i Need Media
Saving NBC’s comedy lineup in a few simple tweaks
By Matthew Singer 10/24/2013
NBC has a funny problem on its hands. Its Thursday night comedy ratings are in the toilet.
It’s not hard to understand why, really. In the last year, NBC has lost its ratings evergreen (The Office) and its critical darling (30 Rock), leaving it with the terminally underappreciated Parks and Rec (which is bleeding cast members left and right) and new series (Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show) banking entirely on the recognizability of stars the public stopped caring about at least a decade ago.
Television isn’t rocket science, though. If the rubes over at CBS can figure it out, surely anyone can. I’m here to help, NBC. Email me later for information on where to send the check.
Look, sometimes you have to swallow your pride, and sometimes pride tastes like chaw and Slim Jims. Instead of playing to the coasts, perhaps it would behoove you, NBC, to consider whom the heartland finds funny. Sure, Sean Hayes may have portrayed the first openly gay man anyone in Kansas felt comfortable allowing into their homes, but Will and Grace ended in 2006, and Modern Family has not one but two gay fathers. Jeff Dunham, though? Have you seen the things he does with those puppets? Man, I’d watch that for hours.
de facto Breaking Bad spinoff
Apparently, NBC severely overestimated the intrinsic likability of Michael J. Fox. Not that he isn’t likable, but someone forgot that the last time he was a hot TV property was back in the Reagan ’80s, when being a “young Republican” was considered the height of awesomeness. Y’know what is hot right now? Breaking Bad. That show ended just as a lot of people were discovering it, leaving high demand for anything related to that universe. And you’ve got Betsy Brandt, aka Marie Schrader, standing right there! You don’t need to do a full spinoff (hear that, AMC?), just throw in random nods here and there. Maybe their nephew “Wynn” (R.J. Mitte) comes to stay with them for an episode? Hey, who’s that mysterious lawyer that just moved in next door, fresh off the bus from Nebraska? Who’s that knocking at the door? What the — Henry (Dean Norris)? I thought you were buried in the desert somewhere!
Fairytale adaptations are all the rage right now, for reasons that make me frightened for the future of this country. Still, popular is popular, which NBC is well aware of: Grimm is one of the network’s left-field success stories. No one, however, has yet to mine the genre for its comic value. Rumplestiltskin’s Comedy Jam has a certain ring to it, no?
OK, this is purely selfish on my part, but when the fall TV season kicked back up, I was forced to confront the fact that ABC had canceled my favorite network comedy. Maybe NBC would have better luck selling it to a wider audience? Eh, who am I kidding? They’d just screw it up worse.F
I Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.