Tuesday, May 8, 2012

N(obody's)B(een)C(checking Out) NBC This Year
How to Make Must-See-TV Again

As 30 Rock joked(?) a couple weeks back, NBC "can no longer use the words: hit, great show, fun, or broadcast television." That's certainly not far from the truth for the 4th-placed network which is no longer dominated by Dick Wolf's Law & Order franchise and successful multi-cam comedies (re: Seinfeld and Friends).

This coming season will be former Showtime chief Robert Greenblatt's first full-year overseeing the development slate. (He certainly had some say last year especially with Smash, originally envisioned for Showtime, but now he is fully seated in his current role.) Will this spell the end of some Peacock network programs that began before him to clean house or will NBC continue to remain loyal to the few cult-favs (albeit low-rated) programs?

Let's take a look at the current state of the potentially returning NBC shows:

30 Rock: Returning but for a reduced episode, final season.* This NBC stalwart series will get a final 7th season to give America a chance to say good-bye to the zany (and still Emmy-bait) gang of TGS. Update: Unfortunately, my above assumption was true. I'm usually a fan of being right, but this one stings.

The Apprentice: Returning.* No one self-promotes like The Donald and that's gotta save NBC money somewhere down the road so expect another celebrity edition to return next year. Update: I was correct that once again Trump got re-hired. (See, there's this catchphrase from the show where Donald Trump tells people that either "You're hired," or "You're fired." I was doing a riff on that....)

Are You There, Chelsea?: Not returning.* Best part of the show was Lauren Lapkus, who played the sweet, awkward roomie. Worst part of the show: Everything else ties. NBC will instead keep Chelsea Handler happy (is that even possible?) by renewing her E! talk and scripted After Lately. Update: The answer to that question is, "She is not."

Awake: Not returning.* Sadly, this Inception-inspired twist on a classic cop show will not be returning. However, I'd like to think that in the show's green-world, Awake will continue. Update: Sadly, this show is indeed taking a permanent nap. :/

Betty White's Off Their Rockers: On the fence.* I could definitely see this turning into a summer series since it premiered so strong. And who doesn't want to see old people talking dirty with young people in earshot? Although if that diva Betty White becomes too expensive, SNL showed us that Maya Angelou could make for a great replacement host. Update: Coming back and off-their-rockier than ever.

Bent: Not returning.* Great chemistry between Amanda Peet and David Walton was not enough to save this comedy that NBC burned off over 3 weeks or as I like to refer to it The Free Agents Conundrum. Update: Now officially cancelled, maybe Amanda Peet can do that Studio 60 movie?

Best Friends Forever: Not returning.* Only aired 4 out of the 6 episodes before shelving the remaining 2 for one-night only on Fri, June 1st. Update: Maybe it shoulda been called Best Friends for 4 Weeks?

The Biggest Loser: Returning.* Ratings have been lower than ever especially with the departure of Jillian Michaels, but NBC will not want to let go of this up-lifting show. However, I only predict one cycle next year instead of the traditional two. Update: Sign of NBC shedding weight? I was correct that there will only be one cycle next year.

Community: Returning.* The study-group should be able to see another year at Greendale High thanks to a groundswell of fan support. However, some people are anticipating a reduced episode order aka not the standard 22 episodes a season. Update: Despite being banished to Fridays at 8:30pm and the fate of Dan Harmon's involvement, Community was renewed for 13 eps... for now.

Chuck: Cancelled/Not returning. Ran 5-seasons and was able to end the show on their own terms. Subway certainly was a pronounced sponsor and helped save it from cancellation for quite some time. Hence, it might be interesting to note that the inventor of the $5 foot long is currently showing similar sponsorship to a new NBC cult fav...

Fashion Star: Not returning.* This attempt at bringing the cable-power of Project Runway to broadcast TV may have sold out many of the designs found in stores, but most likely won't return to NBC next year. Also, I'm pretty sure Jessica Simpson's still pregnant and will be outta commission for a 2nd year. Update: NBC decided to bring this show back (to my surprise), however with the caveat that Jessica Simpson change her finally birthed baby's name.

The Firm: Not returning.* NBC has been burning off this show on Saturday nights, which definitely means the end. Also, the show was terribly produced so there's that. Update: NBC was pretty, um, solid on their decision there. (I really feel like I should have been able to find a pun though.)

Free Agents: Cancelled/Not returning. The charming duo of Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn was one of the first cancelled shows of the 2011-2012 season. However, I just discovered that the 4 unaired episodes are now available on Hulu.

Grimm: Returning. America will see more fractured, fairy tale crimes but hopefully less really cheesy monster special effects.

Harry's Law: Not returning.* Kathy Bates is a great lead in a perfectly adequate show. However, the only ones who are watching tend to be even older than the very talented Ms. Bates. Update: Officially disbarred.

Law & Order: SVU: Returning.* The only remaining member of the once-dominating L&O franchise should return as it makes a bunch of money from syndication. Update: Officially returning and probably still going to get called Law & Order: SUV by some people.

The Marriage Ref: Not returning.* This show somehow got a short 2nd season reprieve more so not to upset the holy Jerry Seinfeld, but don't expect it to come back. Unless, they take my suggestion and have a permanent panel of Larry David, Madonna, and Ricky Gervais since that was the only actual funny episode. (Mostly due to Gervais and David outright mocking the format.) Update: NBC and the show cited irreconcilable differences.

The Office: Returning.* Even with the departure of Steve Carell last year, the current 8th season is still higher rated than any of NBC's other comedies. Although, nobody's quite sure which of the current cast will return. And then there's that awful matter of the alleged Dwight beet farm spin-off. Update: Officially returning for 22 episodes with all the cast sans Mindy Kaling and James Spader.

The Playboy Club: Cancelled/Not returning. The very first cancelled new show of the current season was unable to procure one of their own sacred keys to unlock the door for a second season, let alone a back-9 episode order.

Parenthood: Returning, but at once again a reduced episode order.* This heart-warming show will most likely get a 4th season as it seems to surge in the ratings at the beginning and ends of the season and the incredibly talented ensemble. Update: Braverhood clan reunites this fall for another 15 episodes.

Parks & Recreation: Returning.* Leslie Knope and company will be returning as it is the only show that has a shot at replacing The Office's primo Thursday, 9pm time slot one day. Some people are speculating on a reduced episode order, but I choose to believe, 'Knope!' Update: We officially will follow the residents of Pawnee for another 22 episodes.

Prime Suspect:  Cancelled/Not returning. Maybe it shoulda been called That Darn Hat! as Maria Bello's feisty fedora seemed to get more exposure at the start of the show than anything else. NBC aired all 13 eps and the show really was starting to find a voice for its lone female NYC detective in a department dominated by men (especially in the super-tension-filled 8th ep titled "Underwater").

Rock Center with Brian Williams: Not returning.* Although, there are few great newscasters than can also be funny (as his many SNL/30 Rock appearances have told us), I have a strong feeling that NBC will have Mr. Williams stick with his day job. Or rather, his other evening job. Update: I was totally wrong on this one. Rock Center is now most definitely returning. Even airing at the 10pm slot on Thursdays. I credit his interview with Marcel the Shell.

Saturday Night Live: Returning.* This classic comedy New York institution will return for a 38th season just in time to comment on the remaining days of the 2012 presidential election. Only real question revolves around the rumor that the current 37th season will be the final one for Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, and, most sadly, Kristen Wiig?

The Sing-Off: On the fence.* I, personally, feel that NBC shouldn't oversaturate their only successful show, The Voice, by having 2 cycles on a year, (Remember when ABC aired Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 11 nights of the week?) which is why this slightly different singing-competition show will return in the fall. Update: NBC does want to see subject America to double the chair spinning this year and decided to axe The Sing Off.

Smash: Returning. The super expensive launch of the show hasn't really matched up with ratings expectations, but has massively improved the timeslot versus a year ago. Was already picked up, but I imagine another shorter 15-episode season. My personal hope for the 2nd season is that it lives up to the potential seen occasionally here and there, is smarter, and contains less Leo and Ellis.

Up All Night: On the fence.* I truly hope this hilarious and aww-inducing comedy returns next year. The star power of Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph, and Will Arnett in front of and the almighty Lorne Michaels behind the camera should be enough to save the show. Update: Woot, woot. Up All Night is the one NBC show whose future was debatable that I am pleased to announce is returning.

The Voice: Returning.* The ratings speak for themselves as this NBC's only actual version of a mass-appealing hit. (I checked with the 30 Rock legal team to double check that I can use 'hit' here.) Update: Except even more chair spinning when The Voice returns in both the fall and spring.

Whitney: Not returning.* The internet seemed to really not like Ms. Cummings' multi-cam sitcom. However, the ratings were better than most of NBC's other critical darlings and it slowly became actually funny in the 2nd half of their season. However, with the recently announced deal of Whitney leading her own half-hour talk show on E! to pair with Chelsea Lately, I feel that Whitney will be no more. And, unfortunately, her new talk show has one less obvious title possibility. Update: The biggest (and weirdly, controversial) surprise pick-up of NBC. I have faith that the show can keep up the funny.

Who Do You Think You Are?: Returning.* A reality show that teaches you about history? Yes, this smart PBS-y show works for NBC on Fridays and is a good prestige for the network. Plus, I can't think of which celebrity wouldn't say 'no' to an all-expenses paid trip to their respective motherlands. Update: Another one I was totally wrong about. WDYTYA? will not be back next year. Here's hoping the season finale with Paula Deen isn't a cliffhanger.

*Based off my many-tv-viewing-years educated/informed opinion

What shows do you most want to return and why? Also, stay tuned for my analysis of which potential new NBC shows are the buzziest.

No comments:

Post a Comment