For the first time since 2004, NBC finished the traditional TV season in first place, in the coveted 18-49 demo that is. Obviously it was a good year for the network.
The Voice is still making singing competitions relevant, Sunday Night Football is their equivalent of a summer blockbuster (airing every week), and the Winter Olympics came around again this year. Plus, The Blacklist had a solid first season and NBC looks like they are starting to part ways with well-loved but little watched series like Community, which was cancelled and then resurrected by Yahoo and Parenthood, which will be airing a shortened final season this fall.
As much as I love these shows, these farewells at least make sense from a business standpoint. NBC’s renewals, greenlights, and scheduling decisions haven’t always been so seemingly logical though. Over the last few years the network has struggled to find scripted series with any real lasting power, which is only made more evident by their 25% freshman series survival rate.
Here’s the year-by-year breakdown – 2010-2011: 10%, 2011-2012: 33%, 2012-2013: 30%, 2013-2014: 27%. And here’s a look at those shows:
Up All Night
About A Boy
|Chase Law & Order: Los Angeles
Perfect Couples The Cape
The Event The Paul Reiser Show
Bent Best Friends Forever
The Firm Free Agents
The Playboy Club Prime Suspects
Are You There, Chelsea? 1600 Penn
Animal Practice Deception
Do No Harm Go On
Guys With Kids The New Normal
Dracula Growing Up Fisher
Ironside Sean Saves The World
The Michael J. Fox Show Welcome to the Family
All networks are guilty of airing shows that just don’t work out, but most networks cancel them sometime between the airing of their 1st and 22nd episode. NBC’s issues have run a bit deeper than that though. On more than one occasion they’ve been stuck with a show that has either internally combusted or absolutely collapsed in ratings in its second season, i.e. Revolution, Smash, and Up All Night. (Harry’s Law and Whitney also only lasted two seasons, but their rise and fall were less dramatic.)
A sophomore series is supposed to be more of a sure bet, it’s the freshman series that are supposed to be the gamble. However, over the last four years NBC has been in an awkward predicament of trying to launch new shows while trying to prevent other timeslots from crumbling around it. In fact, Grimm is the only show on the renewed list that has aired more than 2 seasons. Hence the reason NBC has spent the last few years struggling, they’ve had to continually start from scratch or settle for mediocre.
New comedies in particular remain elusive. If you’ve read any of the other parts of my current blog series you would know that this is an problem all other broadcast networks can sympathize with. In the last four years, NBC has aired and cancelled 16 new sitcoms. That’s a lot of un-funny, especially for the network known for “must see TV”.
Although to be fair, comedies haven’t been the only issue, much like ABC right now, NBC has in the past thrown a lot of things up at the wall hoping something would stick. Among the list of one-and-done series: a spin-off of Law & Order, a J.J. Abrams spy drama (Undercovers), a comedy with a monkey (Animal Practice), The Cape, which will only live on in infamy thanks to a Community joke, and Dracula.
But as I mentioned above, things are looking up for NBC. The Blacklist was a breakout hit for the network, The Voice continues to be solid in the reality show department, and Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. have assimilated themselves well with Dick Wolf’s other NBC offerings.
NBC’s launching six new shows this fall, three comedies and three dramas: Marry Me, Bad Judge, A to Z, State of Affairs, The Mysteries of Laura, and Constantine.
It’s a pretty standard spread for NBC. They’ve got a couple of rom com’s in A to Z and Marry Me, the latter of which I’ll be tuning into since it stars Casey Wilson and Ken Marino and was created by the folks from Happy Endings.
They’ve got a dash of the detective / legal / crime genre with Bad Judge and The Mysteries of Laura, both of which air on the lighter side of things. And that’s probably for the best, NBC might not be cable-dark, but they do have Law & Order: SVU and Hannibal.
I imagine with the success of The Blacklist, NBC figured they’d give another political thriller a try. However, State of Affairs stars Katherine Heigl so I’m not sure how likely it is to yield the same results.
And then there’s Constantine, NBC’s supernatural / sci-fi series for the fall. Constantine of course is another iteration of the comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics. Although you might better know the story from the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves.
And for your viewing pleasure, here’s NBC’s fall TV schedule, featuring both new and returning shows.