NBC releases 2017-18 schedule

“Will and Grace” returns to NBC with new episodes for the first time since 2006. (NBCUniversal)

Must-See TV is back – and so is Will and Grace

In the “innovative” world of television, there must be something about resurrecting a brand dominant in the 1980’s and 1990s.

Thus, the return of “Must-See TV”.

NBC released its fall schedule Sunday in advance of its upfront presentation, scheduled to take place Monday in New York, and the biggest news: the return of Will and Grace after a eleven-year hiatus. Yes, a eleven-year hiatus. Think about that.

At the time of this writing, the network has not decided on the future of Chicago Justice, the fourth entry in Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise as it is not on the fall schedule.

Mondays has the return of The Voice, with new spinning luxury reclining seat occupant Kelly Clarkson – who was heavily wooed by ABC for its revival of American Idol (she won the first edition in 2002.) It leads into new military drama The Brave.

Tuesdays has The Voice leading into a new sitcom block of relocated sitcoms Superstore and The Good Place, both replacing This Is Us (more on that in a moment.) Chicago Fire remains pat.

Wednesdays is an all-drama night with The Blacklist leading off, followed by veteran Law & Order: SVU and Chicago PD.

Thursday is the night receiving the biggest makeover with the return of Will and Grace with Tina Fey’s Great News – then the relocation of high-rated drama This Is Us in the middle of prime-time followed by Law & Order: True Crime, featuring a story based on the Menendez brothers case.

Both Blindspot and Taken relocate to Friday, with Dateline NBC finishing the night.

When Sunday Night Football finishes in December, NBC is expected to slate Ellen DeGeneres’ new Game of Games, with Little Big Shots and Shades of Blue.

Looking at this lineup, it’s clear NBC wants to be relevant on Thursday nights, wrested away by CBS years ago – that’s why Must-See TV is back, and so is Will and Grace, which played a role in the peacock network’s success on the night in its heyday. Generally, sitcom revivals have a mixed track record (New Monkees, anyone?) But the new Will And Grace has to face TV’s top-rated sitcom The Big Bang Theory starting in November. However, Big Bang is declining creatively (yours truly’s opinion), so Will and Grace is a nice option. But you have to question why this is being rebooted – keep in mind unlike Seinfeld and Friends, Will and Grace was not a big syndication hit.

In a great counter-programming move, NBC gets points for moving This Is Us, which could put the series opposite Scandal on ABC. In the spirit of FX’s critically-acclaimed The People vs. O.J. Simpson, NBC is now trying a limited-series about another high-profile murder trial about the Menendez brothers.

NBC also gets points for moving underrated Superstore and Good Place to Tuesdays after The Voice, so they’ll get amply sampled.

Wednesdays look solid with the Blacklist joining Law & Order: SVU and Chicago PD – this block flows well, but will face tough competition from Survivor and Empire, assuming those shows stay on the night.

Fridays looks iffy however, with Blindspot and Taken, two yawner dramas. Difficult to analyze this night given the low HUT levels.

And of course, NBC will dominate with Sunday Night Football (and thankfully, the lowly Chicago Bears are not scheduled to appear.)

NBC made some good moves here, but will it pay off in increased ratings, especially with a revamped Thursday night? That remains to be seen. But with the Super Bowl (on Feb. 4), NBC would be hard-to-beat in the 18-49 demo.

For more information on NBC’s fall and midseason shows including detailed programming descriptions, click here.