NEW YORK >> Ted Danson returns to NBC's Thursday nights this fall, part of a conservative scheduling strategy for a network that is holding off much of its new material for other times in the year.
Danson, the memorable barkeep in "Cheers" on NBC more than two decades ago, will star in "The Good Place." He plays Kristen Bell's guide to the afterlife in a comedy produced by Michael Schur, whose credits include "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Parks and Recreation."
"It's basically a redemptive story about a young woman who hasn't made the best choices in life finding herself with a chance to course correct," said Jennifer Salke, NBC Entertainment president.
The network is doing some schedule shuffling, moving the sophomore thriller "Blindspot" from Monday to Wednesday, the drama "Chicago Med" from Tuesday to Thursday and "The Blacklist" back an hour to 10 p.m. on Thursday nights.
But of the 12 new series NBC plans to introduce next season, only three are on the fall schedule. Besides "The Good Place," the other two are the dramas "Timeless," about a criminal who steals a secret time machine with the goal of destroying America by changing its past, and "This is Us," a drama-comedy starring Mandy Moore about three strangers whose lives intersect in odd ways.
Among the shows NBC plans to roll out later in the year are "Chicago Justice," the fourth in Dick Wolf's series of Chicago dramas; a spinoff of "The Blacklist"; a remake of the movie "Taken"; a "Wizard of Oz" reimagining; a comedy based on Marlon Wayans' life and another comedy that will return John Lithgow to NBC's schedule. Also returning later is Steve Harvey's kids' show "Little Big Shots" and "Celebrity Apprentice" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which won't be on the air until the electoral fate of the show's original host, Donald Trump, is known.
The strategy illustrates the changing nature of TV, when new shows premiere year-round, and NBC touts its stability. But the conservative fall lineup is noticeable in a year where NBC has the powerful platform of the Summer Olympics in August to promote is programming.
"For the first time in a long time we're not running around throwing shows up against the wall and hoping for the best," said Robert Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment chairman.
NBC will take advantage of the Olympics attention by airing an episode of the comedy "Superstore" during the Games, and when they conclude in late August will air a new reality show that follows Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman on a trip across Asia.
NBC said it is hoping to bring the popular comedy "The Carmichael Show" back next season, but hasn't completed negotiations with the studio over how many episodes will be made.
"The Carmichael Show" is caught in a dispute illustrative of TV's changing economics. The show's producers want to make as many episodes as possible while networks are leery of big financial commitments.
NBC said it is still discussing whether one of its high-profile pilots, a remake of the movie "Cruel Intentions" starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, will find a place on its schedule.
NBC FALL SEASON
• "The Voice": 8-10 p.m.
• "Timeless": 10-11 p.m.
• "The Voice": 8-9 p.m.
• "This is Us": 9-10 p.m.
• "Chicago Fire": 10-11 p.m.
• "Blindspot": 8-9 p.m.
• "Law & Order — SVU": 9-10 p.m.
• "Chicago P.D.": 10-11 p.m.
• "Superstore": 8-8:30 p.m.
• "The Good Place": 8:30-9 p.m.
• "Chicago Med": 9-10 p.m.
• "The Blacklist": 10-11 p.m.
• "Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon": 8-9 p.m.
• "Grimm": 9-10 p.m.
• "Dateline NBC": 10-11 p.m.
• "Saturday Dateline Mysteries": 8-10 p.m.
• "Saturday Night Live" reruns: 10-11 p.m.
• "Football Night in America": 7-8:20 p.m.
• "NBC Sunday Night Football": 8:20-11:30 p.m.