NEW YORK – NBC will try to awaken the ghosts of past dominance on Thursday night by making it a family night of television bolstered by the additions of Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox.
NBC on Sunday became the first of the major broadcasters to announce its plans for next season, and its executives said they had ordered a staggering 17 new series. Only six of them are on fall’s schedule, however, with six more to join in midseason when NBC hopes to get a burst of attention from its telecast of the Winter Olympics.
The struggling network is also taking a risk by moving two of its young and promising dramas to new nights: Revolution will switch from Monday to Wednesday and Chicago Fire from Wednesday to Tuesday.
After an encouraging start to the current season last fall behind Sunday Night Football and The Voice, the bottom fell out in midwinter when those two shows went away.
NBC had some historically bad ratings, even falling behind the Spanish-speaking Univision in the February sweeps. Its executives were not made available to speak about the plans on Sunday.
Thursday used to be must-see TV on NBC in the 1990s, but its decline symbolized the network’s troubles. NBC’s new emphasis for Thursday will be on broader-based, family comedies instead of shows like The Office which was a hit with critics but not the audience.
NBC will seek a turnaround with Sean Saves the World, starring Hayes as a divorced gay dad who juggles work with raising a teenage daughter. Fox’s show mirrors his life – he plays a character getting back to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The third new Thursday comedy is Welcome to the Family, about a white high school graduate impregnated by her Latino boyfriend.
Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation will be back to open NBC’s Thursday schedule. The network announced that the quirky Community had been renewed, but it hasn’t found a spot on the schedule yet.
The drama Parenthood will air Thursday at 10 p.m.
NBC has canceled several of its shows, including the newsmagazine Rock Center, the Matthew Perry comedy Go On and the quickly forgotten comedies The New Normal, Up All Night, Guys With Kids, 1600 Penn and Whitney.
The network said no decision has been made on the future of the low-rated serial killer drama Hannibal or the durable Donald Trump game Celebrity Apprentice.
New fall dramas include The Blacklist, which stars James Spader as fugitive who volunteers to help the FBI catch a terrorist; and Ironside, with Blair Underwood as a New York City detective in a wheelchair.
NBC said two new comedies will replace The Biggest Loser on Tuesdays in midseason. And when football goes away, the network will try two new dramas on Sunday nights: Believe, a J.J. Abrams series about a girl coming to grips with superpowers, and Crisis, about a bus full of children of Washington elite who are kidnapped.
NBC also said Sunday that it is holding a Twitter-based sweepstakes linked to its fall schedule presentation to advertisers – a social-media twist on the annual TV rite occurring this week.
One of the prizes is a trip to Los Angeles to attend a final taping of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
The other is a New York visit to see one of the first tapings of the relocated Tonight with new host Jimmy Fallon.
The contest opens today and it runs through June 13. Fans can enter by following NBC’s Twitter accounts of its upcoming schedule.