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October 1, 2014

How NBC Can Completely Destroy Itself

by Gary Susman, posted Jan 15th 2010 6:00PM
NBC is already doing a pretty good job of destroying itself, from its failure to develop new hit shows to the extraordinary bad will it's generated through the Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien fiasco. (indeed, whether you're on Team Jay or Team Coco, we all agree that NBC has screwed our guy over.)

Still, the fourth-place network is hanging in there, so clearly, there's a lot left to do if NBC is really going to destroy itself. While it's hard to come up with ideas that are even more smack-your-forehead stupid than the ones coming out of the NBC executive suites, we do have some suggestions.

•Do a 'Heroes' spinoff centered on Mohinder.

•'Community' and 'Parks and Recreation' are gradually coming into their own, but gradually is no good in the face of unforgiving Nielsen ratings, so cancel 'em both. (After all, Leno got just four months to prove himself in primetime; why insult him further by giving nobodies like Joel McHale and Amy Poehler more time than that?) It's not like there's a need to grow future hit sitcoms or preserve NBC's quarter-century tradition of a Thursday night comedy block.

•Reality is cheap, even when Donald Trump is involved. How about combining NBC's top reality hits, for 'Biggest Celebrity Loser Apprentice'?

•You have to show the talent who's boss, even when the talent is a TV producer who provided you with a long-running hit in the past. (That's why you scrapped 'ER' producer John Wells' 'Southland' mid-production, before airing even one episode of the second season, right?). Now that NBC has bought fall pilots from such heavy hitters as J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, and David E. Kelley, make sure to keep those guys on their toes and threaten them with cancellation every couple of weeks.

•Cat videos! They're all over YouTube, they're cheap, and anything people will watch for 30 seconds they'll watch for 30 minutes, right?

•More blatant product placement. You really want to give advertisers more bang for their buck, especially now that viewers use their DVRs to skip ads. There's tons of room for ad space on the front panels of talk show hosts' desks, or on characters' costumes (you could sew logo patches on them, like race car drivers' jumpsuits), or in text crawls at the bottom of the screen, below the omnipresent NBC peacock logo and the occasional pop-up urging viewers to watch this week's 'Trauma.'

'Mercy' is doing OK as a watered-down version of Showtime's 'Nurse Jackie.' How about a kinder, gentler, less bloody version of Showtime's 'Dexter'?

•Bring Bryant Gumbel back to the 'Today' show. The simmering tension between him and Matt Lauer as they jockey for news scoops (or for a position at Martha Stewart's right shoulder as she demonstrates how to make papier-mâché from muffin batter) will make for must-see viewing every morning.

•No need to hire more women or people of color at 'Saturday Night Live.' Kenan Thompson can still play all the black characters, Fred Armisen can play all the non-black-but-still-ethnic parts, and Kristen Wiig isn't totally overexposed or anything. Oh, and hire more athletes and vacant starlets to host. Those people are always funny (and good at reading cue cards).

•It's so much easier to remake an old show than come up with a new idea. 'Knight Rider' and 'Bionic Woman' worked so well, and you have 'Prime Suspect' and 'Rockford Files' on deck. How about some other NBC chestnuts? Say, 'Matlock.' Or 'Cheers.' Who says lightning can't strike in the same place twice?

•'Law & Order: Mounted Police Unit.' You know, like the other spinoffs, but with horses! And instead of that chung-chung sound? Clop-clop!

•Why not import some of the best shows from NBC's sister networks on cable? Like Bravo's 'The Fashion Show,' or SyFy's 'Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.'

•Bring back the XFL.

•Keep Jeff Zucker in charge for three more years. (Oh, wait...)

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