The NBC Thursday Dilemma

Congratulations to Carla Parnes of Gilbert, who won the tickets for the Harry Potter midnight show last night! Hope it was a great show!

Anyone who did get to any of the shows last night and want to shoot me their quick review, I’ll try to post them later on the blog. Or just leave it in the comments.

It’s been a crazy work schedule for me this week, so I didn’t post Wednesday. I’ve got a ton of news to go over, which I probably won’t get to all of today. But here’s the column that will run in Sunday’s PopRox column, the links come after the story:

In any business, when you’re pulling up the rear — the far, far rear — you need to be innovative to survive.

At the same time, you can’t be dumb about it. If you take chances that don’t work, you’ll only be digging yourself a deeper hole.

So when NBC announced this week it would schedule three hours of sitcoms every Thursday starting in January, is the last-place network being innovative or dumb?

THE ARGUMENT FOR INNOVATIVE

if shows are going to be as funny as community is, shouldn't we want to see more of them?

if shows are going to be as funny as community is, shouldn't we want to see more of them?

Take away those three letters that are all of a sudden entertainment world poison — NBC — and think: what would your reaction be if another network did this? If CBS added another hour of comedy to its dominant Monday-night lineup, wouldn’t you say it’s a good idea?

If ABC decided to add two more laughers to its critically loved Wednesday night comedy lineup, wouldn’t you nod in agreement?

Regardless of the network, last year’s NBC Thursday night comedy lineup of Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock was the funniest night of TV there was, broadcast or cable. Like Smilin’ Jack Ross said, these are the facts, and they are indisputable.

It would then stand to reason that we would want to see more of them.

On the subject, last week’s pen episode of Community is the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV this year. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth taking 20 minutes to check out.

THE ARGUMENT FOR DUMB

The lineup itself. You’re asking people to change their viewing habits completely — they aren’t used to watching sitcoms at 10:30 unless it’s a Seinfeld rerun.

Leaving a fledgling, still-finding-itself show like Outsourced there to rot at 10:30 p.m. when no one will have any idea it’s there is just plain crazy. Then again …

INNOVATIVE

not nearly as bad as i thought (hoped?) it would be

not nearly as bad as i thought (hoped?) it would be

By process of elimination, Outsourced is the only show NBC could put there in a three-hour comedy block scenario. The Office stays at 9 p.m., no questions asked, since it’s the network’s biggest scripted hit and has earned its beachhead.

Against all odds, Community is establishing a foothold at 8 p.m. and 30 Rock is enough of a draw to get people to watch at 10 p.m. Parks and Recreation has been mistreated by the network enough in the last six months and hasn’t been on the schedule since May. Debuting its new season at 10:30 would be the equivalent of waterboarding.

Debuting a promising new show like Perfect Couples at 10:30 would be like taking about $10 million and lighting it on fire.

That leaves Outsourced — and it could even be a good thing. The show has decent ratings so far, so maybe people will actually follow it to 10:30 p.m. The expectations will be pretty small, so it won’t need sky-high ratings to survive. If it has better-than-expected ratings, it will be the darling of the network, the show that helped the pilot program succeed.

DUMB

Too much of a good thing can be damaging. Last year NBC foolishly thought people would watch late-night talk shows from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on a nightly basis, and how did that work out?

INNOVATIVE

That was every weeknight. This is once a week. Plus, all the network is doing is asking us to laugh at some of the funniest shows on TV, not sit through insipid interviews of self-congratulation by brown-nosing hosts.

Anything would be better than that, so maybe NBC isn’t so crazy after all.

OK, so that’s your Sunday column preview. I wanted to blog about it earlier, I just didn’t have time. Now some other big links:

is this photo from the GQ glee photo shoot a little too much?

is this photo from the GQ glee photo shoot a little too much?

I should really leave this to be its own blog entry, but it’s been sitting around too long as it is — the GQ Glee photo spread. First off, it’s not that bad. It’s no different than dozens of other young, hot female starlets have done in Maxim, Stuff, FHM, whatever. And it’s not even that revealing, other than one of the Lea Michele pics with her legs spread open. That’s, umm, a little racy and maybe too much. But the evil that is the Parents Television Council, a group that must be so desperate for fun that they’d probably enjoy a plane ride through Kabul, says that it borders on pedophilia. Except for one thing — they’re not children! “Pedophilia” is a very, very harsh and loaded word to toss around, but both Lea Michele and Dianna Argon are both 24 — six years removed from the minimum age allowed to pose for Playboy or do porn — and completely capable of making their own decisions. Is the PTC that stupid and short-sighted to actually blur the line between reality and fiction? Sure, in the fiction world they play high schoolers, but in real life they’ve been out of high school for six years! When most people mistake a person for the character they play, we call them moronic. When the PTC does it, they’re trying to save young minds. Pathetic. Actually, I found this week’s club production production of “F— You” — censored or not — in far worse taste than the photo shoot.

This has to be the best year I’ve ever seen for indie movies getting end-of-the-year play. I usually have a good idea of what I need to see anyway, but when I’m looking for help, it’s usually impossible to find a guide to what were the best indie movies of the year to share with people. But Indie Wire has done a bang-up job on keeping people informed of what indies could have Oscar shots — or even Spirit Awards opportunities — and now IFC has given us a good idea of what indies we all need to see before making out our top 10 movie lists (top 20 for me and the Orange Street Oscars guys). The only problem? Someone hacked in to the IFC site and added two movies to the list without the writer’s knowledge — Resident Evil: Afterlife and The Last Airbender. There’s no other explanation. If that’s the case, it’s a pretty funny joke because those are two of the worst-reviewed movies this year. Combined — COMBINED — they have a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 31. They are the sorest of thumbs on the list. In order for this list to have any kind of credibility, we’re just going to have to go ahead and assume this is a hacker’s joke. OK? OK.

maybe i'll catch up in like 10 years

maybe i'll catch up in like 10 years

I’ve never even seen an episode of Weeds, but it’s in that category of shows I really, really want to catch up on with The Wire, Lost and Breaking Bad. It’s probably never gonna happen since I’m already two seasons behind in Dexter and haven’t seen either Burn Notice this year. They’re both in severe danger right now of unintentionally and sadly falling off my regular rotation, though I’m pretty sure I can catch back up with Burn Notice. Anyway, if you are a Weeds fan, next season could be the last for the show. There is a spoiler alert in there so if you’re like me and wait for DVDs of Showtime or HBO shows, you probably shouldn’t click on it. Just a warning.

Ryan Reynolds is a cool guy. He just is. So even though I don’t think Green Lantern lends to a good movie, I think it stands a 497 percent better shot of being successful with him in the title role. I don’t think the trailer is blow-you-away-awesome like the Spider-Man 2 trailer or the Dark Knight trailer, but it’s pretty good. It’s also positioned itself as the first need-to-see summer movie of 2011 since it’s the only big-time feature that’s decided to release a trailer. We already saw Thor’s trailer, but that was leaked from an exclusive Comic-Con showing and isn’t available yet. It’s already been taken down all over the place. And it wasn’t as good as the Green Lantern trailer anyway.

Denis Leary joining Spider-Man? Count me in. Better than James Cromwell, who I kept expecting to say things like “boyo” and “Rolo Tomassi” in Spider-Man 3.

News about when stuff is going to start shooting and whatnot is pretty lame. The only date you really need to know is the release date — and Dark Knight Rises is coming out in July 20, 2012. The fact that it will be shooting next summer and fallis pretty immaterial unless the wrap was too close to the release date. Eight months to edit and reshoot seems pretty standard though, so there’s nothing to be worried about. And this ain’t Christopher Nolan’s first rodeo. If he said it would shoot until June 2012 and still be ready for the July release date, we’d have to believe him.

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