State of the Network: NBC (Part One)

Zack Rosenblatt ('09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor

As the networks begin to announce their line-ups for the 2009 Fall TV season, I thought it would be a great time to give an outlook on the state of each network.

Some questions that will be answered include:

How have the new series fared in their debuts? What are their chances of renewal?

What shows have been/will be renewed?

What shows are on the bubble?

What shows have been/will be canceled?

What are some of the upcoming new pilots for the network?

What shows, if any, have a shot at getting nominated for Emmys later in the year?

I decided to start this whole thing off with the only network in complete disarray (at least in terms of primetime television), none other than NBC.

[note: all Nielsen ratings are as of April 19]

NBC:

“New” series:

Kath & Kim

Ratings: Series Premiere- 7.46 million viewers, Season Average- 5.33 million

What the critics say: “…it’s a contender for the worst remake ever” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Analysis: This was just America’s latest attempt to adapt a popular television series from another country (Australia) only to fail miserably. The show starred Molly Shannon (“SNL”) as Kath and Selma Blair (Legally Blond) as her daughter Kim, both inept, immature and annoying woman looking for love (or something like that, who really cares though. Anyway, the genius minds that run NBC originally decided to give the show a full 22 episode run, only to cut it back down to 17 episodes (still too many). Considering NBC’s utter lack of quality in general, this show strangely has a chance at renewal. 

Chances of renewal: Slim to none

Knight Rider

Ratings: Series Premiere- 12.8 million viewers, Season Average- 6.1 million

What the critics say: “You’ve heard of artificial intelligence? How about no intelligence…” (Adam Buckman, New York Post)

Analysis: NBC’s second remake of the fall season came out of their own backyard, as they attempted to remake the 1982 David Hasselhoff starrer of the same name. Horrendous acting was the prime factor in dragging this woeful attempt at a television action series, and the cast was made up of no-name actors. The biggest “name” on the credits was Val Kilmer, as he voiced the main character-a car named KITT. If a talking, living car can’t lead a television series than what can?

Chances of renewal: Zero

My Own Worst Enemy-

Ratings: Series Premiere- 7.3 million viewers, Season Average- 5.21 million

What the critics say: “Far, far, far and away NBC’s best new pilot of the season and one of the best new shows of the season, on any network — commercial or cable.” (Verne Gray, Newsday)

Analysis: A rarity for this woebegone network, a highly entertaining, original series featuring a top notch cast. Although Christian Slater’s performance made the show’s intricate plot believable and watchable, it was that intricate plot that in the end made the show less appealing to the general public (although I have a strange feeling that this show would have thrived on another network). By the time the show was canceled, not enough people watched the show to even remember its existence.

Chances of renewal: Already canceled

Crusoe

Ratings: Series premiere- 7.38 million viewers, season average- 3.54 million

What the critics say: “Equal parts sly and stupid, rousing and ridiculous” (Glenn Garvin, Miami Herald)

Analysis:

This show really isn’t worth discussing too much. Basically to sum it all up: it was an interesting premise poorly executed and promoted, was relegated to Saturday nights and eventually canceled. This is just the most evident reason why NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman (and whoever else is in charge of programming on NBC) should be fired.

Chances of renewal: Already canceled

Kings

Ratings: Series premiere: 6.47 million viewers, Season Average- 4.34 million

What the critics say: “The acting at times is overdone, and some of the pivotal plot moments come across as downright hokey. ” (Debra Leithauser, Washington Post)

Analysis: The show, despite its interesting premise, decent reviews and the presence of Ian McShane (“Deadwood”), was dead on arrival. After premiering to a measly six million viewers, and three similarly bleak episodes, NBC essentially pulled the plug on “Kings” by moving it from its attractive Sunday night slot, to a deadly Saturday nightspot.

Chances of renewal: None, essentially already canceled with Saturday move

Parks and Recreation– (premiered April 9)

Ratings: Series premiere: 6.77 million, Second episode: 5.92 million

What the critics say– “It’s not a finished product yet, and Poehler and the writers need to find more ways to distinguish Leslie from Michael Scott, but funny forgives an awful lot.” (Alan Sepinwall, Newark Star-Ledger)

Analysis: From the minds of two of “The Office” creators, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, “Parks and Recreation” has only premiered two episodes to this point but so far the results haven’t been too promising. Eerily similar to “The Office”, “Parks” stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (essentially a female version of Michael Scott), the head of the Parks and Recreation department in a fictional Indiana town. Rashida Jones, an “Office” alum herself, co-stars along with a scene-stealing Aziz Ansari (Observe and Report). The first two episodes, while not fantastic, were enough to make the show worthy of renewal, especially considering the ratings struggles NBC’s “Office” and “30 Rock” endured upon their debuts.

Chances of renewal: Pretty good, as long as the ratings don’t get any worse

Southland– (premiered April 9)

9.72 million

Ratings– Series premiere: 9.86 million viewers, second episode: 9.58 million

What the critics are saying: “It’s compelling from minute one to credit roll–exciting, smart, realistic and brilliant, all in one brightly lit package.” (Randee Dawn, The Hollywood Reporter)

Analysis: In most other networks, less than ten million viewers might indicate a show to be “on the bubble”. Not at NBC, the network where 10 million viewers gets you first place on the weekly ratings. Their “new hit” is almost assured of renewal for a second season, or at the very least, a full 22-episode season order.

Chances of renewal: A near-lock, as it is the networks current top rated show

Emmy Chances

We can go right ahead and eliminate all but three of NBC’s newest series in terms of their Emmy chances, unless of course the Emmy voters are completely inept and they nominate “Kath and Kim” for best comedy series.

“Kings”- The show has gotten generally positive reviews, and if it had somehow managed to bring in even marginal viewership than Ian McShane may have been a candidate for his performance. But considering the shows impending cancellation and vastly declining viewership, I can’t call McShane anything more than a longshot.

“Southland”- Although this surprise “hit” has also managed decent reviews overall, its not nearly as prominent as some of the better drama series on network television right now.

“Parks and Recreation”- This “Office” replica is all but guaranteed a nomination or two. Specifically, Amy Poehler should secure a Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance as Leslie Knope. The voters have already proven their fondness for Poehler when the nominated her for “Saturday Night Live” last year. In addition to Poehler, “Parks” is also a [very] longshot for Best Comedy series, and I consider Aziz Ansari to be a dark horse in the best supporting category (I don’t necessarily expect him to be nominated, but his performance is noteworthy.