All eyes were on the five major English broadcast networks the last few weeks as they crafted their plans and pitched their new fall lineups to the advertisers for Upfronts. For the second year in a row, they were unable to throw the big lavish events in New York City, but they were still able to provide the necessary information and pitch their best. The networks played it safe for the most part, picking up fewer new series and choosing to hold on to existing ones to keep those viewers watching their airwaves rather than the gamble of something newer and not connecting as well.
Up first was NBC. Having already renewed the bulk of their lineup, and already ordering series from last pilot season, NBC didn’t need to make many moves. The biggest surprise of the event was the announcement that This Is Us would not be on the fall schedule. This move was made in order to air as many uninterrupted episodes for the final season. This season, the show never aired more than three new episodes in a row due to filming restrictions and delays.
One of the other biggest moves was cutting The Voice down to one cycle a season, opening up new real estate for midseason as NBC continues to solidify nights. With no comedies set for the fall schedule, all of the renewed and newly ordered comedy series will air in midseason. I wouldn’t be surprised to see comedies return to Tuesdays at 8, where returning Young Rock and Kenan aired their freshman seasons, and possibly opening a comedy block on Mondays. We will see come midseason! There will also be holiday episodes of Mr. Mayor, Young Rock and Kenan airing sometime during the holiday programming blocks.
Wednesday’s One Chicago lineup has proved quite successful for them, and NBC continued this trend with another Dick Wolf franchise on Thursdays. Three Law & Order series will occupy the 8-11 time slots in the fall with the addition of Law & Order: For The Defense. The SVU spinoff, Organized Crime did well for NBC this season so adding a full night makes complete sense.
New series Ordinary Joe gets The Voice lead in on Mondays, while fellow new series La Brea slides into This Is Us’s Tuesday time slot. Returning series New Amsterdam and The Blacklist remain in their existing time periods. The final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets a late summer final run after The Olympics conclude.
A few bubble series are still waiting for word on their futures. Debris was just cancelled after one season, which is very disappointing as the two episodes “Do You Know Icarus?” and “I Am Icarus” were some of the best episodes of the season. Good Girls could potentially make the move to Netflix as an original series there. Additionally, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist could make the move to NBC’s own streaming service, Peacock. Lastly Manifest could return, though it’s six season laid out plan may be a stretch to reach.
NBC still has a few pilots in contention as they shift to an off cycle pilot rollout. These include Hungry with Demi Lovato and a Night Court reboot with Melissa Rauch and returning John Larroquette. These and the others could make the midseason schedule or even the subsequent fall season.
NBC FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
8-10 PM — The Voice
10-11 PM — ORDINARY JOE
8-9 PM — The Voice
9-10 PM — LA BREA
10-11 PM — New Amsterdam
8-9 PM — Chicago Med
9-10 PM — Chicago Fire
10-11 PM — Chicago P.D.
8-9 PM — LAW & ORDER: FOR THE DEFENSE
9-10 PM — Law & Order: SVU
10-11 PM — Law & Order: Organized Crime
8-9 PM – The Blacklist
9-11 PM — Dateline NBC
8-9 PM — Drama Encores
9-10 PM — Dateline Weekend Mystery
10-11 PM – SNL Vintage
7-8:20 PM — Football Night in America
8:20-11 PM — NBC Sunday Night Football
Midseason: This Is Us, Kenan, Mr. Mayor, Young Rock, Transplant, Weakest Link, Who Do You Think You Are?, AMERICAN AUTO, GRAND CREW, THE THING ABOUT PAM, AGT: EXTREME, AMERICAN SONG CONTEST, THAT’S MY JAM, LA FIRE AND RESCUE, THE WHEEL, HOME SWEET HOME
Fox presented next with most of their returning series leading into new series. 9-1-1 will be back on Mondays, this time paired with new series The Big Leap which looks to be going for that Glee feeling of emotion mixed with music and dance. This could pay off big if it connects. 9-1-1: Lone Star will return at midseason after being paired with the original series this past season. The Resident gets paired with new soap Our Kind of People, from Lee Daniels. New Country Music series Monarch will launch on Tuesdays at midseason. A new reality series gets paired with The Masked Singer and sports dominate the rest of the schedule.
Aside from the animated comedies returning on Sundays, there will be no live action comedy in the fall on Fox, just like NBC. This isn’t new for Fox, as last season saw the same scheduling with them launching Call Me Kat and the final season of Last Man Standing at midseason. Plus they have animated Duncanville and new series Krapopolis from Dan Harmon which could join the Sunday animated lineup or if the Monday animated block is successful this summer, could end up there again.
Once Thursday Night Football departs at the end of the upcoming season for Amazon Prime Video, Fox will have lots of new series to potentially fill the Thursday timeslot. New series Pivoting and Welcome to Flatch could be paired with the returning Call Me Kat for a continued Thursday comedy block. New drama The Cleaning Lady could also make a debut there.
All of Fox’s pilots have either been ordered to series or passed over. With the two straight to series orders this coming season, we could see Fox continue with a hybrid pilot/straight to series combo. The Moody’s hasn’t been cancelled officially yet, but after being pulled off the schedule, it’s inevitable once it returns for its final 3 episodes in June. Prodigal Son, which was cancelled, is also being shopped around, though it was already passed on by the most likely home, HBO Max. Chances are looking slim.
FOX FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
8-9 PM — 9-1-1
9-10 PM — THE BIG LEAP
8-9 PM — The Resident
9-10 PM — OUR KIND OF PEOPLE
8-9 PM — The Masked Singer
9-10 PM — ALTER EGO
THURSDAY, Beginning Oct. 7
8 PM-CC ET/ — Thursday Night Football on Fox
5 PM-CC PT
8-10 PM — WWE’S Friday Night Smackdown
7-10:30 PM — FOX Sports Saturday
7-7:30 PM — NFL on Fox
7:30-8 PM — The OT / FOX Encores
8:-8:30 PM — The Simpsons
8:30-9 PM — The Great North
9-9:30 PM — Bob’s Burgers
9:30-10 PM — Family Guy
Midseason: 9-1-1: Lone Star, Call Me Kat, Duncanville, I Can See Your Voice, MONARCH, BEDROCK, PIVOTING, WELCOME TO FLATCH, KRAPOPOLIS THE CLEANING LADY, NEXT LEVEL CHEF, DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS, DOMINO MASTERS
Going into Upfronts, ABC had the most moves left to make. The network renewed many of their existing series, also keeping their fall schedule mostly intact. The biggest question mark was Grey’s Anatomy. It was renewed, but not announced if it would be a final season. The show will remain with Station 19 on Thursdays, but will now be paired with Big Sky as it shifts to a new day from Tuesdays.
The Monday pairing of Dancing With The Stars and The Good Doctor stays together, and The Bachelorette will once again be doing a fall season, leading into new buzzy drama Queens. The series follows a group of former singers who attempt a reboot of their careers. Think Girls5eva but a drama.
Wednesday comedies will return leading into A Million Little Things again. Home Economics will shift to 9:30 allowing The Wonder Years reboot series to take the 8:30 time slot. Black-ish will return at some point midseason for a final season. Additionally the network will have new comedies Abbott Elementary and Maggie to either join Wednesday or rejoin a Tuesday comedy block after The Bachelorette. The Sunday reality block will return leading into The Rookie with American Idol joining midseason.
The network’s midseason schedule also has a limited series called Women of the Movement. The remaining pilots which are in contention could make it on the midseason schedule once they film and get screened. They could also end up on the next fall schedule should they not have space either. Pilot season is very fluid at ABC too this year. The Bachelor and a few other reality/competition series remain on the bubble, but we’ll likely see The Bachelor return come midseason. Cancelled drama For Life is also looking at a possible move to hulu, though nothing is confirmed yet.
Sadly American Housewife will not be returning to wrap up the exciting cliffhanger left at the end of it’s now final episode. Also surprising was ABC cancelling rookie drama Rebel from their MVP show runner Krista Vernoff. It could have grown with a summer of streaming, but they ultimately pulled the plug.
ABC FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
8-10 PM — Dancing with the Stars
10-11 PM – The Good Doctor
8-10 PM — The Bachelorette
10-11 PM — QUEENS
8-8:30 PM — The Goldbergs
8:30-9 PM — THE WONDER YEARS
9-9:30 PM — The Conners
9:30-10 PM — Home Economics (new time)
10-11 PM — A Million Little Things
8-9 PM — Station 19
9-10 PM — Grey’s Anatomy
10-11 PM — Big Sky (new night)
8-9 PM — Shark Tank
9-11 PM — 20/20
8 PM — Saturday Night Football
7-8 PM — America’s Funniest Home Videos
8-9 PM — Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (new night and time)
9-10 PM — Supermarket Sweep (new time)
10-11 PM — The Rookie
Midseason: black-ish, American Idol, The Great Christmas Light Fight, Holey Moley, WOMEN OF THE MOVEMENT, ABBOTT ELEMENTARY, MAGGIE
Like NBC, CBS is making their own night of franchise programming. Mondays will see NCIS join the night at 9 leading into the new spinoff series, NCIS: Hawai’i. This move will allow Tuesdays to become a full night of FBI series. Kicking off the night will be the original FBI followed by new series FBI: International. FBI: Most Wanted will end the night at 10. This also means that Dick Wolf will have three consecutive nights of programming on two networks. FBI Tuesdays, Chicago Wednesdays and Law & Order Thursdays.
Wednesdays will see the return of CSI with CSI: Vegas, a sequel series, at 10. Survivor will also return after missing a year due to the pandemic. Tough as Nails will take the 9:00 hour. Former Wednesday dramas S.W.A.T. and SEAL Team will be on the move. SEAL Team will make the move to Sundays at 10 for four episodes, before officially moving to its new home on streaming service Paramount+. S.W.A.T. will take the 8:00 on Friday time slot, and then after SEAL Team wraps on Sundays, take its 10:00 slot.
Also moving to Paramount+ is the second season of Evil which was left off the schedule at CBS this past season. Clarice is also (unofficially) going to make the move to the new streaming service after one season.
Comedies will remain on Mondays and Thursdays with Chuck Lorre having four comedies on the fall schedule. With Mom ending, he will be down one series from his record this past spring. Young Sheldon will continue leading into United States of Al. New comedy Ghosts, based off of the British series (which is great and streaming on HBO Max in the US) will lead into sophomore series B Positive. Bob Hearts Abishola and The Neighborhood will remain in their Monday time slots.
Standout series All Rise got cut this season at CBS while shows with similar behind the scenes shake ups like Bull and The Neighborhood remain, because of “better ratings”. All Rise is looking for a new home, but there’s only a slim chance at actually finding one.
New medical drama Good Sam with Sophia Bush is the only non spinoff new drama series being held for Midseason. CBS passed on Patrick Dempsey’s series Ways and Means surprisingly, but the current political climate accounted for them passing on it. They also have new comedy Smallwood for midseason which looks like it should fit in perfectly with their usual comedies.
CBS FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
8-8:30 PM — The Neighborhood
8:30-9 PM — Bob ♥ Abishola
9-10 PM — NCIS (new time and time)
10-11 PM — NCIS: HAWAI’I
8-9 PM — FBI (new time)
9-10 PM — FBI: INTERNATIONAL
10-11 PM — FBI: Most Wanted
8-9 PM — Survivor
9-10 PM — Tough As Nails (new time)
10-11 PM — CSI: VEGAS
8-8:30 PM — Young Sheldon
8:30-9 PM — United States of Al
9-9:30 PM — GHOSTS
9:30-10 PM — B Positive
10-11 PM — Bull
8-9 PM — S.W.A.T. (new night and time)/Unscripted
9-10 PM — Magnum P.I.
10-11 PM — Blue Bloods
8-9 PM — Saturday Encores
9-10 PM — Saturday Encores
10-11 PM — 48 Hours
7-8 PM — 60 Minutes
8-9 PM — The Equalizer
9-10 PM — NCIS: Los Angeles
10-11 PM — SEAL Team (new night and time)/S.W.A.T. (new night and time)
Midseason: Undercover Boss, The Amazing Race, Blood & Treasure, GOOD SAM, SMALLWOOD, COME DANCE WITH ME
Last but not least was the CW’s schedule reveal. The network had already picked up a bulk of their returning series for the new season, only cancelling a handful of them. Supergirl and Black Lightning are the two Arrowverse series coming to an end. The Black Lightning spinoff pilot Painkiller got the word they were passing on it right before the series finale episode aired.
The CW also announced they would be branching out into Saturday night programming for the first time in the network’s history allowing them to have a full 7 day week of nightly programming. They chose to slot Whose Line Is It Anyway? and World’s Funniest Animals here as they are likely cost effective programming for the least watched night of the week.
Sundays also saw a shakeup with the shift to all unscripted programming after two seasons of dramas filling the night. The adult Legends of the Hidden Temple revival will kick off the night leading into the US remake of the British reality series Killer Camp. The British version aired last summer on the network.
Staying paired together and shifting from Sundays to Wednesdays are DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman. This means that both Nancy Drew and Riverdale will be on the move. Nancy Drew will be paired with Penn & Teller: Fool Us on Fridays, while Riverdale will follow The Flash on Tuesdays. With filming on both seasons of The Flash and Riverdale running late this season, the shows will not air their new seasons until November. They announced they will be doing event programming for those 5 weeks to make up for the delay.
Mondays will see new series 4400, a reboot of The 4400 which aired on USA Network. This will be paired with returning series All American, which is their top performer (and ironically likely their least promoted series outside of Black Lightning this season). The CW also picked up the All American spinoff series All American: Homecoming which will air midseason. Walker and Legacies will remain on Thursdays.
Superman & Lois was surprisingly held for midseason along with Kung Fu. Charmed, Stargirl, Dynasty, In The Dark, and Roswell, New Mexico will also be making midseason appearances along with new DC drama series Naomi, from Ava Duvernay. Naomi will not be a part of the Arrowverse apparently. The Nancy Drew spinoff pilot Tom Swift and the Powerpuff Girls live action series are still in consideration for midseason. Powerpuff came in too silly for the network’s liking and will reshoot a new pilot which will then be up for consideration.
The CW FALL 2021 SCHEDULE
8-9 PM — All American
9-10 PM — 4400
8-9 PM — The Flash
9-10 PM — Riverdale (new night and time)
8-9 PM — DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (new night)
9-10 PM — Batwoman (new night)
8-9 PM — Walker
9-10 PM — Legacies
8-9 PM — Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9-10 PM — Nancy Drew (new night)
8-8:30 PM — Whose Line Is it Anyway (new night)
8:30-9 PM — Whose Line Is it Anyway
9-9:30 PM — World’s Funniest Animals (new night)
9:30-10 PM — World’s Funniest Animals
8-9 PM — LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE
9-10 PM — KILLER CAMP
Midseason: Superman & Lois, Kung Fu, Charmed, Stargirl, Dynasty, In The Dark, Roswell, New Mexico, ALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING, NAOMI
Overall, the networks played it fairly safe for their fall schedules, sticking with what works for them.
Franchise series, at each of the networks will only continue to grow as each network now has at least one. CBS has FBI, CSI, NCIS. NBC has Law & Order and the Chicago series. ABC has the two Grey’s Anatomy series. Fox has the 9-1-1 series. The CW has the Arrowverse and All American (and Legacies) series.
Stability in scheduling to keep people watching the same nights and times will help stop bleeding ratings as each season goes on. New series will mostly fill in for cancelled series and solid performers slide into weaker slots as they try to strengthen weak spots on their schedules. ABC Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10. CBS Thursdays at 10. NBC Mondays at 10 and Thursdays at 8. Fox Tuesdays at 9. CW Sundays and Wednesdays.
Comedies in the fall are becoming more rare. Only ABC on Wednesdays and CBS on Mondays and Thursdays will have comedies on the lineup. NBC will have late summer and holiday specials only. Come midseason Fox and NBC will have them regularly scheduled.
Streaming services may keep some series alive longer, sliding seamlessly in house to their new home. Evil and SEAL Team will help bolster Paramount+’s growing library of original series. Bringing Clarice to Paramount+ will also bring it together with Alex Kurtzman’s Star Trek series already at the streaming network. NBC and Netflix have a deal already so a move there would be seamless as well. Should Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist move to Peacock it will also help it grow along with For Life at hulu should it also make the move.
We’ll see if over the summer any of the networks tweak any schedules, but for the most part this will be the fall 2021 schedules for all the main English broadcast networks! Here’s to another fun pilot and upfronts season!