NBC To Keep Scripted Fare In Early Prime Time

A week ago, NBC's decision to revamp its Thursday lineup seemed unlikely. It indicated that scripted programs would be absent from the 8 p.m. hour. The network has since backed away from that claim, saying Wednesday it would return to its four-comedy strategy on Thursdays.

Although NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said in May that "it felt vulnerable" to go with a four-comedy approach on that night, "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" will fill the Thursday 9 p.m. hour starting Nov. 30, replacing "Deal or No Deal."

After "The Apprentice" faltered, NBC had unsuccessfully returned to a four-comedy approach last spring, but abandoned it this season--until now. A two-hour comedy block propelled NBC to Thursday dominance for two decades starting in the early 1980s.

"We will stay on-brand with the best comedy block on television, which will position us for the future of the night," Reilly said.

"My Name is Earl" and "The Office" will continue to follow one another in the 8 p.m. hour followed by "Scrubs"--which has received critical acclaim but never become a breakout hit--and new comedy "30 Rock."

"30 Rock" has been airing at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, but hasn't fared well.

NBC has seen some of its old Thursday-night success return this season, as "ER" has returned to the top slot at 10 p.m.

However, "Deal" has been trailing ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and CBS' "CSI" badly in the 9 p.m. hour. And "Earl" and "The Office" have trailed "Ugly Betty" and "Survivor" in the first hour.