TCA: NBC looking for a comeback

NBC spoke to the critics at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Friday and held numerous panels. The peacock network unveiled seven new shows for the 2010-11 season, in hopes of getting the network out of fourth place, where it’s been for five years. Here is the what they said at the press tour:

Executive session with Jeff Gaspin and Angela Bromstead:

– The two didn’t look like the deer-in-headlines duo unlike last year when Bromstead was paired with Paul Teady. With the failure of The Jay Leno Show behind them, it’s nowhere to go but up for this beleaguered network.

– With the looming departure of Steve Carrell from The Office, the duo said the show will continue, and they plan a season-long story arc leading up to his exit. I’m sorry, but Steve Carrell was the Office. Even though the series has a strong cast, it won’t be the same without Mr. Carrell.

– Gaspin noted the Thursday showdown between Community and The Big Bang Theory, noting there is room for both comedies in the 7 p.m. Thursday night time slot. If Big Bang maintains its dominance like it did on Monday nights, this Community might disbandon.

– Bromstead noted the recently-canceled Heroes …”was a great show and we had four tremendous years with that and it was a very good business for us.” Oh, really? And the Cubs were great the last four years, too.

On to the panels: NBC held panels for each of its new shows.

The Event is a serial where Heroes meets 24 (are you excited already?) This is a program is where a person investigates his finance’s disappearance and uncovers… Yep, this the next Lost that’s likely to wind up the next FlashForward.

– J.J Abrams’ new Wednesday night spy drama is titled Undercovers, which features a married couple who met in the CIA and decide to return when a fellow spy turns up missing. The show features two black leads: Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who play the married couple. Competition won’t be easy – the time slot its’ in also features Survivor, The Middle, and America’s Next Top Model.

– The biggest project of course, is NBC new Law & Order: Los Angeles. But first, a pause to pay tribute to the original Law & Order , the one that started all the fun (and revenue.) Creator Dick Wolf said the show is absolutely, positively dead, and there will be no wrap-up movie – closing the book on twenty seasons on the crime and court series, which ties Gunsmoke for the longest-running drama in television history.

Many critics are predicting Law & Order: LA will be a breakout hit. Is it original? No. Is it going to be good? Not likely. But its a familiar brand set in a familiar city and it doesn’t get more generic than that. But it’ll be a ratings smash, and that all it matters.

– Next came Outscored, a new single-camera comedy about a mid-level manager whose company  “outsources” him from Kansas City to India (any chance they can send the Royals there?) While the pilot received mixed reviews, expect this series to fit in perfectly with NBC’s Thursday comedy block. But the concept of the series seems to have been borrowed from a Simpsons episode.

– The next panel was Outlaw, which features Jimmy Smits’ return to TV as a Supreme Court judge who quits his gig and return to the legal profession as a lawyer. Critics have panned this show, and its Friday night 9 p.m. time slot could doom this show from the start. Over/Under? Three episodes.

– Next came Chase from super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, about a group of U.S. marshals hunting for the country’s most dangerous criminals. Expect a lot of action on this show, and yes, it will get nasty at times. There are a lot of choices for violence Mondays at 9 p.m. this fall, and that includes the local newscasts.

-And finally, School Pride is a new Friday night reality show hosted by Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) where according to her: “The whole idea of School Pride is to bring the community together, to empower the community to make changes in the school,”. The question TV critics should have asked her: Why is such a talented performer hosting a show like this? Don’t worry, Ms. Hines will be soon back on the stage making us laugh.

Other News & Notes from NBC’s day at the tour:

30 Rock will attempt something no sitcom has done in 17 years – perform live. A live episode of 30 Rock is scheduled to be performed on October 14 on both the East Coast and West Coast. The last time a sitcom aired live was Fox’s Roc, which did it not only for one episode, but for the entire 1992-93 season. Other one-time live stunts include ER (1997) and Gimme A Break! (1985).

– NBC and the Emmys have decided to strip the Best reality TV host category out of the show, upsetting the nominees.

– NBC also announced it was adding Rob Lowe (late of Brothers & Sisters) to Parks & Recreation, which returns in midseason.

– Guest Star Patrol: Drew Carey visits Community while Kathy bates drops by again on The Office.

– Chicago’s own Joan Cusack guest stars on the two-hour season premiere of Law And Order: SVU on Sept. 22.

Next up: ABC