Rating the New Fall Shows: Will NBC Be Must-See TV Again?

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
The cast of Will and Grace

NBC unveiled its new fall schedule on Monday, and it’s bringing back an old slogan: “Must-See TV,” the phrase the network started using in the 1990s for its Thursday-night shows, when it had such shows as Seinfeld, Friends, and Mad About You. (NBC stopped using the slogan in this century, when it had sitcoms like Bad Judge and A to Z.) The new NBC Thursday schedule will lead off with new episodes of Will & Grace. By the end of its run in 2006, W&G seemed like an exhausted concept, and the show’s new “back this fall” trailer seems strained to me, but maybe nostalgia trumps all.

Will & Grace will be followed on Thursdays by the low-rated but renewed and clever Great News. NBC’s huge hit This Is Us will occupy the 9 p.m. hour, followed by a new Law & Order franchise from producer Dick Wolf: Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. The docudrama — about the 1989 murders committed by the Menendez brothers, Lyle and Erik — stars Edie Falco in a curly blond wig as defense attorney Leslie Abramson. Judging from the trailer, it looks intriguing, if a bit melodramatic: When a show promises that “The true story will finally be told,” you can be pretty sure it won’t be telling you much that’s new.

NBC has one more new fall show: The Brave, set to air Mondays after The Voice. The Brave is a drama about a courageous Special Ops squad operating under the command of star Anne Heche, who is one of those actors whom no one in America wants to see headlining a TV show (except, apparently, a half-dozen TV executives in Los Angeles).

The Brave has lots of scenes of overseas rescues from terrorists, while people back in America gaze intently at the rescues we’re watching, but on smaller screens and with more interest. The dialogue tends toward stuff like, “People’s lives are at stake!” I watch enough TV news in which real people’s lives are at stake.

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