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April 24, 2014

Is NBC Dead?

by Kelly Woo, posted Sep 30th 2009 5:00PM
HeroesGet a hit drama in here, stat!

Just a couple weeks into the fall television season, the prognosis is not looking good for NBC. To wit:

• The 'Jay Leno Show' experiment at 10PM is flailing. The premiere attracted 18 million viewers; now it averages in the 5-6 million range. And its getting trashed by the critics, like Nancy Franklin of the New Yorker, who scathingly writes, "The forensic evidence so far indicates that a kind of death is taking place before our eyes; the only question is whether what we're witnessing is an accident or a crime scene.

• The once-beloved 'Heroes' started season 4 with its weakest premiere numbers yet, falling an astonishing 46 percent from last year's opener. Consider that season 2's premiere netted 17 million viewers. NBC would kill for just half that these days.







HeroesGet a hit drama in here, stat!

Just a couple weeks into the fall television season, the prognosis is not looking good for NBC. To wit:

• The 'Jay Leno Show' experiment at 10PM is flailing. The premiere attracted 18 million viewers; now it averages in the 5-6 million range. And its getting trashed by the critics, like Nancy Franklin of the New Yorker, who scathingly writes, "The forensic evidence so far indicates that a kind of death is taking place before our eyes; the only question is whether what we're witnessing is an accident or a crime scene.

• The once-beloved 'Heroes' started season 4 with its weakest premiere numbers yet, falling an astonishing 46 percent from last year's opener. Consider that season 2's premiere netted 17 million viewers. NBC would kill for just half that these days.

• Returning favorite 'Law and Order: SVU' was down 34 percent

• New drama 'Mercy' notched a weak second place last Wednesday with 8.2 million viewers, and the big, action-filled 'Trauma' arrived nearly DOA Monday night with 6.9 million.

• Acclaimed new comedy 'Community' slipped from its premiere numbers by 26 percent. Even worse, NBC slid down to fourth place last Thursday, thanks to Fox's combination of 'Bones' and 'Fringe.'

Once the home of outstanding, Emmy Award-winning 10PM dramas like 'ER,' 'L.A. Law' and 'Hill Street Blues,' NBC seems to be on life support, surviving on cheap talk, reality and game shows. Perhaps it's too late and NBC is done for.

We really hope not, so here are some ideas on how to resuscitate the network:

1. Move 'The Jay Leno Show' to 8PM -- and trim it to half an hour
Look, we'd love if the show went away for good, but it's not going to happen. Leno's humor isn't too risque for 8PM, and can be paired with comedies ('Community' and 'Parks and Recreation' could move from Thursday), half-hour game shows or a 90-minute 'Biggest Loser.' This would open up the 10PM hour for great dramas again, speaking of which ...

Friday Night Lights2. Make great dramas, then treat them well

If 'Mercy' and 'Trauma' are your best offerings, NBC, that's just sad. 'Parenthood' looks promising, but it's for midseason and the lead role is being recast. But worse is how the network has treated its acclaimed dramas. 'Friday Night Lights' barely earned renewal and was banished to the dead zone that is, well, Friday nights. A similar fate awaits 'Southland.' 'Kings' was hidden on Saturdays over the summer, then canceled. If NBC is really dying, then doesn't it at least want to go out in style?

3. Give up on the Thursday comedy block, because it isn't working

'The Office' and '30 Rock' are cruising, but the Thursday edition of 'Saturday Night Live,' 'Parks and Recreation' and 'Community' are struggling. Use some common sense: If you're getting crushed, move out of the way. The 8PM hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays look a bit less crowded.

4. At least air the good kind of reality TV
'The Biggest Loser' is fine; 'The Celebrity Apprentice' is gross. Take a page from corporate sibling Bravo, which developed its brand on 'Project Runway' (now on Lifetime) and 'Top Chef.' Heck, even their 'Real Housewives' franchise is better than most NBC reality shows ('I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here' ... really?!?).

battlestar galactica5. If there's absolutely nothing cooking, raid the pantry
NBC is part of a big corporation that includes sister networks Bravo, Syfy, USA and Oxygen. Why not re-air some of their acclaimed hits, like 'Battlestar Galactica' or 'Burn Notice'? Call it the Friday Night Rewind or something.


The future of NBC is uncertain, especially with rumors floating around that Comcast might buy a stake in the troubled network, though Comcast has denied the story.

What do you think: Is NBC dunzo, or can it be saved? Post your suggestions!


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