NBC Announces Winter Lineup

Two things struck me when learning about NBC's midseason changes. The first was that the network decided not to go through with the proposed "Office" spinoff featuring Dwight's family.

"Shrute Farm" was going to be introduced to viewers as part of what is known as a backdoor pilot, meaning they'd pop up in an episode of "The Office" and then get their own spinoff. "NCIS" was introduced in a similar way back when "JAG" was on the air for CBS.

And while that episode will still air, NBC announced the series itself was dead. The news is kind of a high-profile bust for NBC, which has seen some of its misfortunes turn around this season.

That leads to the second item, in which NBC's hit "Revolution" will run through November or December, then get shelved for nearly two months and not return until March 25.

Though somewhat uneven during its initial season, "Revolution" has been a solid hit ratings-wise for NBC, especially when DVR/online numbers are factored in (nearly 5 million extra viewers). So to pull it until after February sweeps makes little sense -- you risk losing viewers who get out of the habit of tuning in or forget key plot points.

Meanwhile, NBC debuts the new drama "Deception" on Jan. 7 and "1600 Penn" on Jan. 10. "The Voice," with new coaches Usher and Shakira temporarily filling in for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, also returns in late March. That's less of a surprise because "The Voice" always delivers a big audience for the network and can probably use some breathing room between seasons.

Other returning shows include "The Biggest Loser" on Jan. 6; "Smash" on Feb. 5; "Community" on Feb. 7 (about darn time, NBC); and "Celebrity Apprentice" on March 3. Eva Longoria's reality dating show "Ready for Love" debuts at the end of March.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: I hope you like music. ABC airs the Country Music Awards tonight at 8 p.m., opposite a new "X-Factor" on Fox and  "The Voice" on NBC.

Non-music selections include a new night of stuff on CBS, starting with "Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men" and followed by "Person of Interest" and "Elementary." The CW is new with "Vampire Diaries" and "Beauty and the Beast" from 8-10 p.m.

On cable, there's new episodes of "It's Always Sunny" and "The League" from 10-11 p.m. on FX.