What happened to NBC? This is a serious question. A few years ago I had faith in the network; it seemed that it was committed to making sure it put quality programs back on the airwaves, not just insipid scripted shows or reality based ones – it actually wanted to make the audience smarter in the shows they watched.
For the 2006/2007 season they hit the airwaves hard with their fall lineup and had a slew of new original programming and from what I saw it was all good; they had Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Kidnapped, 30 Rock, & Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Almost all of their new shows were critically acclaimed and praised beyond belief, and there was not a reality show among them. I almost had faith in network TV again. But sadly, most of their new shows except Heroes and 30 Rock did not gain the viewship they deserved and were canceled despite this acclaim.
Last year, NBC’s lineup of new shows was not quite as strong, they were not quite as daring as the year before but they were still trying. For the 2007 season they premiered Bionic Woman, Chuck, Journeyman, Life & Lipstick Jungle. These shows were not quite as strong as the previous season, but were decently unique and have lasted longer than they might have otherwise because of the fear of the writer’s strike and the network knew they had no new programming waiting in the wings if they canceled these. The problem was Bionic Woman had the marks of a show tampered with by the network and ended up canceled and Journeyman was really good but too complex for most audiences and was canceled. My main problem was that the new shows they kept possibly didn’t deserve to be kept; Chuck I have no opinion of, but Life was far too strange and scattered to be kept in my opinion and Lipstick Jungle felt like nothing new or original to me – just another sad attempt at a Sex and the City. But again, NBC tried. Who knows what would have played out last season if it weren’t for the strike.
That brings us to the 2008 season. NBC’s lineup of new shows was interesting to say the least: My Own Worst Enemy, Kath & Kim, Knight Rider & Crusoe. I know that the strike probably effected the availability of new shows to some extent, but I kind of feel like NBC scraped the bottom of the barrel to get these shows.
From what I’ve seen My Own Worst Enemy is probably the best of the bunch, but it’s poorly executed. Beyond the good performance of Christian Slater the pilot was lack luster not leaving me with any reason to tune into the show again next week. Kath & Kim I dislike on concept – not what the show is actually about, but the fact that it is based on a show from I believe Australia or New Zealand. I wish Molly Shannon and Selma Blair the best but now that DVD makes international television shows to readily available I really don’t see the point of using the concept from another country’s show – the audience can see it by just getting the DVD’s. But either way, these are the better options for new shows on NBC.
Now we come to the bad options. Knight Rider. Maybe NBC got wind that the CW was doing a spin-off/sequel to 90210 and decided they needed to bring an old show back too, but Knight Rider? The testing-the-waters movie they did last season was terrible enough they decided to go ahead and launch it into a new series? This show has been panned by everyone and I do not expect it to last long as long as SAG does not strike.
That brings us to Cursoe. I have not seen this show yet as it premieres tonight, but from the few reviews I’ve read and what I know of the concept I really wish that they hadn’t made it. Robinson Cursoe is stuck on an deserted island for twenty years trying to get home ala Ulysses only Ulysses got to travel – Cursoe stayed put. My own doubts were echoed in several reviews I read that basically said the show was downright laughable.
I feel bad for NBC. They used to be the best network on television in my opinion. They had such greats as ER (when it was good, before the entire original cast left), Friends, Seinfeld, Scrubs, News Radio and a slew of other shows that will stand the test of time…now they are relying on Deal or No Deal as their ratings clincher.
I think Conan O’Brien put it best in the video below. Sorry NBC.