,"), and Colin Callender and Gareth Neame ("Downton Abbey")
Plot: Rhys Meyers is Dracula, who travels to London and pretends to be an American businessman in the late 19th century. But he has another agenda for his trip: revenge! He wants payback from the people who cursed him with immortality, and all seems to be going according to his plan, until he falls for a woman who might be the reincarnation of his dead wife.
First Impression: See "Crossbones"; we love the idea of two extended miniseries, each airing half the season. Let's hope it becomes a regular part of NBC's programming plans, especially if it would continue to attract great stories and fine stars like John Malkovich and Rhys Meyers to primetime.
Stars: Blair Underwood, Pablo Schreiber ("The Wire"), Spencer Grammer ("Greek"), Neal Bledsoe ("Smash"), Brent Sexton ("Justified"), and Kenneth Choi ("Sons of Anarchy")
Producer: Michael Caleo ("The Sopranos" and "Rescue Me")
Plot: Underwood is the titular wheelchair-bound Robert Ironside, who does not allow his wheelchair to affect his work as a top police detective.
First Impression: It's about time someone remade this classic 1967-75 Raymond Burr series (which also aired on NBC), and "L.A. Law" alum Underwood is a great choice for playing the tough, and now sexy, detective.
"The Night Shift" (Drama)
Stars: Freddy Rodriguez ("Six Feet Under"), Ken Leung ("Lost"), Brigid Brannagh ("Army Wives"), Eoin Macken ("Merlin"), Jeananne Goossen ("The Following"), Jill Flint ("The Good Wife"), Brendan Fehr ("Roswell"), and Robert Bailey, Jr. ("Wanda at Large")
Producers: "Freaks and Geeks" producers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah; pilot directed by Pierre Morel ("Taken").
Plot: Follows the medical staff who work the night shift at a San Antonio hospital.
First Impression: The "Freaks and Geeks" connection is interesting, but otherwise … eh.
NEXT: Preview the new comedies from Fox and Hayes, and see NBC's full fall 2013 schedule.