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NBC announces new fall lineup

Zachary Levi and Michelle Ryan in NBC's Chuck and Bionic Woman.

Quality rich but ratings poor, NBC hopes to right its ship in the fall with more mainstream fare.

Additions are minimal, though. Just four new series will dawn in early autumn, including a ramped-up version of Bionic Woman.

Says NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly: "We've got the class and next season we're ready to add some mass with new shows that build on the creative accomplishments of last season and are as broad as they are good."

After a solid start last fall, the Peacock has drooped to fourth place in both total viewers and among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. It desperately needs a big new hit or two.

The new schedule will shift NBC's acclaimed Friday Night Lights from the first hour of prime-time on Wednesdays to the last hour on Fridays, where the made-in-Austin series initially will have to go against real-life high school football games. That doesn't sound very sporting.

The Peacock's next battle plan also is without any new half-hour comedies, although some holdovers will be "bulked up" beyond their conventional 22-24 episode orders. The Office will get 30 episodes, including a quintet of one-hour editions.

My Name Is Earl has a 25-episode order, with its namesake beginning the show's third season behind bars. Scrubs and 30 Rock also will remain on Thursdays, joining ER for its 14th season.

Another NBC evergreen, Law & Order, will return for an 18th season, but not until midseason on Sunday nights after football ends. Law & Order: Criminal Intent is moving to the NBC Universal-owned USA network, with repeats available for airing on NBC. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit remains in place on Tuesday nights.

NBC has ordered 30 combined episodes of freshman hit Heroes and Heroes: Origins, which will introduce possible new characters. Viewers then get to decide online which one becomes a regular in the show's expected third season.

As anticipated, NBC has dropped Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, its most publicized new series from last fall. Also in the cancelation corral: The Apprentice, Crossing Jordan, Thank God You're Here, Raines and Andy Barker, P.I.

Six of the seven nights will lead off with unscripted hours from 7 to 8 p.m. (central), with only Thursday nights exempt.

Here are NBC's new series:

***Bionic Woman (drama) -- Newcomer Michelle Ryan stars as super-powered Jaime Sommers, a bartender and surrogate single mom who's rebuilt after a bad car accident. TV icon Lindsay Wagner played the role until 1978, when the original series left NBC. Reruns will be repurposed on NBC Universal's Sci Fi Channel.

***Chuck (drama) -- Nerdy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) becomes the government's "most vital secret agent" after he unknowingly downloads a wealth of sensitive data into his brain. Adam Baldwin co-stars as a major assigned to protect him. Reruns will be repurposed on USA Network.

***Journeyman (drama) -- San Fran newspaper man Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd from Rome) suddenly begins to travel through time and change lives. His sudden unexplained disappearances also cause stress back home, where Vasser's wife and son wonder what the hell's goin' on.

***Life (drama) -- Offbeat detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) returns to crimesolving after years in the slammer. He of course wasn't guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. Robin Weigart, glorious as Calamity Jane on Deadwood, co-stars as a "hard-hitting" superior officer. And resilient Adam Arkin plays Crews' former cellmate.

***The Singing Bee (game show) -- Contestants will have to know the lyrics to popular songs -- even after the band stops playing! As part of NBC's Friday "Game Night," the show won't premiere until an eight-week run for the returning 1 vs 100.

NBC also plans to launch the new "dramedy" Lipstick Jungle on Sunday nights after the pro football season. Drawn from the novel by Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame, it's about the trials and travails of three high-powered New York career women. Brooke Shields is in the mix as movie exec Wendy and Kim Raver from 24 also gets another shot after ABC's The Nine went down earlier this season. She'll play Nico, editor of a hot fashion mag.

A new comedy, The IT Crowd, is scheduled to premiere "during the course" of next season. It's about "quirky techies" who lack people skills but know how to shape up a hard drive. Obviously fictional, it's set in the U.S. instead of India, where most of the jobs are being outsourced.

There's this, too. Jerry Seinfeld will create and star in 20 "minisodes" inspired by his experiences behind the scenes of his new animated feature film Bee Movie. They'll run whenever NBC want to plug them in. And American Idol judge Randy Jackson is co-producing World Moves, an international dance competition scheduled for a late fall premiere.

Here's NBC's complete fall 2007 lineup (all times central):

7 p.m. -- Deal or No Deal
8 p.m. -- Heroes
9 p.m. -- Journeyman

7 p.m. -- The Biggest Loser
8 p.m. Chuck
9 p.m. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

7 p.m. -- Deal or No Deal
8 p.m. -- Bionic Woman
9 p.m. Life

7 p.m. -- My Name Is Earl
7:30 p.m. -- 30 Rock
8 p.m. -- The Office
8:30 p.m. -- Scrubs
9 p.m. -- ER

7 p.m. -- 1 vs 100/The Singing Bee
8 p.m. -- Las Vegas
9 p.m. -- Friday Night Lights

7 p.m. -- Dateline NBC
8 to 10 p.m. -- Drama series repeats

6 p.m. -- Football Night in America
7 p.m. -- NBC Sunday Night Football

(After football)
6 p.m. -- Dateline NBC
7 p.m. -- Law & Order
8 p.m. -- Medium
9 p.m. -- Lipstick Jungle