Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Column: How NBC has managed to not just fall down, but has managed to trip down a big-ass starcase: Part 2

This second edition is long overdue, but most non-professional bloggers will gladly take life experiences over reclusively blogging. The entry was written once, but not finished, and then finished several weeks later, only to be completed at a location without internet, and then sat on for a few months, so some comments in here will be dated (see: present tense usage for shows like Perfect Couples, and the odd addition of comments about the short-lived Paul Reiser Show). Regardless of that fact, I’ll apologize for this delay…

Now, I’ve already talked at some length about the other shows, and I hope I can keep my Thursday comments short, but I’m not going to make any guarantees because this is the NBC lineup that I feel the strongest about...

Community was very good in its first season, but it became extremely hit-or-miss. My biggest beef is with their use of Chevy Chase. His character is easily what I dislike the most. The constant immaturity and neediness of his character got old after one or two episodes, and now it’s all he does on the show. Admittedly, I’ve continued to watch Community, but NBC almost loses me for the rest of the night because Perfect Couples* is on at 7:30.

*Try sitting through an episode of this show…

Perfect Couples is 100% unwatchable*. Do you know a single person who actually enjoys that show? If you do, then you know someone who has a terrible sense of humor. The single reason anyone still watches the show is because of the show it precedes.

*NBC agreed and canceled the show

The Office is still very popular, but it’s taken quite a long time for it to return to a consistently funny product. I don’t really feel like I need to go too in depth into this show as it’s a staple for NBC and for the most part it has gotten back to a point of knowing what you’re going to get each week.

I would argue that Parks & Recreation is the NBC’s best show on Thursday night (and possibly the whole network). Rob Lowe and [especially] Adam Scott have been welcome editions to an already great show. Yet, NBC decided to delay the premiere of its third season.
About the only [theoretically] smart move NBC made was dropping the third hour drama off their Thursday lineup. I say in theory, because they need a watchable product to keep viewers attention. 30 Rock and Outsourced got the time slot, but neither of those shows are doing anything to keep my attention following a strong 8 o’clock hour (The Office and Parks & Rec), but I almost forget to watch it because of how uninspiring the 9 o’clock hour has been. I’m somebody who had always enjoyed 30 Rock, but I’ve stopped watching, and, consequently, stopped watching Outsourced.
NBC gambled, and I think they lost. Previously decent shows like 30 Rock and Community have been unentertaining (please only people who at one point enjoyed the show make a comment, because if you’ve always disliked it, your opinion holds little water). Add a terrible new show [Perfect Couples] in the mix in with Outsourced* which isn’t any good either (regardless of how attractive I find Rebecca Hazelwood and Pippa Black**) and really only The Office*** and Parks and Recreation and you’re left with a lineup that’s almost flatlined.

*Newsweek had an article which specifically talked about Eastbound & Down, but mentioned (if I recall correctly) Outsourced, and how a show like that can only be successful on a network like HBO. I 100% agree because Outsourced is completely lame because of the FCC’s regulations on regular networks.

**Which always makes think of “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” which was horrendously bad.

***How big of a drop off was there following Jim and Pam getting together. Thankfully, they gave up on forcibly advancing their story line because every episode they did that in was awful. Every fan of The Office wanted them to be together, were happy they got together, but will admit that there was something off with them.

Part of the problem is that NBC has failed to come up with any new shows worth a damn. I’ll give you Parks & Recreation for being a successful new show they’ve created (given it’s consistency), but what does NBC do after seeing the great ratings following its second season? They cut it down to a half season show, and move its season premiere back to January of the following year. Maybe I can understand their mindset that people loved it before, and the midseason additions to lineups tend to fall on deaf ears so the people who normally wouldn’t watch the new midseason additions would tune in, but you can easily make an argument that NBC’s hallowed “Must-See TV” Thursday lineup should’ve been going from the fall.

This is the same network that idiotically aired Freaks & Geeks Saturday nights when it’s target audience wouldn’t have ever thought of staying home to watch it (except for me…because I did that). Consequently, they never really gave it a chance only to watch it live on as a cult favorite and to see virtually every actor from that show go on to at least regular acting jobs down the road (with maybe the exception of Neal (Samm Levine)) if not near stardom.

They pretty much pulled the plug on Friday Night Lights if it weren’t for DirecTV coming in to share production costs (at least that’s my interpretation of what went down), and now it’s one of the best series’ of the last decade in my mind.

Have you watched Southland? That show is absolutely fantastic, but NBC gave it a half season and never bothered with it after that only to hand it over to TNT. Not that this replaced Southland, but somehow they think The Cape* is more worthy of a timeslot than Southland?

*Try sitting through an episode of this show…

This is a list of the new shows NBC has aired this season: The Event, The Cape, Harry’s Law, Outsourced, Perfect Couples, and Law & Order: Los Angeles (which is already killing off main characters), and The Paul Reiser Show*. That’s not an impressive list of shows.

*Seriously?! That should have been the sign that NBC was throwing in the towel because even if this were 1996 Paul Reiser wouldn’t’ve been able to save that time slot, and 15 years later his new show lasted all of TWO EPISODES before getting pulled.

NBC created a brand of TV from their Thursday night lineup. Shows know they made it when they moved to Thursday. Their “Must See TV” was actually must see, but now a minority of their shows keep bringing me back week-in and week-out.

My upbringing without cable probably makes me somewhat of a romantic for network television, so I’m sad to see a once hallowed network and lineup fall so far from where it once was. NBC could come back without much effort because I honestly don’t think the other main networks are that much better than NBC, it’s just the crap NBC’s churning out is that much worse.

Get your shit together NBC…

1 comment:

Josh "Old Man" Duggan said...

Love the tags.

I actually liked season two of Community more, but only because it got so much weirder.

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