NBC just announced mid-season changes to the biggest trouble spots on its schedule, including the January return of “Community” to Thursdays at 8, the “Chicago Fire” spin-off “Chicago P.D.” taking over the Wednesday at 10 timeslot in January, and “Ironside” and “Welcome to the Family” being pulled from the schedule.
“Community” season 5 – featuring the return of Dan Harmon, the absence of Chevy Chase, and the brief five-episode presence of Donald Glover – will debut with back to back episodes at 8 and 8:30 on Thursday, January 2. The following week, “Parks and Recreation” will shift back to 8:30 (resurrecting the wonderful but low-rated “Community”/”Parks” combo NBC has used a few times in the past) the following week with its 100th episode, written by Amy Poehler and Mike Schur.
“Chicago P.D.,” starring Jason Beghe, Jon Seda and Sophia Bush, will debut on Wednesday, January 8 at 10 p.m.
From now until then, NBC will fill the Thursday at 8 hour with a combination of back-to-back “Parks” episodes, primetime specials like “SNL Halloween” and “The Sound of Music Live!,” a couple of “Voice” episodes and a two-week run for “The Sing-Off” starting on December 12.
“Ironside” will air one last episode this Wednesday. Filling the pre-“Chicago P.D.” gap in that timeslot will be new episodes of “Dateline NBC,” more “SNL” holiday specials, and Christmas specials from Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bublé.
As well as NBC has been doing on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday this year, its Thursday has been a disaster, and “Ironside” was an early candidate for the season’s first cancellation. Bringing back “Community” certainly isn’t going to turn Thursdays back into Must-See TV, but I suspect at a certain point in the fall, Bob Greenblatt and company recognized that Thursday (which includes the disappointingly-rated “The Michael J. Fox Show,” which got a full-season order before it ever aired) was unfixable, and that they might as well go with a show a small but quantifiable slice of their audience will watch, then try for a bigger overhaul next season.