Powered by i.TV
September 2, 2014

Will New Shows From J.J. Abrams, David E. Kelley and Jerry Bruckheimer Save NBC?

by Laura Prudom, posted Jan 11th 2010 2:00PM
NBC just can't seem to get its peacocks in a row lately.

After announcing the controversial (but unsurprising) decision to pull Jay Leno from its primetime line-up at the TCAs this weekend, the network will look to scripted dramas to fill at least some of the void.

According to Variety, NBC has already greenlit half-a-dozen drama pilots in hopes of quickly filling the 10 PM slot.

But will it be enough to save the network in the ratings race? Business Week reports that NBC has seen a 4.6 percent drop in primetime viewers since Leno began airing at 10, causing a domino effect that resulted in a dip in audience numbers for NBC's affiliate news stations and late night programming.NBC just can't seem to get its peacocks in a row lately.

After announcing the controversial (but unsurprising) decision to pull Jay Leno from its primetime line-up at the TCAs this weekend, the network will look to scripted dramas to fill at least some of the void.

According to Variety, NBC has already greenlit half-a-dozen drama pilots in hopes of quickly filling the 10 PM slot.

But will it be enough to save the network in the ratings race? Business Week reports that NBC has seen a 4.6 percent drop in primetime viewers since Leno began airing at 10, causing a domino effect that resulted in a dip in audience numbers for NBC's affiliate news stations and late night programming.

But pilots from industry heavyweights such as J.J. Abrams and Jerry Bruckheimer could see an upsurge in viewership; at least, that's what NBC is hoping, as it's ordered 18 pilots in total for the 2010-11 TV season, the most since 2003.

Jerry Bruckheimer seems to have become as good at creating hit shows as he is at making blockbuster movies; he currently has eight series on the air, and NBC must be hoping he can work his magic on a ninth with 'Chase.' The pilot will center on a group of U.S. marshals who patrol the southwest, and is being produced with Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Prods.

Another drama hopeful is 'The Event,' an enigmatically titled show with an even more enigmatic summary; "an everyman lead character uncovers mysterious circumstances that are part of a larger mystery." Sounds mysterious. Universal Media Studios is producing with Steve Stark as executive producer.

David E. Kelley used to be a primetime mainstay in the late '80s and early '90s thanks to his legal and medical dramas (including 'L.A. Law,' 'Chicago Hope,' 'Ally McBeal' and 'Boston Legal'). Kelley will be returning to the courtroom for NBC with 'Kindreds,' a pilot involving an ex-patent lawyer and his associates who form a new practice. Kelley is known for his unique blend of dramedy and offbeat characters, but can another legal drama truly join the ranks of water-cooler TV in 2010?

Belatedly jumping on the 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' bandwagon, NBC also announced that J.J Abrams will direct the pilot of 'Undercovers,' a series about a husband and wife CIA team. Abrams will also executive produce the show with Bryan Burk and Josh Reims. The show has reportedly been garnering some excitement at the network since NBC became attached, and if it can harness the innovation and taut storytelling that made Abrams a hit with 'Alias' and 'Lost,' it's likely to be exactly the kind of ratings winner NBC needs to get back into the primetime race.

'House' creator David Shore will team with Steve Carell to executive-produce a remake of 'The Rockford Files,' the classic '70s detective series. The lead has yet to be announced, but with credentials like those behind the wheel, it's certain to generate some buzz.

The latest in a long line of UK to US imports, 'Prime Suspect,' a drama about a female detective (played in Britain by Helen Mirren) will get an American makeover, and if NBC can find an actress of Mirren's caliber to star, it could prove to be an undeniable ratings draw.

Proving that procedurals are like roaches and will never die, NBC is also developing a fourth iteration of the popular 'Law and Order' franchise, this time set in Los Angeles. As repetitive as many procedurals are, they're often to be found at the head of the ratings pack, and NBC needs another solid tentpole to recoup its losses after this latest primetime snafu.

While it's unlikely that any of these pilots would be ready for a pick-up before the fall premiere season, there are a couple of alternatives to patch up NBC's spring line-up after the Winter Olympics. One pilot, starring ex-'Doctor Who' David Tennant has already filmed, according to NBC's Angela Bromstad, and would "theoretically" be available to be picked up as a series this spring. Critical darling 'Friday Night Lights' is also available to make a reappearance on NBC's schedule as early as March after finishing its DirecTV run, though the woefully underwatched drama is unlikely to provide the kind of ratings the network needs to reassure affiliates of its bankability.

This recent primetime/late night shake-up proves that NBC is undoubtedly in a state of flux, and it remains to be seen whether any of these pilots can patch the leak and save the network's primetime line-up from sinking altogether. NBC showed innovation with its choice to air the same show in the same primetime slot every weeknight -- the choice backfired on them, but no-one can accuse the network of being unwilling to try new things.

Will NBC be able to rise out of its fourth-place slump and recapture the ratings success it enjoyed with its "Must See TV" line-up in the late '90s and early '00s? Do any of these pilots pique your interest or will they have you reaching for the remote? Give us your thoughts below!

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

Follow Us

From Our Partners