THE BLOG
10/15/2014 10:27 am ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

NBC Wonders Why Bother to Sign On

I was at the pop up "Central Perk" last week in SoHo with my niece. That's right, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Friends, Warner Bros. and Eight O'Clock coffee (which I'm told makes a tolerable decaf) has combined to open a mock coffee shop that Jennifer Aniston and her buddies used to hang out in on the television show, Friends. As great or ridiculous as it may sound, depending on your age and television preference, it's a smash hit. The line was around three blocks. Was it worth waiting in line for two hours? My 15-year-old niece says yes, so... I guess there's your answer. Friends, Seinfeld and ER were the final holdouts to an almost 20-year run of NBC dominance. Now, NBC wonders every day why they should bother "signing on". Yes, "signing on", an old school television term from before there was 24-hour television. Is NBC better off playing an old fashioned test pattern?

For seven years NBC tried to tell everyone that 30 Rock was a hit. It was not. Critics enjoyed it but no one was rabidly watching it like Modern Family. The Blacklist is the ONLY holdover for new shows from last season and that is only good because James Spader is truly "the man". The rest of the cast is horrid. Some of the worst acting ever put on television and that's saying something. The Blacklist is a fun show and it is a success but it is a testament to the great James Spader and how at this point he could be in anything and it would work. It's not as "must see" as say, ABC's Scandal.

On Sunday night, NBC has Football for half of the season. That brings in a wad of revenue. Mondays they have The Voice. That also does extremely well. Tuesdays The Voice again. So, their sports or reality shows do very well, but perhaps that's where NBC should stay. Robert Greenblatt, the Head of Entertainment continues to try and put out subpar content compared to the other Networks.

NBC has five new shows this season. So far, every one is a dud. On Tuesday nights there will be a new show called Marry Me. The promotions look really bad. Marry Me will open for About a Boy based on the book by Nick Hornby and the movie with Hugh Grant. About a Boy does just enough in the ratings that NBC gave it a go for a second season. My prediction is that Marry Me will be a disaster and About a Boy will suffer. Unless NBC does what they've been doing for so long and just give their Tuesday nights the green light like Parks and Rec and Community. Shows that are just, "o.k." because they have nothing else. Back in the '70's, The Odd Couple, which is now a classic was known as a five-year bomb. That's what every NBC comedy has been for the past 15 years. They are all just OK.

On Wednesday nights, NBC has promoted the heck out of The Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing. This is a bad show. I have written about this show previous to this article. As of last week and the 3rd airing of TMOL, NBC has ordered four more scripts. Ordering four more scripts for something instead of giving it a full green light is basically saying, "we have nothing and this show isn't the worst thing we've ever put on".

On Thursday Nights, NBC's old glory night, the new Bad Judge with Kate Walsh airs before a new show called A to Z. Bad Judge is a "comedy" version of The Mysteries of Laura. The premise is quite similar. The lead characters are both over 40 (very pretty) women and doing what are usually considered male roles. They both look horrible during the day, but at night they dress hot. They are both sarcastic and badass but have civil jobs with the city and most importantly, they don't play by the rules. Yeah. Bad Judge is not a good show. It's not a bad show either. I've seen it twice now and, like all of NBC's shows, it's just ok. But that's it and it should not be renewed. I just cannot see a time where I'm going to purchase the first season of Bad Judge on DVD or Netflix. Now, A to Z is quite interesting. That is not a bad show at all and on another network might thrive. The pilot is one of the best pilots I've ever seen. I mean, every now and again, I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy. This one was good and worked for me. I didn't think it would hold up in the second episode and for a while it did not, but the end of the episode worked itself out and it got me again. Funny thing though, the ratings for A to Z are absolutely horrible. Maybe the worst ever. Bad Judge is no help. And, I guess when it goes up against ABC's Scandal and CBS's Thursday Night Football, it's an uphill battle to assured cancellation.

The only thing NBC has done completely right this season is airing old Saturday Night Live episodes at 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays to celebrate SNL's 40th anniversary. Those have been a blast to watch each week.

CBS has a serious new ratings hit with Madam Secretary and Scorpion, let alone the Big Bang Theory, CSI and NCIS. ABC has a serious new ratings hit with How to Get Away with Murder and the CW even has The Flash. As reported Monday, Saturday Night Live hit a season low this past Saturday with the great Bill Hader as the host. That would seem tough to do. Everything is going wrong for NBC. If I were Robert Greenblatt I would give James Spader some serious Big Bang Theory money right now or your network will have nothing left but to "sign off".

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