“Will & Grace” isn’t the only old thing NBC wants to make new again.
In revealing its fall schedule on Sunday, the network also announced the return of its Must See TV branding, with freshman hit “This Is Us” moving from Tuesdays to serve as the anchor.
The label was most closely associated with NBC at the height of its ratings domination in the ’80s and ’90s.
In 2014, the network abandoned its tradition of scheduling comedies on Thursdays, leading some to mark it as the official death of Must See TV.
For its return, NBC has slotted its “Will & Grace” revival to start the night. It will be followed by the second season of the Tina Fey-produced “Great News,” “This Is Us,” and the premiere of Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.”
“It’s as close to Must See TV as we’ve ever had in our history,” Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, told reporters on Sunday of the lineup.
Greenblatt said Fey is expected to “pop up” in the second season of “Great News,” and it will follow the “30 Rock” tradition of welcoming big-name guest stars.
“Must See TV is a label that we’re really proud of,” he said. “If there’s a younger audience that’s never heard of that, doesn’t know what that is and has never heard of it, then its not a retread. And I think for the older audience that has watched the network for many years, I think it will be a welcomed return.”
The Thursday home for Must See TV does present some challenges for NBC, particularly from NFL games.
The lineup will be faced with stiff competition when Thursday night games air on CBS and will be subject to lengthy hiatuses when NBC gets its cut of the Thursday night football action.
Greenblatt said they’re working on “creative” ways to keep momentum going for the shows during those periods, particularly hit tearjerker “This Is Us.”
He said they have plans for a special Christmas episode and have given the series the coveted post-Super Bowl slot.
“This Is Us” was the highest rated new drama across networks and was given a rare two-season pick-up months ago.
Greenblatt joked that he’d love to see the Pittsburgh Steelers go to the Super Bowl.(“This Is Us” often makes reference to the team, as part of the story takes place in the city. )
“There’s a little bit of an on-again/off-again, but I think we’ve got some ideas we’re talking about to keep the show alive even when there aren’t episodes on the air,” he said.
NBC will present its full fall schedule to advertisers in New York on Monday, kicking off broadcast Upfront presentations.
This year, NBC is launching only two new titles in the fall — not including “Will & Grace.” More shows are scheduled to premiere in midseason, a decision in part motivated by the network’s desire to use its highly-rated Olympics programming as a launching pad for new shows.
Among the series expected in midseason is “Timeless,” which was initially part of NBC’s freshman casualties but brought back from death over the weekend after an outcry from fans.