Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The sad story of NBC

With the recent pickups of Law & Order: LA, Outsourced, The Event, Chuck, and Chase, it would seem like NBC did great this season, their only canceled show being Outlaw. On closer look, however, it's more akin to survivors popping their heads out of an underground bunker to find a nuclear wasteland: they're alive, but in the worst possible circumstance.

Looking at the ratings, every show picked up, with the exception Outsourced and to an extent, Law & Order: LA and The Event, are doing terribly compared to shows on networks. On CBS, all of those shows would be surefire cancellations. On NBC, though, what should be failures are success on a network which has failed to launch a successful show in years. Year after year they pump money to develop shows, only to find themselves staring at low numbers. Their Leno experiment last year, an attempt to cut costs while maintaining average to low ratings, also failed.

This year NBC was going places--no medical shows and a slew of big projects. They grabbed up an Abrams spy show, a Bruckheimer procedural, another Dick Wolf procedural, the "next Lost," and an office comedy following The Office. Unfortunately, not only did none of the shows become breakout hits, Undercovers proved to be an utter ratings failure.

But regardless of how well this crop of shows are doing right now, their pickups shed more light on NBC's midseason future than anything else. Sadly, the fact that NBC wants more low-rated episodes means they have even less faith in their midseason lineup. Somehow, the future crop of shows are so bad that NBC doesn't think they can pull ratings between 1.5 and 2.

Unless NBC pulls off a miracle, it looks like they'll be stuck in this rut for a very long while. Aside from football and The Office, there's no show which appears remotely close to coming to the top. The solution for NBC, then, would be to churn out new shows--and severely lower the budgets to compensate for low ratings. In turn, fewer producers will want to turn to NBC, meaning the network will be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Well, here's to hoping NBC can pull out of this nosedive and deliver quality television show.
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