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TV Column
Posted at 06:01 PM ET, 10/30/2012

‘Community’ has a return date, and other NBC midseason news: ‘Smash,’ ‘Biggest Loser’ return


Joel McHale as Jeff, Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley on “Community.” (NBC - JORDIN ALTHAUS/NBC)

NBC, which has surprised the TV industry — including its own executives — by jumping from fourth place to first in the ratings this fall, on Tuesday unveiled its post-football plans to stay there.

Headlining Tuesday’s announcement was that the network will replace ratings-behemoth football on Sundays with dating “reality” series “Ready for Love” once the NFL’s regular season is over.

But the new show won’t premiere until March 31, airing 8-10 p.m. each Sunday. (FYI, ABC’s “The Bachelor” typically returns for its spring season in the first week of January, on Monday nights.)

In “Ready for Love,” divorced former basketball wife Eva Longoria hand selects three “successful and handsome men who are committed to finding the right woman,” and offers them the chance of finding “their soul mate” from a bevy of beauties selected by “the three best matchmakers in the world,” beginning a romantic journey that combines sports-like competition with “The Bachelor”- like hot-tubbing and canoodling. Giuliana and Bill Rancic will host.

Each week, the contestants will be whittled down — how romantic — until the dramatic finale, when it’s down to the three grooms and three brides to decide if they’ll get engaged, married, “or simply live happily ever after,” NBC said.

Wait — isn’t getting engaged and/or married the “happily ever after” gag?


"Celebrity Apprentice All Stars” (Slaven Vlasic - GETTY IMAGES)
Weeks before “Love’s” debut on March 31, “The Celebrity Apprentice” starts its all-star edition, airing Sundays 9-11 p.m., for four weeks, until it shrinks down to a one-hour show to coincide with the launch of “Love.”

NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” — the other big piece of the network’s fourth quarter success — is returning for a spring round on Monday and Tuesday nights, and will be followed on Mondays by “Revolution,” which is one of this season’s most successful new-series launches.

But “The Voice” isn’t coming back until March 25, and with two of its celebrity judges, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, taking sabbaticals and being replaced by Usher and Shakira.

This timing is very good news for Fox’s “American Idol: Nicki Minaj” which debuts Jan. 16.

Warming up “The Voice’s” Monday timeslot until the singing show comes back: an overhauled “The Biggest Loser” with returning star Jillian Michaels. “TBL” will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 6, then move to Monday nights and stay there until “The Voice” clocks in.

Meanwhile, warming up “Revolution’s” timeslot: rich-folks murder mystery “Deception” starting Jan. 7.

NBC’s highly hyped but ultimately non-smash “Smash” is coming back on Tuesdays, starting Feb. 5, to air at 10 p.m., after “The Voice,” like it did last spring.


Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright on “Smash.” (Mark Seliger - MARK SELIGER/NBC)
Several “Smash” cast members have been tossed, for which we are thankful. And Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson has been added to the cast, NBC reminded us Tuesday.

Warming up “The Voice’s” Tuesday timeslot until the singing show returns? “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” starting Jan. 8.

Most of the chatter about NBC’s new schedule, at least among TV critics, will focus on “Community” coming back to its old Thursday 8 p.m. berth, starting Feb. 7, instead of being sent to the wasteland of Friday nights, as NBC had announced to advertisers was its intention back in May when it announced its plans for this TV season.

And the chatter will be snarky, instead of grateful — along the lines of: “COMMUNITY, a show that once aired on American television, returns to NBC Feb. 7” (Time’s James Poniewozik), and “OK, so it IS the apocalypse, if NBC gave Community a return date,” (TVLine.com’s Matt Mitovich).

Some might suggest NBC never intended to air “Community” on Fridays and that it was just a cynical way of bringing NBC more cash at the upfront market. Not us, of course — but others.

But long before “Community” comes back, new White House comedy “1600 Penn” moves into the Thursday 9:30 p.m. half hour. It’s about a wild and crazy family that just happens to be the First Family. It debuts Jan. 10 — a week and a half before Inauguration Day .

And, Thursday’s “Parks and Recreation” moves up one hour on the Thursday schedule, to 8:30 p.m., starting on Jan. 17.

By  |  06:01 PM ET, 10/30/2012

 
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