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Fox, NBC plan to lighten the mood this season

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There's something funny going on here -- or at least that's what Fox and NBC are hoping, as the first two U.S. networks to unveil their fall prime-time schedules as part of the TV industry's annual upfront sales presentations in New York.

Fox's 2012-13 schedule, unveiled Monday, will include three new comedies and two new dramas; NBC's lineup, revealed Sunday, includes four new sitcoms this fall, another three slated for mid-season, and the inclusion of comedy in NBC's Tuesday and Friday nights for the first time in recent memory.

Fox has officially cancelled Alcatraz, Breaking In, The Finder, Teenage Daughter and, of course, House, which will get a fitting sendoff on May 21. NBC's extensive list of axed series includes Awake, Are You There, Chelsea?, Bent, Best Friends Forever, Harry's Law, Escape Routes, Fear Factor, The Marriage Ref, Minute to Win It and Who Do You Think You Are?

Fox's fall lineup looks like this:

On Monday, returning stalwart Bones will be joined by a new drama, The Mob Doctor, which stars Jordana Spiro as a brilliant young surgeon whose career is compromised by her family's debt to Chicago mobsters. On Tuesday, two new comedies -- Ben and Kate, which focuses on a pair of mismatched siblings (played by Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon) who help each other adjust to grown-up life, and The Mindy Project, which stars The Office's Mindy Kaling as a gifted doctor (OB/GYN) whose personal life is a disaster -- will be nestled among returning titles Raising Hope and New Girl.

Fox's Wednesday schedule belongs to The X Factor this fall, and American Idol from January onward. On Thursday, the results shows for those reality/competition juggernauts will act as a lead-in for about-to-be-relocated Glee.

Friday belongs to the paranormal drama genre, with Touch and Fringe both returning. Saturday is a sports-filled night, and Sunday, as always, belongs to Fox's "Animation Domination" block -- The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad (with The Cleveland Show rejoining the pack in January, after Fox's NFL commitment ends).

NBC's fall lineup is front-loaded with new titles, with all of its six rookie offerings arriving in the first half of the week. Monday has the return of The Voice followed by Revolution, a speculative-fiction drama about life in a near-future world without electricity or technology. On Tuesday, NBC will introduce two comedies -- Go On, which stars Matthew Perry as a radio sportscaster rebounding from a personal tragedy and trying to fit in with members of a therapy group, and The New Normal, which focuses on a Beverly Hills couple's effort to enlist a surrogate mother to deliver a child into their lives -- to accompany The Voice's results show and returning drama Parenthood.

On Wednesday, NBC is making the risky choice of airing a lineup composed mainly of new shows: Animal Practice, which stars Justin Kirk (Weeds) as an offbeat veterinarian; Guys With Kids, a Jimmy Fallon-produced sitcom about new dads trying to maintain their images as cool dudes; and Chicago Fire, a drama that follows the exploits of the firefighters and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. Law & Order: SVU is the only veteran in the Wednesday mix.

NBC's Thursday and Friday schedules are filled with familiar fare -- 30 Rock, Up All Night, The Office, Parks and Recreation and Rock Center with Brian Williams on Thursday, and Whitney, Community, Grimm and Dateline NBC on Friday. Saturday remains a refuge for reruns on NBC, and Sunday belongs to Sunday Night Football until January, when the new medical drama Do No Harm will be joined by Dateline NBC, Fashion Star and The Celebrity Apprentice.

ABC will unveil its fall lineup on Tuesday in New York, with CBS following suit on Wednesday and the CW wrapping up the upfronts on Thursday.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2012 C3

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