Dick Wolf’s quest to surpass Gunsmoke’s record as the longest running scripted drama remains alive, but the NBC (WSMV-4) tenure of My Name Is Earl and Medium has ended.
NBC finally announced its complete fall schedule Tuesday, and Law & Order returns for what will be its 20th season (which ties the Gunsmoke mark) on Fridays at 8 p.m. in September.
Perhaps the biggest change NBC is making concerns splitting the season into two halves, partly due to the Winter Olympics. Heroes and Chuck, for example, will divide the 7 p.m. Monday slot, and Parenthood (now a drama) and Mercy will split the 7 p.m. Wednesday position.
The new show Community comes in at 7 p.m. Thursday during the second half of the year, with Saturday Night Live Update shows featured during the fall in that period.
The Marriage Ref, 100 Questions, Day One and Trauma are other new shows that will be worked into the schedule, while The Biggest Loser returns fulltime and The Celebrity Apprentice resumes after football season on Sunday nights.
Medium might move to CBS, and reportedly negotiations are underway for My Name is Earl to resurface on Fox. But for now, NBC has made the necessary adjustments to clear space for the five-night-a-week new Jay Leno show at 9 p.m.
That shift will probably also impact such returning shows as Southland, Law & Order and Special Victims Unit, now in earlier time slots after previously been produced and presented as late-hour dramas. Southland already bleeps out objectionable words, a tactic that has infuriated some of its audience, but will no doubt increase in its new 8 p.m. Friday time slot. However adult themes are the mainstay of the Law & Order programs, so it will be quite intriguing to see what they will or won’t explore in their earlier spots.